May 30, 2008

Varieties of Huckabeenism

Give credit to Huckabee for at least admitting there?s a problem, a big one, within the GOP. Here?s the Huckster?s

solution :

Republicans need to be Republicans. The greatest threat to classic Republicanism is not liberalism; it’s this new brand of libertarianism, which is social liberalism and economic conservatism, but it’s a heartless, callous, soulless type of economic conservatism because it says “look, we want to cut taxes and eliminate government. If it means that elderly people don’t get their Medicare drugs, so be it. If it means little kids go without education and healthcare, so be it.” Well, that might be a quote pure economic conservative message, but it’s not an American message. It doesn’t fly. People aren’t going to buy that, because that’s not the way we are as a people. That’s not historic Republicanism. Historic Republicanism does not hate government; it’s just there to be as little of it as there can be. But they also recognize that government has to be paid for.

Justin Logan of Cato was one of the first to pick up on this, and what he says is right on the mark.  I?d also note that it?s getting pretty sad when a supposed ?social conservative? wants to fortify the social order through massive entitlements and dolling out the meds. The GOP?s stars now seem oblivious to the fact that there was once a time before Bush?

There?s also a more pragmatic question: I guess the GOP can promise Americans everything that the Democrats do, indeed, try erase the free-market/welfare socialism distinction between the parties (or what?s left of it.) Then of course the GOP can use the Bush Doctrine and the Iraq war as a wedge issue in November! Wow, what a great idea! That?s gonna bring in the voters! 

Also of interest is the transformation of Huckabee the man, who perhaps might offer us a window into the transformation of many evangelicals. Back in early 1990s, Huckabee seemed like a real fire-and-brimstone conservative, or at least talked like one, with his suggestion of quarantining of AIDs patients and such. This is a bit much and not really something I?d support, but at least he was coming from someplace real. In his presidential campaign, he gestured towards Southern Heritage with his ?tell ?em where to put the pole? line in South Carolina, even if the flag wasn?t a real issue. But the Huckster?s real trajectory has been towards Bushian ?compassionate conservatism,? some scapegoating of greedy capitalists (or at least Mitt Romney), and embrace of welfare-state socialism. The Club For Growth might hate it, but the fact is, there are strong winds of Huckabeeization within the GOP. And then there?s the other likely scenario of large swaths of Southern conservatives returning to their ancestral home in the Democratic party. 


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