December 6, 2007
Huckabee House Built on a Weak FoundationBy Clarice Feldman
Mike Huckabee is this week's latest Republican buzz, but I think his house is, as the old calypso song goes, "a house built on a weak foundation," and "it will not stand oh, no."
I understand why his star has risen. I've said it before, the voters are sick of slickly packaged parsers, saying one thing to get the nomination in primaries and leaving dancing room for the general election. The CNN pretend "debate" gave him many opportunities to display his debate skills and obvious personal charm. But a close look at his record and character suggests that behind the façade there may lurk the wishy-washy thinking of another Southern governor, Jimmy Carter, covered by the clever rhetorical skills of the other recent Southern governor, Bill Clinton, who also grew-up in Hope, Arkansas, the town of Huckabee's birth.
If it's a true straight talker you're looking for, go with Fred Thompson, who has all the charm of Huckabee and whose house is built on a bedrock foundation of federalism.
Let me explain. Right now we are in the middle of the most pressing foreign policy dilemmas and national security challenges. Not a single Republican candidate in the top tier is as lacking in experience on defense and foreign affairs that Huckabee. He mouths the right platitudes on the issues, but then tips his weak hand with offhand comments in which he concedes that Gitmo has been run properly but we should close it because it makes us look bad to foreigners. He has said we need to work "to restore relationships and rebuild the kind of positive attitudes people have historically had toward our own nation...."
These two statements reflect, I think, a startling naiveté about what has been happening over the past four years. I believe the uproar about Gitmo is part and parcel of the European myopia, not a failure of U.S. policy. Indeed, I've never seen one person who yelped about Gitmo offer any reasonable and practical alternative. Nor have I seen a persuasive legal argument against the segregation of irregular combatants offshore.
As to "restor[ing] relationships and rebuild[ing]...positive attitudes ," what planet has he been on? No reasonable and reasonably informed person could have missed that the persons most involved in whipping up anti-Americanism were Gerhard Schroeder, Jacques Chirac and Jean Chrétien, all of whom were replaced by leaders far less corrupt and far more sympathetic to American positions than their predecessors.
Outside of Europe, in the Middle East, in particular, it is hard to imagine that any policy short of abject surrender to the forces of jihadism would make a dent. People who can be brought out in the streets by the thousands to protest the publication in Denmark of a Muhammad cartoon are not likely to respect or admire a country like ours, based on the best thoughts of Western civilization including free speech and freedom of religion, no matter what else we do.
These statements, to my mind, reflect that at heart Mr. Huckabee, likeable as he is, is a man too swayed by squishy sentiment and emotion to be determined wartime leader.
But beyond the Carteresque hints in his foreign policy -- hugging intractable enemies won't change their minds -- I see more troublesome signs of a Clintonesque quality in him.
He has found a shrewd, if unappealing, way to disparage Romney's Mormonism without getting caught at it, by touting himself as "The Christian candidate for President."
As Charles Krauthammer has noted:
He has been utterly misleading, for example, on parts of his record, most notably immigration and taxes, and I find that almost as disturbing as his foundational weakness on defense and lack of knowledge on foreign affairs.
He has portrayed himself as a small government proponent and a tax cutter, but as Club for Growth argues, this is untrue, citing nine separate tax hikes he supported or raised .
To be fair, some of this was mandated by a state Supreme Court ruling requiring a sudden influx of funds for educational expenses, but why not be honest about that? And there are other statements that he made in the debate which also reflect a Clinton-like dancing about the truth.
At the CNN debate he said:
But that, of course, is grossly misleading and Fact Check caught him on that:
He misled the audience as well on his views respecting immigration, most particularly his defense of a doomed proposal to provide state college scholarships for children of illegal immigrants. He said in the debate:
But that grossly misstates the bill he supported.
And his present stance on immigration is far different than the one he has publicly taken when Congress was considering the issue.
Compare and contrast his actions and statements with Thompson's views.
Thompson said on May 15, 2007
By contrast here's what opponents of the immigration bill said of Huckabee:
Mickey Kaus has replied to the question of how is a candidate to appear new and unconventional in an age where everything is so sped up
I agree. And I don't think someone who has shown such little respect for religious tolerance or the truth and so little knowledge of the pressing issues of the day counts as more than a "half-fake outsider like Carter."
The Huckabee surge is not built on a strong foundation.
Disclosure: I am a Thompson supporter and have been from the moment he showed the courage of his convictions by standing up for Scooter Libby .
Clarice Feldman is an attorney in Washington, DC and a frequent contributor to American Thinker.