Huck! Come Back, Huck!

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Via Jonathan Martin, a stirring scene captured by Warren Cole Smith from a March meeting of the Christian right.

Michael Farris of the Home School Legal Defense Association, an early supporter of Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, chided the group for cold-shouldering his candidate until it was too late. Others, including Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, disagreed. The meeting quickly threatened to dissolve into accusations, rebuttals, and recriminations.

Then, venerable Paul Weyrich… a Romney supporter and one of those Farris had chastised for not supporting Huckabee, steered his wheelchair to the front of the room and slowly turned to face his compatriots. In a voice barely above a whisper, he said, "Friends, before all of you and before almighty God, I want to say I was wrong."

In a quiet, brief, but passionate speech, Weyrich essentially confessed that he and the other leaders should have backed Huckabee, a candidate who shared their values more fully than any other candidate in a generation. He agreed with Farris that many conservative leaders had blown it. By chasing other candidates with greater visibility, they failed to see what many of their supporters in the trenches saw clearly: Huckabee was their guy.

Why'd they fail to see that? These people aren't stupid, after all. The answer, I think, is because economic conservatives (and some libertarians) outflanked them. Earlier this year I pointed out that the Club for Growth had a bad year at the polls and that the falling salience of tax cuts as an election issue was hurting their candidates at the polls. Exhibit A: Their inability to stop the Huckabee surge in Iowa. But the Club campaign was extraordinary successful at convincing the conservative elite that Huckabee was unacceptable, suspect. Before Huck started his rise, all some of these people knew about him was that he'd gotten a covenant marriage (good!) and crusaded against childhood obesity (mixed at best!). Economic conservatives rushed in to define Huckabee and provide their allies with specific examples of his perfidy on tax hikes, on state spending, and so on. This had two mutually-reinforcing effects: To raise doubts about Huckabee's consistency among religious right leaders, many of whom were also economic conservatives, and to hint that the Club wing of the party would revolt if Huckabee prevailed.

Obviously, this campaign wouldn't have worked if Huckabee wasn't actually a big-government conservative. He supplied the ammo. But the ammo would have just sat around if economic conservatives didn't bring the guns. Reading Smith's article, I don't know if this attack would work again. The Club is convinced that it's tarred Huckabee and prevented him from ever becoming a frontrunner again, but the Weyrichs and the rest of the Beltway Christian right can't afford another wrenching rejection of their base.

NEXT: Getting His Goat

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  1. But the Club campaign was extraordinary successful at convincing the conservative elite that Huckabee was unacceptable, suspect. Before he started his rise, all some of these people knew about him was that he’d gotten

    Might want to clean that up a little 😉

  2. Mike Huckabee is a formerly-overweight, bible-thumping good-ol’-boy and evolution-denying gay man. Not that there’s anything wrong with that!!

  3. Why’d they fail to see that? These people aren’t stupid, after all.

    Really? IAnyone who is hanging in the same circles as Tony Perkins and the FRC should have their intelligence questioned.

  4. Then, venerable Paul Weyrich… a Romney supporter and one of those Farris had chastised for not supporting Huckabee, steered his wheelchair to the front of the room and slowly turned to face his compatriots. In a voice barely above a whisper, he said, “Friends, before all of you and before almighty God, I want to say I was wrong.”

    All this is missing is some John Williams music.

  5. They didn’t support Huckabee because they didn’t think he had a snowball’s chance in Hell, and by the time he surged, they had declared support for Romney, and couldn’t about-face without being called “john Kerry-esque”.

    I’d say it’s that simple.

  6. That’s one creepy-sounding party.

  7. But the ammo would have just sat around if economic conservatives didn’t bring the guns.

    I, for one, am grateful to the Club for this. Say what you will about McCain on the war and on his authoritarian reflexes, he is by far the best candidate on taxes and spending.

  8. So David, when do we get the disclaimer stating why exactly it is that you hate Christians?

  9. RC I think Romney was the best on economics being a former businessman and all. McCain was against the Bush tax cuts and says stupid things like “I wish interest rates were zero!”

  10. It’s a good thing that the economic conservatives stepped up to stop “liberal in conservative clothing” Huckabee, otherwise we’d have a big government authoritarian who is weak on immigration representing our party in the general!

  11. I, for one, am grateful to the Club for this. Say what you will about McCain on the war and on his authoritarian reflexes, he is by far the best candidate on taxes and spending.

    Uh huh. Riddle me this…how can *any* candidate that wants to expand the war machine be “good on taxes and spending”? In the budget, right along side the “entitlements” everyone bitches about, is this big fucking elephant called the US military.

    I may be ideologically irritated that a chunk of every dollar I make is going to feed and clothe people and give them medicines they need (against my will), but I’m right pissed off that a different chunk is going towards buying bombs and bullets to kill brown people in other countries.

  12. One of the few bright spots of this entire campaign season was the defeat of Huckabee. Of course, this was followed by the nomination of McCain.

  13. Bloggers everywhere wept when Huckabee Hucka-went and took his Hucka-puns with him.

    Why anybody else should miss him, I don’t know.

  14. I think Romney was the best on economics

    Entirely possible; I really couldn’t say. I was talking about the current candidates (and Huck).

    how can *any* candidate that wants to expand the war machine be “good on taxes and spending”?

    First, of course, you misquote me. I said, of the [current] candidates, he is the best on taxes and spending.

    Second, does anybody doubt that taxes would go higher under Hillary or Obama than under McCain?

    Does anybody doubt that domestic spending would go higher under Hillary or Obama than under McCain?

    Does anybody really believe that military spending will be much less under Hillary or Obama than under McCain? Enough less to offset the higher domestic spending?

  15. First, of course, you misquote me. I said, of the [current] candidates, he is the best on taxes and spending.

    Like hell you did. Your comment alone was underdetermined about which candidate set you were referring to (primary or final), but the context was responding to an article about Huckabee. In that context, it is reasonable to assume you were talking about the area the Club for Growth has already had an effect…on the Republican primary.

    To thank the Club for anything in the context of this general…would just be plain silly, since they haven’t said or done anything that has told anyone anything *new* about the final three we have.

    FWIW, to your questions:

    1. No, they would be the same on taxes as to amount, just distributed differently.

    2. Of course not. Score one for JCD.

    3. Hillary, definitely not. Obama, maybe. Enogh to offset? Probably not. But like I said, I can live better with money stolen to buy food than money stolen to buy bombs.

  16. I’d give McCain about a 60/40 percent chance of raising taxes.

    I can see him agreeing to a Democratic tax hike EASILY if he gets a blank check for his war-mongering foreign policy.

  17. @R C Dean

    It’s actually hard to say on the domestic spending side of things. As for the military vs domestic gap: Hillary probably not much less if at all. Obama probably.

    I am no fan of Bill Clinton’s Presidency. Not by a longshot. By the time 2000 rolled around I was cautiously optimistic about George Bush.

    However Bushes appetite for domestic spending boondoggles is only dwarfed by his desire to spend us into oblivion abroad. Bill Clinton was a fiscal conservative by comparison, especially with a Republican congress who actually didn’t send him bills to sign.

    If we’re gonna continue to run the country into the ground I’d prefer a dem do it so I don’t have to listen to liberals wax poetic about how “Capitalism”, “Free Markets” and “Small Government” has failed and then point to George Bush of all people as some kind of representative example.

  18. First, of course, you misquote me. I said, of the [current] candidates, he is the best on taxes and spending.

    Like hell you did.

    R C @ 3:14 pm:

    he is by far the best candidate on taxes and spending.

    Admitted, I was not as clear as I could have been on current candidates, but in no way was I saying he was a “good” candidate against some a priori standard.

    FWIW, to your questions:

    1. No, they would be the same on taxes as to amount, just distributed differently.

    Seeing as Obama and Hillary have already promised to raise taxes, I don’t see how you can say this. If you are talking about intergenerational distribution of taxes due to deficit spending, that’s really an observation about overall spending. If McCain’s better on spending, then he’s also better on intergenerational tax transfers, no?

    2. Of course not. Score one for JCD.

    3. Hillary, definitely not. Obama, maybe. Enogh to offset? Probably not. But like I said, I can live better with money stolen to buy food than money stolen to buy bombs.

    So we agree outright on two out of three – looking at spending as a whole, McCain is the best of the remaining three candidates.

  19. Blasted tags.

    FWIW, to your questions:

    1. No, they would be the same on taxes as to amount, just distributed differently.

    Seeing as Obama and Hillary have already promised to raise taxes, I don’t see how you can say this. If you are talking about intergenerational distribution of taxes due to deficit spending, that’s really an observation about overall spending. If McCain’s better on spending, then he’s also better on intergenerational tax transfers, no?

    2. Of course not. Score one for JCD.

    3. Hillary, definitely not. Obama, maybe. Enogh to offset? Probably not. But like I said, I can live better with money stolen to buy food than money stolen to buy bombs.

    So we agree outright on two out of three – looking at spending as a whole, McCain is the best of the remaining three candidates.

  20. Point remains, if you’re anticipating McCain starving the beast, I think you are waiting for a false messiah. Hell, even a false minor saint. That coupled with his incredibly destructive vision of America as a military hyperpower ready to travel the world to right “wrongs” (with American blood and bullets), and you have yourself a downright unacceptable candidate.

  21. The problem for the Christian Conservative leaders is they somehow felt that those of us outside of D.C. would accept a man (Romeny) who was anything but a social conservative (Human Events in 2005 listed him as the 7th most liberal Republican Official in the U.S.).
    His record on social issues was very poor.
    Weyrich is right, we had a chance to have a candidate who would really whole heartly supported the important issues. He is a big man in my eyes for being willing to admit a mistake. Can’t say the same for Tony Perkins, Gary Bauer or Pat Robinson.

  22. So, instead of getting the guy who might raise taxes to balance the budget, you got the guy who wants to invade Iran and stay in Iraq for a hundred years. Nice work, dumbasses.

  23. Why did they not see this? Cannot say. Why the turnaround now? Two words: CHUCK NORRIS

  24. If McCain’s better on spending, then he’s also better on intergenerational tax transfers, no?

    No. If decreased taxation is not balanced by spending decreases, then he’s not better with regards to intergenerational wealth transfer. I’m willing to bet that his spending will not drop enough to balance taxation.

    In any case, I’d rather the next president spend my money domestically than burn piles of it in some desert shit-hole.

  25. Weyrich is right, we had a chance to have a candidate who would really whole heartly supported the important issues. He is a big man in my eyes for being willing to admit a mistake. Can’t say the same for Tony Perkins, Gary Bauer or Pat Robinson.

    It’s been pretty obvious for a while that the evangelical leadership serves Mammon. It’s the way of all religious movements when they get political power.

  26. That’s what happens when you are a one-issue movement. Their one issue was Christianity. They completely ignored Huckabee’s Huge Nanny Government position on all other issues. These guys would support Hugo Chavez if he declared himself a Baptist. Disgusting.

    Christians do not make better politicians than anyone else. I say this a Christian. Christians are every bit as imperfect, immoral and sinful as non-Christians. That many Christians on the right cannot understand this is shameful.

    Probably the most moral and conscientious Christian president in the last century was Jimmy Carter. The Christian Right seems to forget this.

  27. Ya,

    We miss you Governor Huckabee. I have only been politically interested once in my life. I hope you make us political again come next election.

    Dan Campbell

  28. *** BREAKING NEWS ***

    Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee will be announcing something really big next Monday April 14th. Check out his web site at:

    http://www.mikehuckabee.com

    There were only two presidential candidates that acted Honorable during the primaries, both John McCain and Mike Huckabee. The military considers “Honor” the highest degree of character.

  29. Who’s ‘us’ Dan Campbell? Got a mouse in your pocket?

    As for the who’s-better-McCain-Clinton-Obama question, I’ll paraphrase something I posted a few months ago on a different website: we’ve got Cerberus on our hands and you people are arguing which slavering head is going to be the most merciful? In regards to McCain, he’s going to continue and increase spending (like the other two candidates) but he’s not going to have a way to pay for it. Not that we do right now anyway.

  30. Thanks Mike. May the Lord forgive all these sinning cosmotarians as they vote for the great satan McObHillary.

  31. Mike Huckabee is a formerly-overweight, bible-thumping good-ol’-boy

    Formerly? He’s lost a lot of weight, but he still weighs more than I do, and I’m by no means slender. He just doesn’t have his own atmosphere anymore.

    Honestly, I don’t see the appeal of a protectionist, isolationist nanny-stater among the Republican Party. He’d be the same sort of electoral success as Walter Mondale… just Mondale had more support within his own party.

    When a GOP candidate is being fawned over by Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert, that’s normally a pretty good sign that you ought to be running as far away from him as fast as possible.

  32. @Bradybuck

    Probably the most moral and conscientious Christian president in the last century was Jimmy Carter. The Christian Right seems to forget this.

    I’d agree with that. When Carter was running, evangelicals were out knocking on doors for him.

    Before they were the Christian Right, evangelicals were the Christian Left. Something conservatives would do well to remember before bending over too far to curry their favor.

    @Tony

    The military considers “Honor” the highest degree of character.

    Considering the last war that could remotely be construed to have been fought in the interests of the common defense was fought over 60 years ago, I’d call the military the biggest welfare program going. How much honor can an organization of glorified welfare bums have, anyway?

  33. Documented that Romney had a “hand” in the Club for Growth distorting of Governor Huckabee’s record to discredit him. Club For Growth just lost any credibility they ever had, in my opinion. What has happened is the grassroots have decided “Huckabee is our man” and we won’t let him slip away next time. Huckabee supporters will not stop working until he is in place in the White House, where he belongs!!! Conservative leaders hesitated to back Huckabee, I believe, because they doubted he could gain national recognition in time to win. They, like so many, underestimated the power of the man and his message. Glad to see they are coming to their senses.

  34. “Conservative leaders hesitated to back Huckabee, I believe, because they doubted he could gain national recognition in time to win.”

    They didn’t back Ron Paul because they doubted he could win. They didn’t back Huckabee because he isn’t a conservative.

  35. @ Pig Mannix

    Some would contend that the current action in Afghanistan and Iraq constitutes a fight in the interests of common defense, but you don’t have to agree.

    Oh, and fuck you, too. Asshole.

  36. I don’t understand how moral religious leaders could support someone — namely Mike Huckabee, who was listed as one of the 10 most corrupt politicians by Judicial Watch.

    http://www.judicialwatch.org/judicial-watch-announces-list-washington-s-ten-most-wanted-corrupt-politicians-2007

  37. If cutting taxes is the answer to every economic problem, then why not just get rid of taxes altogether.

  38. They didn’t back Ron Paul because they doubted he could win. They didn’t back Huckabee because he isn’t a conservative.

    Well, he is a classical conservative… just that tends to be at odds with modern conservatism, just as classical liberalism tends to be at odds with modern liberalism.

    That being said, I think Huckabee, even in losing, ended up accomplishing his goals. After all, the presence of Huckabee ultimately led to the selection of McCain in the GOP primaries, another relatively classical conservative with focus on community and service for the greater good… in other words, the sort of “it takes a village” tripe that gets us so animated.

  39. If cutting taxes is the answer to every economic problem, then why not just get rid of taxes altogether.

    Because the adults among us realize that there is a minimum level of government associated with a functioning society, and that level of government must be funded.

    We just think that minimum level of government is far below what we have, so taxes can be cut (with concomitant economic benefits) quite a lot before we actually get down to the optimal level of government.

  40. America has missed out on a great President in Mike Huckabee. The reason Rush, Hannity, Beck, Ingraham falsely branded Huckabee a liberal while calling Mitt Romney (rated one of the most liberal Republicans) a conservative is unbelievable. Ever wonder why conservative media endorsed Romney? His company Bain Capital has been in the process of purchasing Clear Channel. Rush, Hannity, Ingraham, etc are all under multi-million dollar contracts with Clear Channel—just follow the money trail.

    The reason I believe many Christians did not back Huckabee is because they rely too much on the opinions of Rush and the rest of the conservative talk show hosts for their opinions. Many Christian leaders are so in bed with the Republican establishment that they were too afraid of losing their places at the power table to back Huckabee. To me, they are just modern day Pharisees (Perkins, Hagee, Dobson, Bauer, etc). They sold out, period.

    I’ll vote for McCain as long as Romney is not on the ticket- he is the most dishonest politician I’ve ever seen. the thought of him a heartbeat away from the presidency terrifies me. He is simply an opportunist. I’m not a huge McCain fan but at least he seems to have some actual convictions.

  41. One of the few bright spots of this entire campaign season was the defeat of Huckabee.

    I started out the campaign with the conviction that Hillary Clinton was the candidate where I would vote for anyone else to keep her out of office. Huckabee was the first to unseat her from that position. It’s the “Christain government” thing. (And I’m a Christian.)

    The only thing worse than the nanny state is the state church. Particularly for Christians.

    The second candidate I now rate worse than Clinton is Obama.

    Note I haven’t changed my opinion of Clinton.

    It’s been a very depressing campaign.

  42. *** B R E A K I N G N E W S ***

    Reliable sources say that on April 15th at exactly 12:00pm Mike Huckabee’s web site and John McCain’s web site will merge into one. This will be the official announcement that John McCain and Mike Huckabee are running on the same Republican ticket as President and Vice President of America.

    The Gold star in the center of Mike Huckabee’s countdown timer is the same star John McCain uses. It is said McCain’s name will scroll to the top of the star and Huckabee’s name below the star to form the alliance.

    Sources say McCain’s admiration of Huckabee’s Honor and Integrity sold him on the fact to choose Mike as his running mate. In the military, John McCain’s is the military, and Honor and Integrity are the most desireable character traits one can achieve.

    In particular John McCain was impressed of Mike Huckabee honor and integrity during the primaries. Back in late December McCain and Huckabee formed an alliance against Romney to force him out of the race. McCain has lauded Huckabee as “a man of integrity, honesty, and decency.” And Huckabee has praised McCain as “a true, honest-to-God American hero.”

    April 15th was choosen to symbolize the new alliance between McCain and Huckabee of taking on the Financial Recession which parallels to the Financial Tax due date in America.

    Mike Huckabee is scheduled to be in NY city during this announcement on April 15th to again symbolize the Financial Recession and Wall Street Financial activity.

    *** B R E A K I N G N E W S ***

  43. Huckabees problem outside of the South:
    1. He claimed he was the “Christian” candidate as if to say the others didn’t believe in Christ.
    2. He pardoned 1033 criminals including murderers. One criminal went on to rape and murder again. He was compassionate to the criminals while not considering the victims.
    3. He had several ethic violations and set up special funds / accounts to pay for pictures, house warming party, etc.
    4. His Fair Tax system is a joke. It would penalize the middle class and the rich would get off easy.
    5. He promoted illegals by arraining for a Mexican consulate in Arkansas.

    No Huckabee is not acceptable to fiscal conservatives. He doesn’t have a clue when it comes to the economy.

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