Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Jim Geraghty on the Huckster

Yesterday Jim Geraghty put up a post at NRO's Campaign Spot in response to a Michael Medved column. See, Medved's fallen for the Huckster, and his constant preening over him is reminiscent of Hugh's support of Romney, only more sickening because he's defending the Huckster's appalling record. Geraghty responds to part of Medved's defense with common sense; something that Mr. Medved, in my opinion, hasn't ever shown:

Does Huckabee's Rise Really Demonstrate a 'Complex, Diverse' Christian Right?

I also have to disagree with Michael Medved's contention that "Huck's campaign demonstrates that the so-called 'Christian Right' is more complex and diverse than commonly assumed.'

case from Medved:

In fact, very few prominent Christian Conservatives have endorsed the Arkansas Traveler – Romney in particular has drawn back from more famous Evangelicals than has Huckabee, while many others support Thompson, McCain or even Guiliani – just ask Pat Robertson. In other words, contrary to the Washington Post’s infamous (and long ago) description of Christian conservatives as “poor, uneducated and easily led,” the Evangelical community is decidedly split in this campaign. In addition to its other revelations, the Huckabee campaign shows that conservative Christians represent no dangerous or monolithic cult, but a diverse, complex and politically maturing community.

Well, perhaps. But each one of Huckabee's rivals has garnered endorsements from prominent figures in the religious right community; Huckabee has come the closest to unifying the rank-and-file of the community behind him. In other words, the leadership may be split, but the "diverse, complex and politically maturing" community seems to be lining up behind Huckabee in a way they haven't for any other candidate.

What it is enormously frustrating to the true anti-Huck folks like
Ace of Spades and Dan Riehl is that the evangelicals will vote for, as Fred Thompson put it, a "pro-life liberal." These guys look at Huckabee and see conservatism on one area - social issues - and see not much elsewhere: populism on economics, a thin resume on foreign policy, some squishiness on crime, and an open-hearted view toward illegal immigrants that they conclude amounts to amnesty. They're talking about backing the Democratic candidate if Huckabee's the nominee, if for no other reason than to ensure the catastrophic results of liberal policies are associated with Democrats and not Republicans.

Ace and Dan Riehl are correct on the Huckster, and the broadside we posted last week emphasizes those points. I have often written that the Evangelicals in the GOP base seem to act and think much the way the nutroots across the aisle do. They believe that as the heart and soul of the party, they should have their fair say in the matter. The problem is that their track record of choosing candidates isn't all that great. President Bush will be judged by history when he leaves office, but the base is thoroughly fed up with his "compassionate conservatism." (He didn't run as an Evangelical Christian, but he also didn't shy away from that part of his persona.)

The Huckster is doing all he can to line up the Evangelical vote, and in doing so he may very well take Iowa. But, as Geraghty noted yesterday on Hugh's show, once you get to South Carolina, all bets are off. Evangelicals outside of certain parts of the nation begin to show their more diverse views, and one thing they refuse to compromise on is national security.

One of the largest issues looming on the horizon for America is Iran. Forget the NIE (which is on par with the New York times as a cage liner), and take note of the fact that not only has Iran refused to quit enriching their uranium, they announced two days ago that they were working on a second nuclear reactor. The Huckster gave a foreign policy speech not too long ago, and it garnered quite a bit of interest amongst pundits. Medved claims that there is nothing wrong with his speech, and it sounds a lot like President Bush's ideas with regard to Iran, Iraq, and even Pakistan. (For the record, Mr. Medved, the president has not called on US forces to invade a sovereign ally.)

Michael Rubin was on Hugh's show yesterday and they were discussing that speech. Here is what Michael Rubin had to say about the Huckster's ideas:

HH: Now Michael Rubin, Mike Huckabee gave a speech about Iran which contained a couple of assumptions about it, which I’d like to get you to comment on. I played most of the speech yesterday. Here’s cut number one of Huckabee on Iran:

MH: Before we put boots on the ground in the future, we’d better have a few wingtips there first. And when President Bush included Iran in the axis of evil, everything went downhill pretty fast. As the only presidential candidate with a theology degree, along with several years of political experience, I know that theology is black and white, politics is not. My enemy today on one issue may be my friend tomorrow on another. Bottom line is this, Iran is a regional threat to the balance of power in the middle and near East. Al Qaeda is an existential threat to the United States. I know that we cannot live with al Qaeda, but there is a chance we can live with a domesticated Iran.

HH: Your reaction, Michael Rubin?

MR: I think he’s woefully nave. First of all, he’s just plain got his facts wrong. I’ve been critical of President Bush and his Iran policy a good deal, but when Mike Huckabee says that everything went downhill after the Axis of Evil speech, that’s simply incorrect. First of all, the National Intelligence Estimate that just came out, whatever its merits, has confirmed that Iran was working on a nuclear weapons program until 2003. Now we can get into the whole issues of sequencing and enrichment later, but the fact of the matter is this is the height of the reformist period. At the time the Europeans and Madeleine Albright as well were apologizing to Iran, offering olive branches to Iran and so forth, Iran was taking that goodwill, and pumping it into their military nuclear weapons program. Now when George Bush talked about the Axis of Evil speech, some people say oh, that was too much in their face and so forth. But the fact of the matter is, that was, in a way, economic warfare, non-violent warfare, because what it did was it’s that speech that convinced the European companies that maybe it wasn’t worth their while to be investing in Iranian factories and Iranian plants. And the reason the Iranian nuclear program slowed down may very well be because George Bush upped the rhetoric.

HH: Let’s listen…

MR: Also, sorry…

HH: Go ahead.

MR: He also misunderstands that Iran’s president doesn’t have ultimate power. We may find President Ahmadinejad in Iran noxious, but the people who have ultimate power are the theocrats, the very black and white folks who he’s choosing to ignore.

HH: Well put. Let’s listen to a second cut from the Huckabee talk about Iran.

MH: We haven’t had diplomatic relationships with Iran in almost thirty years, most of my entire adult life. And a lot of good it’s done. Putting this in human terms, all of us know that when we stop talking to a parent, or a sibling, or even a friend, it’s impossible to resolve the differences to move that relationship forward. Well, the same is true for countries.

HH: Is the same true for countries, Michael Rubin, specifically Iran and the United States?

MR: Well, again, Huckabee has his facts wrong, because even though we don’t have formal diplomatic relations, meaning we don’t have exchanges of ambassadors and embassies, there has been constant communication with Iran. Zalmay Khalilzad, who is now the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and Ryan Crocker, who is now the U.S. ambassador to Baghdad, were meeting with Iran in 2002 and 2003, to try to get certain deals and agreements on Iraq. Iran took those agreements, basically they were that we wouldn’t interfere in Iran, and they wouldn’t send the Revolutionary Guard into Iraq. And they broke their promises. Before that, of course, the whole, whatever during the Reagan administration, we had what became the Iran-Contra scandal. Now putting aside the issues, the Congressional issues of bypassing Congress and the Nicaraguan Contras, what that was, was an attempt to reach out to Iran. Former National Security Advisor Bud McFarland went over to Tehran to talk, and it wasn’t us who exposed that deal. It was the Iranians when they…for their own domestic, political reasons. We have had constant talks with Iran, and the reason the talks don’t work isn’t because we’re not talking, but it’s rather because every time the Iranians make a promise, they violate it.

HH: Is this level of navet on Huckabee’s part common among American political actors, or is it uncommonly nave?

MR: Well, it depends…I mean, I would put him in the Jimmy Carter school of foreign policy.

Here's my suggestion to Michael Medved: Please stick to your radio show, and quit defending the indefensible. The Huckster would not be a good candidate for the GOP in '08. He'd be a disaster, with a capital "D." We have said that he's an affable, likeable guy. We could hang out, go to a barbecue, and even have a beer at the bar with the guy. But he has far too much baggage in his trunk to risk against any of the Democrats. He is too soft on law and order issues. He is weak on immigration. He's naive when it comes to the war. And he does like to raise taxes. You can be Evangelical all you want, but if you're not right on the core base beliefs, you're not going to go anywhere because the base isn't willing to compromise.

Publius II


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