**12/12: Here’s my follow-up post to this one.**
Much is being made about the “surge” in the polls former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee has seen the last few weeks in the run-up to Iowa. I think this says a lot more about the sad state of affairs in the Republican presidential race than it does Mike Huckabee. Rudy, Romney, and McCain aren’t inspiring people, Thompson’s faltered badly after jumping into the race in a blaze of glory, and somewhere along the way, that lack of inspiration has somehow morphed slowly into rising support for Huckabee.
One good thing Huckabee has going for him is that he’s proven himself good at beating the “Clinton machine.” He’s also a clear conservative on issues like abortion and gay marriage, something I admire him for, but his record on fiscal issues is anything but. And up until recently, his views on illegal immigration were at odds with the conservative base. But after the release of his “official” plan for illegal immigration, where he made concessions which he hopes will appeal to the base, he’s gotten the endorsement of Jim Gilchrist, founder of the border-protecting Minutemen Project.
There are things about Huckabee to like, but there’s a lot more about him not to like, in my opinion. The fiscal liberal in him is obviously one thing, and his wishy washy position on immigration is another, but several things he’s said recently have given conservatives cause for alarm as to whether or not Huckabee is ready for the national stage. A few examples:
After [The Politico’s David Paul] Kuhn explained the NIE’s findings to Huckabee, Huckabee seemed confused about what it meant. Beyond doing nothing to resolve doubts about his foreign policy qualifications, the exchange underscores the fact that Huckabee doesn’t really have much of a campaign, in the sense that Giuliani and Romney have campaigns, with teams of advisers and carefully-thought-out policy positions. In important ways, he has been flying by the seat of his pants, relying on his unequaled talents as a retail campaigner. But now that he is leading in Iowa, and moving up nationally as well, the deficiencies of his campaign might come more and more into the spotlight.
2) Case in point: His admission today that his views on the Cuba embargo have changed now (he used to be against it, and now he’s for it) because he’s “running for president” – a clear admission if there ever was one from a candidate that he’ll change his positions to whatever in an attempt to get elected …
3) … which he’s done on the issues of Gitmo and waterboarding, too.
4) And that’s in addition to the switcheroni he’s done on immigration, which I mentioned earlier.
But hey, all candidates flip flop, and come off as ignorant sometimes, right? Sure they do. Even if Huck hadn’t flip flopped, or shown ignorance on the NIE, the concerns many conservatives have about Huckabee wouldn’t – and shouldn’t – go away. Jonah Goldberg summed up the problems with Mike Huckabee in a piece he did on the Huckster and Ron Paul last month:
What’s troubling about The Man From Hope 2.0 is what he represents. Huckabee represents compassionate conservatism on steroids. A devout social conservative on issues such as abortion, school prayer, homosexuality and evolution, Huckabee is a populist on economics, a fad-follower on the environment and an all-around do-gooder who believes that the biblical obligation to do “good works” extends to using government — and your tax dollars — to bring us closer to the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth.
For example, Huckabee has indicated he would support a nationwide federal ban on public smoking. Why? Because he’s on a health kick, thinks smoking is bad and believes the government should do the right thing.
Just tonight we learn via Drudge (h/t: HH) that the Democrats (and MSM) are salivating over the possiblity of having Huckabee as the Republican candidate next year, and have instructed their candidates not to pile on to any criticism leveled at him by his Republican rivals, which is a clear indication of the lack of confidence in they have in their own candidates, so much so that they have to wish for a weak candidate to be the opposition’s nominee. No doubt this CNN/Research Opinion poll released today (h/t: Flopping Aces), which shows Huckabee losing in double digits to any of the “big three” Dems running, reinforced that position among top Dems.
As Ericka Andersen at RedState posted, even with all his baggage, he’s still a likeable guy – but likeable guys don’t always make good presidents. Such is the case with Mike Huckabee.