Mike Huckabee vs. the Libertarians. Sorry, "Faux-Cons."


Once (and future?) presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is out with his third book in as many years, Do the Right Thing, a searing picture of a day on a Brooklyn city block a memoir of his unlikely, underfunded, and proudly socially conservative bid. A big chunk of the book is dedicated to settling some scores between Huck and the economic conservatives and libertarians who considered (and still consider) him unacceptable.

The real threat to the Republican Party is something we saw a lot of this past election cycle: libertarianism masked as conservatism. And it threatens to not only split the Republican Party, but render it as irrelevant as the Whig Party.

Huckabee trains a lot of fire on the Club for Growth, who had another tough election cycle, with 2006 victors Rep. Tim Walberg (MI) and Rep. Bill Sali (ID) going down in the Obama wave, joined by prize recruit Andy Harris in Maryland's first district. (Harris beat incumbent Rep. Wayne Gilchrest, a fellow Republican, in the primary, and watched Gilchrest push past him to elect Democrat Frank Kratovil.) Perhaps the Club's biggest success was its pre-emptive demolition job on Huckabee. The governor responds by accusing them and other libertarians of believing in "purity of politics first; people are on their own." In a chapter titled "Let Them Buy Stocks!" he accuses "libertarian faux-cons" of driving "the party even further away from its base of the hard-working middle class." He names names.

You can see the growing influence of faux-cons in the 2008 election cycle from the so-called Ron Paul Revolution to the economics-only conservatism reflected by some of the supporters of Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani.

But he backs off on Paul.

Before I get singed by hot and angry mail from Ron Paul disciples, I want to be emphatic in stating my sincere respect for Congressman Paul. I was convinced that he at least had genuine convictions and was willing to stand by them and on them no matter what the audience–a lot more than I could say for some of the candidates who could change positions as easily as Cher can change costumes in one of her many farewell tours.

Subtext: "Go to hell, Mitt Romney. No, not the one you believe in. The one I believe in."

One reason Huckabee might be softer on Paul is the role that rEVOLutionaries played in Huckabee's West Virginia primary victory. West Virginia Republicans select their winner at a party member-only convention. As I reported on Feb. 5, Paul backers, who loathed the bullying and arrogant Romney faction, cut a deal with Huckabee backers to combine their votes and edge out Romney. All the news networks reported that John McCain supporters had made the deal, but Huckabee sets the record straight and credits the "horse-trading" of the Paul people for his win.