A couple of weeks ago Mike Huckabee was skyrocketing out of sight. Now the polls are tightening up. But Huckabee is a dark horse in more ways than one. For one thing, he must know that his public record is much too controversial for him to get elected president.
So why is he running?
Think about that for a second.
Huckabee is not a conservative. He is a populist, like Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Hewey Long.
He started off as a very successful radio preacher. Huckabee has years of practice doing off-the-cuff repartee with radio listeners. He is a master of the exploding sound-bite. But Huck is no Rush Limbaugh, and he's certainly no Reagan. He could be the Rush from the Dark Side, using those awesome talents to undermine conservatism, rather than build it up.
Credible conservatives get the creeps about Huck: George Will, Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, William Kristol, Robert Novak, National Review.
Huckabee plays the game like a pro, by getting the Big Megaphones of the liberal media on his side. Liberals love Huckabee. Coming out of nowhere, Huckabee rocketed to fame just weeks before the Republican primaries, when voters couldn't know about him. He did it with superslick TV commercials in Iowa and New Hampshire, from a campaign that is supposed to have no money.
TV commercials aren't cheap. Great ones cost a lot of money.
But Huckabee has far too many dubious statements on the record. Some of his associates play straight into the Left's worst stereotypes about born-again Christians. And Huck's Christianity is right there on his sleeve -- he's running as a preacher. The trouble is that the United States has never elected a preacher as president, because we have too many different denominations. As Rush pointed out, the media will kill him, just on the basis of his very publicly paraded fundamentalism alone. So again, we get the same question: Why is this man running for a job he can't win?
Huckabee says this is all a miracle. But it looks like he has been preparing it for years.
How do we know? Because as Arkansas governor, he flipped from conservative to liberal in 2002 --- five years ago. That's why the Left likes him so much.
[Huckabee] "...went from being one of the best governors in America to one of the worst. He receives an F for his current term and a D for his entire tenure. The main reason for the drop was his insistence on raising taxes at almost every turn throughout his final term.
"Nine days after being reelected in 2002, he proposed a sales tax increase to cover a budget deficit ... He agreed to a 3 percent income tax 'surcharge' and a 25-cent cigarette tax increase." (italics added)
Now it's possible that Mr. Huckabee had a Pauline conversion just 9 days after his reelection in 2002. More likely, like a good political pro, Mr. Huckabee was just planning four years ahead. It takes time to prepare all those miracles Huckabee attributes to the Lord.
Conservatives might support tax increases for education if they were being spent on voucher plans for sending their kids to competitive schools. Or to reward teachers for better teaching.
But Huckabee's tax increases were the opposite kind. They went to support public schools that don't have a good track record. Arkansas has 10% fewer college degrees than the average state. This is not an education system that's working well. But the teachers still got sizable salary increases, thanks to Governor Huck.
The Club for Growth writes:
"Nominating Mike Huckabee for president or vice-president would constitute an abject rejection of the free-market, limited-government, economic conservatism that has been the unifying theme of the Republican Party for decades."
Could be that Governor Huckabee was just buying the loyalty of the National Education Association, one of the big players in the Democratic Party. So he swung hard Left in his second term, getting the endorsement of the teachers' unions by giving more tax money to them. And he's gotten big money from an embryonic stem cell outfit. He's built up a lot of credibility on the Left over five years. Huckabee has now been endorsed by the teachers' union in New Hampshire --- the first time in history that it's ever endorsed a Republican.
It's another Huckabee miracle.
Rush Limbaugh likes to say that " nothing is coincidental with the Clintons." It could be that Huckabee, who is coincidentally from the same state, isn't that much of a coincidence either. Even if he gets the nomination, Hillabama would nail his skin to the wall. He has lots of dubious associations, as Robert Novak just wrote. He's weirdly contradictory on foreign policy, as if he tried to slice the baby in half. He has a lot of sucker slogans, like "abolishing the IRS," and putting a true Christian into the White House. (As if President Bush is not a true Christian.)
So why, Governor Huckabee, are you running for a ticket that will bring Hillary or Obama into the White House?
There's something fishy here.
The last Big Hype candidate who couldn't win was Ross Perot. He got 18.9% percent of the vote in 1992, enough to put Bill Clinton in the White House. And shrewd old Ross ran just like Huckabee, talking up the populist vote. Ross dropped his Reform Party like a hot potato when he was done with it.
Now which old Arkansas governor knows this game inside and out? Yes, that's right.
And Mr. Huckabee was nothing but nice to President Clinton during his troubles.
And we know Bill Clinton talked up Huckabee to George Stepanopoulos -- his own White House spinner -- who is now an objective journalist for ABC.
That's some amazing coincidences.