Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Mike Huckabee: Palin destroyer?

   Few things in politics frighten me more than the possibility of a Sarah Palin presidency. It frightens me enough that when Arkansas has its open primary, and if Palin is on the GOP ballot, I will choose to vote in that primary and I will vote for whichever candidate has the better chance of pulling ahead of her.

   Which brings us to the man whose name is the title of this post.

   Mike Huckabee was the governor of my state. A very moderate governor, due in large part to having to deal with a Democrat controlled state legislature. For instance, he signed legislation which put into effect ARKids, a program to insure children in low income families in the state. Also, regarding illegal immigrants, Huckabee condemned a bill which would deny them state benefits as "un-Christian".

   But he wasn't perfect. The Arkansas Times often pointed out what could be considered his ethical lapses, such as his reporting (or lack thereof ) of campaign payments he made to himself. And of course there's the stories of his commutations of  rapist Wayne DuMond and felon Maurice Clemmons, both of whom went on to commit murders once out of prison.

   But now that Huckabee's star has ascended into the world of TV and radio, you never hear about those much. The Teflon quality that Reagan and Clinton had, Huckabee has too. Both Clinton and Huckabee hail from Hope, Arkansas by the way, which makes one wonder what elixir they discovered in their younger days.

   One evening a few weeks ago, my wife and I settled in to watch Real Time with Bill Maher. A prime piece of blue state TV if I've ever seen it. But also one of the best shows to watch if you want insightful and informed political panels. Any Republicans or conservatives who go on this show and face such a hostile crowd typically know their stuff, or could at least name several books, newpapers, or magazines they read for information (unlike Palin). Huckabee came on for an interview with Maher on satellite and we both concluded afterwards that he was definitely presidential material. Not to say we would vote for him. But his charm, whit, and general likability really are Clinton-esque in a lot of ways. He also had well thought out, albeit philosophically conservative, answers to everything Maher pressed him about.

   Then the other day I read an article in which conservative writer David Frum argues that Huckabee is the only person who can stop the Witch from Wasilla. You can read it here. I mentioned this article to my wife who speculated on a Huckabee/Palin (or the other way around) run instead. I sincerely hope Frum is right and my wife is wrong.

   Palin is a thoroughly mean spirited politician who has the vindictiveness of Richard Nixon with none of the brains, all wrapped up in a package that is soccer mom-ish enough to speak to the Twilight reading mini van mom crowd and physically appealing enough to suck in conservative men to ignore her total vacuousness. Just look at the near worship that square-jawed haircut Sean Hannity tends to lavish on her. 

   Huckabee has nowhere near the meanness of Palin. But that doesn't qualify one to be president. His accomplishments as governor if you read up on them show him to be a "compassionate conservative" in the truest sense. Maybe he wouldn't be a terrible president, but then again the man who first brought us the term "compassionate conservative" brought us an unnecessary war, a bumbling response to a natural disaster, and a green light to torturous behavior which ceded some of the moral high ground of my country's military. Huckabee may be nice, but the most important thing to me in a president is one who can respond with wisdom and not excessive militarism to events like North Korea firing on South Korea or Iran's continuing development of nuclear program. Nothing I see in Palin shows me that she could pass this test, and Huckabee has yet to prove himself to me on this front.