Huckabee is Ready. Is the GOP?

It’s only 2009, and he’s already ready for another close-up

From everything I’ve read and everything I’ve heard, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee was his phenomenally dynamic self at CPAC yesterday. That’s about as surprising as finding an earmark in Pelosi-crafted legislation.

During his speech (four-part video of which can be found HERE), Huckabee said exactly what needed to be said about John McCain’s conservative failings, about our unstoppable bailout mentality, about tax cheat Timothy Geithner running the Treasury Department, about the so-called “stimulus,” and much, much, much more. And from this review of his speech by the folks at The Weekly Standard, we can get an idea if the manner in which he made his perspective known:

And, judging by his speech, the Huckabee revolution will be word-smithed and catch-phrased, aggressively. After an oddly off-color opening joke, which finished with— I kid you not— a teacher tasting puppy piddle, Huckabee called for “family conservatives,” “fiscal conservatives,” and “freedom conservatives” to come together as “compentent conservatives.”

Employing the Obama-style couplet he urged “deliberation over desperation” and “prudence over panic” in financial crises, reiterating his opposition to the first bank bailout in 2008. The stimulus bill became the “Congressional Recovery Action Plan,” because “we all know it’s pure Congressional Recovery Action Plan and smells like Congressional Recovery Action Plan.” He renamed pork-filled stimulus and spending bills, “Confessions of a Shopaholic.”

As for conservatives, they are called to be “vertical politicians” and “vertical patriots,” who don’t worry about what moves Americans right or left, but what moves them up and down. In so doing, the party can earn the votes of the broad middle class, because if we “lose that connection, we lose the election.”

Invoking Katrina as a metaphor for the party’s decline, he said it must once again become “the party of a shining city on a hill, not the party of the ruined city in the sea.”

On regulation, Republicans must be the “party of just right,” not allowing overzealous regulation or deregulation to endanger the Goldilockses of America.

The Republican Party, he said, must communicate that it is the party that believes opportunity in America is a “ladder,” not a “stepstool.” It believes in life as a “World Series,” where the exceptional are allowed to shine, benefiting everyone; not “tee ball,” where everyone is forced to play on the same level.

The first time I was exposed firsthand to Huckabee was at a meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council during the summer of 2007 where, using the questionable media credentials associated with my day job, I wiggled my way into the meeting in order to catch a glimpse of Fred Thompson. Waiting in the lobby outside the meeting room, I think I was the only person to notice when Huckabee and an assistant briskly walked through — after his performance that day, however, I was immediately aware that he wasn’t going to be anonymous for long.

Huckabee killed. Introduced by Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund, Huckabee approached the podium to a room filled by obligatory applause — but he left the dais to a raucous standing ovation. He was incredible. In fact, most of the conversations at the end of the day centered on Huckabee rather than Thompson, who disappointed many expecting a stump speech by giving a [great, but wonky] speech on federalism.

I like Mike. I really, really do. Like any politician, he has his good points and his bad, but a lot of people look at my support of Mitt Romney in 2008 and say that, somehow, I cannot have it both ways. In fact, I’m constantly taken aback by the disdain between supporters of the two former governors, a deep distrust and animosity which has not appeared to wane since the primary season one year ago. It must.

We hear about these problems between supporters of Romney and supporters of Huckabee and supporters of Sarah Palin and more. It must stop. These people all have their shortcomings, but have all established themselves as solid and attractive candidates to anchor the resurgent conservative movement. And, of course, that’s not to discount Sen. Jim DeMint and Rep. Eric Sanford and Govs. Bobby Jindal and Mark Sanford — but last I checked, their crowds aren’t feuding with anyone.

Listen, we should be happy–thrilled–that conservatism has so many young and competent champions. Huckabee has one of the strongest, most articulate voices seen within the conservative movement in years. Palin has the ability to connect with average, God-fearing American people like nobody since Ronald Reagan. Romney is eminently qualified and, despite being a little starched and stiff, is without a doubt exactly what Huckabee said yesterday that we need: a “competent conservative.” If anything comes out of this year’s conference, I hope it is the sentiment that we do not need party unity as much as we need unity among conservatives. If Huckabee and Romney and Palin and their respective corners, crowds and advocates could sort out their differences — my goodness, what a force to be reckoned with.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t invited to CPAC (not surprised at that . . . after all, who the heck am I?) but given my work, law school and family schedules, I’m not so sure I could have made it anyway. Still, I think the overarching message in that setting and beyond is that the road to Republican redemption goes through the heart of conservative principles. We don’t need to build a bigger tent to cover those in the middle as much as we need to patch the holes in the tent over those on the right.

Every day, it seems as though we’re being dealt blow after blow after blow, and indeed we are. That which does not kill us, however, will only make us stronger. And, as John Bolton said yesterday at CPAC: “If we get our act together, [Obama] will be a one-termer.”

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Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    Jeff: They are all attractive candidates. However, not one of them has stepped forward and said “I’m the Leader you are looking for.” Someone needs to really show they have the stomach for this coming fight. I personally like Sanford and Palin, but don’t know if either wants the brutally tough job ahead of them. Someone needs to really assert themselves in the mind of not only consevatives but the American public too.

  2. MaryAlice says:

    To Anonymous:

    Read this:

    http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2009/02/25/1808135.aspx

    also on http://www.newt.org

    See what is happening at
    http://www.americansolutions.com

    He is the best long term thinker for our government. I’m not saying
    that he has not created controversy
    but if listen and watch his speeches, he makes sense. All his ideas etc and everything on American Solutions is for all Americans, not just Dems and Repubs.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Ol’ Huck sure is making good use of his TV show, isn’t he?

    JV

  4. Carrie says:

    Jeff, the link you have for Huckabee’s CPAC Speech is from 2008. The 2009 speech is posted on YouTube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDP968dWbg4 (a homemade version)

  5. Anonymous says:

    Jeff Well said – our government is suffering from OCD
    and needs therapy – We The People therapy !
    We are experiencing a predictable reaction in the world to gluttonus greed / run rampant in this country and we are only adding to /exaserbating the problem by the generational theft through unbridled spending this illicit government is forcing on we the people !
    Let the failure run its natural course as independent free will of the individual takes the challenge of urgent need and invents new financial avenues and successes .
    The skin sheds dead cells through the sloffing process – ….. apply same principle to body
    financial – renewal occurs …….. get the monkey fingers out !
    H.Clinton can’t give eminent domain to China in return for financial security ???????!!!!!!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Jeff, you are absolutely correct…the Republicans need to focus on what unifies us and not engage in personal posturing and bickering….all Republicans have a part to play and something to contribute to this rebuilding effort. We must capitalize on the strengths of each and utilize the ideas of all to energize this party. If we can get people to understand that it is WHAT we say (is it TRUTHFUL) and not always on HOW it is said (was the speaker eloquent in his delivery) that is important. Obama speaks out of both sides of his mouth at once and he says what he ‘thinks’ people want to hear, whether or not he ever intends to follow thru with it is irrelevant. It satisfies his supporters at the moment so that’s all he cares about(this is Rush Limbaugh’s assessment and I agree with it). I think in the next few weeks, we will see Republicans who are ready to move to the forefront begin to take charge and assert themselves…we have some excellent voices within the party but they must walk the walk of conservatism and refrain from being associated with the same types of earmarks and ‘pork’ spending as the dimwits.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Jeff,
    Do you not think these divisions and attacks have not been brought upon themselves? First, by the previous positions some of them have taken. Secondly, by their tacit consent when they knew things were going on under the table. Thirdly, by not taking bold stands (not rhetoric, but action) against the RINO faction.

    For instance my two GA RINO Senators voted for TARP1 and the July 2008 mortgage bailout. Will they this time? Probably not. But how can they be completely trusted? Obviously they are not voting on principle or else they wouldn’t have voted for it before they were against it. I don’t want someone who is going to vote according to the sound of the screeches and shrillness. I want people who represent things because that is who they are from the bottom of their hearts!

    As we tell our children, lying gets extra consequences because trust is such a fragile entity. It’s not a pretty bed the GOP has to lay in but they made it.

    BTW, Because of the dems obsession with race card, it seems GOP almost has to put Jindal/Palin up there, wouldn’t you think?

  8. MaryAlice says:
  9. Bob says:

    You know, Huckabee has ALWAYS said the right thing, but a badly mistaken attack on his Arkansas tax record, caused his message to be LOST in the static.

    Maybe that won’t happen again, if everyone can take a good look at what we got this time around.

  10. dc says:

    Finding “real American Leaders” is difficult.
    Expecting Judges, law enforcers and gov. reps to do their job is another “task.”

    There’s always been corruption and the need to purge it out of the system, like maintaining any machine. But, when the machine is being dismantled from within, those foundational supports (laws, rights etc) are also discarded.

    Even if we have some “decent” leaders who can and would reverse this destruction direction, how can they lead when there are no longer half-way honest elections – or elections at all?

    We need some other Enforcement Group that will actually protect the American people and the once “Constitutional Government” = for the people, by the people.

    It doesn’t help when the “One” who really made American possible is the very One who is kicked out of America.

    The god of this administration is the “prince of the air” (who hates, lies and murders) – plain and simple. Total ruin and control of this Nation is the goal.

    If we can’t get this “acting Prez” to prove and show his real birth certificate, how can we expect any other “fair play” or “within the rules” future actions?

    Godly leaders can only lead when they have the means and opportunity. Anti-America and anti-God scum will do everything in their power to stop this from occurring.

    We need to deal with the Truth and BIG picture, not be distracted by the wagging tail, fake smiles and words that say “surely, if you eat this you will not die.”

  11. Anonymous says:

    I wish you and Ann Coulter would really take a look at Romney’s record. Not what he says now but what he did as governor. He did not govern as a conservative and that is why I will never trust him. The liberals will have a hay day with his flip flops if he continues to advance in the republican party. He is a liability to getting this party on track. I will never trust him no matter how conservative he pretends to be. His record is clear. . . RomneyCare, $50 abortions, same-sex marriage, ban the boy scouts from the olympics because of their “intolerance”. Tax hikes under the name, “fee”. Wake up Jeff! Spend some time studying his record. You take the time to write this blog but refuse to really study Romney’s record. I challenge you to research Romney and report back what you find. Openly and honestly. If you can still support Romney after real research than you have chosen to close both eyes to his liberal record. The Republican National Coalition for Life did not endorse Romney. We are not Romney haters. We are Romney realists. I will fight tooth and nail to expose this man.

    The Mitt Romney Deception:
    http://www.massresistance.org

    http://anncoulterapology.com/

    http://www.viningcommunications.atfreeweb.com/MA_Republicans_For_Truth/Romney_Report/Romney_Report_Part_II.htm

  12. Rix says:

    Obama, one-timer?! This country will be dead and buried long ere his first year ends!

  13. Anonymous says:

    I love Mike Huckabee…I hope he takes on the challenge. His TV show is awesome and I think he can get many independents to rise to the occasion and vote for him as well. I’m just not sure he will take on the job! I would love to see him and Palin on the same ticket…both real conservatives and both willing to do the right thing in putting their country and its citizens first and above politics!!

  14. Anonymous says:

    Obama will be a one termer because he will have to produce his BC if he wants to run next time. He will not pull the wool over our eyes again!!!

  15. MaryAlice says:

    Do any of you have information on this?

    http://www.obamadeception.net/

  16. La Muse Poetique says:

    Hey Jeff -

    I know this isn’t relevant to your post but a friend of mine posted this article and I was wondering if you had any comments on it.

    http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2009/02/jindal_admits_katrina_story_was_false.php?ref=fp1

  17. Spence says:

    Jeff, please be careful not to jump the gun on Mike. He is a self-serving egotist. Please wait a little longer to choose which candidate you want to endorse because we cannot afford to split the conservative vote again and end up with a McCain.

  18. Anonymous says:

    La Muse Poetique,
    I don’t know anything about the site or the sources to know if it is true, but for arguments sake, let’s say it is.

    Did you see the comments over there on that site. They are all laughing b/c BJ was caught in A lie, while their hero does nothing BUT lie. And yet they fail to see themselves.

    The whole world has gone mad. I am glad I don’t put my hope in any of these people but instead in Christ alone. If you’ve ever wondered about the doctrine of total depravity, take a look around.

  19. tm says:

    I agree with Jeff here -
    the problem with romney and huckabee both very smart men is the fundamentalist religion aspect.
    It would be wonderful if the looney far left did not polarize us as wacko christians – which then comes the color bias, gay bias, etc….
    Somehow, Mr. Steele needs to throw shame and blame back at them with a message that seriously shows the left for the loons they really are.
    And how hateful, and divisive their message really is. The left’s message is all about show, Arrogance, elitists, the all about me crew. If the GOP can unite a message to show this successfully we will have no problems in picking a worthy leader.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Here is a link to a you-tube of Mike:

    http://www.freedomslighthouse.com/2009/02/gov-mike-huckabee-speech-at-cpac-2009.html

    American Family Association will also let you view the conference live as well as the achives for a donation to their cause.

    And Spence, facts are when everyone must agree about something, otherwise, it is an opinion. , I totally disagree with you about Huckabee. You have no facts what so ever to back up your opinion. I truly believe that to the best of his human ability, he is doing this because he has the heart of a servant, like no other in politics today.

  21. sharon says:

    I like mike also, he is what we need for the party and has the ability to speak clearly. He cannot beat Obama in 2012 and that is the reality.

  22. dc says:

    MaryAlice ~ intersting clip about the Obama Deception (dvd)
    http://infowars-shop.stores.yahoo.net/obdedvd.html

    Put out by http://www.infowars.com/

    Who has knowledge about them?

  23. Lee Strong says:

    I started out thinking of supporting Thopmpson in 2008, but got bowled over by Huckabee and worked for his campaign here in New York.

    Yes, his show is helping to keep him out there, as is his radio commentary. But what works best is his ability to articulate and connect.

    I liked Palin, and I am unhappy to see tensions between the two camps.

    Romney’s campaign rapidly lost my respect because of some of their antics, and the more I heard from people who experienced him in Mass. the less I liked him. I think he has almost as many problems with the truth as does Obama.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Mitt Romney was my choice. A successful businessman with strong
    moral values, plus his
    pledge to rid us of
    illegal aliens.
    Huckabee wanting to get
    rid of the IRS would
    get my vote also.
    However, I cannot look
    up to any “person” with
    “standing” to take
    LEGAL ACTION against the Usurper President.
    If they (and other’s)
    had demanded to see
    proof of Obama/Soetoro’s eligibility to meet Article II of the Constitution we might
    not be in this MESS.
    I will not support any of them, unless they
    step up to the plate
    and at least try to rid
    us of the usurper.

  25. Lisa says:

    You know, the temptation to not pick a leader b/c they are too “religious” is foolish. My gosh……if that is the case, then we would have never voted for most of our FOUNDING FATHERS! We cannot let our leaders be picked by the liberal left.

    I have watched Huckabee’s show several times, and I have found him to be incredibly articulate, conservative, and ALSO able to relate to flaming, rabid liberals with respect and class. He is humble.

    I don’t understand where someone is getting that he is totally self-serving. Where does that opinion come from?

    Huckabee lives his faith in a way that does not disrespect others who believe differently.

    Just my thoughts.

  26. Granny T says:

    This is a quote from an interview that should shed a little light on what Gov. Huckabee was up against in the state of Arkansas:
    “•Q: You were a very successful Republican governor in the land of Clinton, which was mostly Democrat …

    •A: Oh, totally. A lot of people don’t know this, but my Legislature was the most lopsided in America. We had 11 out of 100 House members who were Republican and 4 out of 35 senators who were Republican when I first took office (in 1996). It was more lopsided than any in the country, including Massachusetts.”
    http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/opinion/s_613768.html

    Who could have achieved as much as Gov. Huckabee did with both Houses of the State Congress holding an 89% majority? Gov. Huckabee has a way of getting things done fiscally responsibly while still working with the opposition in a way that he was able to maintain a high approval rating.

  27. Claudia says:

    Doesn’t anyone remember that Huckabee was responsible for the LARGEST TAX increase in Arkansas history??? And that he left the state almost bankrupt??

    And lest anyone forget, he is a Minister/Preacher and has worked an audience for many years, to get them to believe everything he has wanted them to think and do.

  28. FiscalConservative says:

    Some people insist on spreading lies about Gov. Huckabee.

    For the record Gov. Huckabee left the state with almost a $1 billion surplus- a state record, setting the stage for further tax reductions. The “Huckabee Surplus” enabled his successor to follow Huckabee’s lead to begin the elimination of the state sales tax on food.

    What people need to know it that Huckbee changed Arkansas structurally, but for the better, and along the way he made some enemies that have followed him to this day. One such enemy is Jackson T. Stephens, a former political rival in Arkansas who finicially contributed $1 million to the Club For Growth and became its chairman. The Club For Growth was the loudest critic of Gov. Huckabee, gee I wonder why?

    All you have to do is look at the political collective state of Arkansas, once a democratic strong hold created by the Clintons, is now one of the few states along with only a couple of others that actually turned more republican this last eletion. Check out CNN's election map, if its still up, and you can track voting from the past 3 presidential elecitons. Much of this can be credited as a holdover to how Huckabee govern Arkansas.

    Given the current mess that is the republican party, it would seem like Huckabee is positioned well, based on 10.5 years of turning around the state of Arkansas, to be a strong voice of the right change for the republican party.

    For additional rebuttal of Gov. Huckabee's fiscal record.
    http://www.forum.hucksarmy.com/viewtopic.php?f=72&t=2788

  29. Lance in TX says:

    I think this says it all for why Huckabee would never get my vote (other than the anti-LDS comments he has made over the years including his attacks when he was Keynote speaker for the SBC conference in Utah, He is *NOT* tolerant of my religion and has gone out of his way in the past to make that known. If he cannot accept my religion, he cannot accept me and he cannot have my vote. EVER.)

    #6 most corrupt politician in 2007 as reported by Judicial Watch:

    http://www.judicialwatch.org/judicial-watch-announces-list-washington-s-ten-most-wanted-corrupt-politicians-2007

  30. Southern Doc says:

    I’m very pleased to see articles like this one which try to move the Republican Party out of its circular firing squad. This last election cycle exposed me to just how distorted the perceptions of politicians can become. Having lived in Arkansas during the entire 10 year run of Governor Mike Huckabee I had to repeatedly laugh out loud at him being labeled “liberal,” or “tax and spend.”

    First off, our current Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe is to the right of a third of the Republican governors out there right now. Arkansas voted overwhelmingly for McCain. This state is so conservative our yellowdawg Democrats still don’t know that they’re actually Republicans. And Mike was certainly to the far right of our state’s politics.

    What was laughable, however became disgusting when I realized just how vicious some folks were willing to play intraparty politics for the sake of their candidates. Please, let’s put away the knives. The Republicans need all their leaders on the field and we can save the knives for 2011. Oh, and if it comes to a knife fight against the true opponents on the other side of the aisle, watch out for the man with the Arkansas toothpick.

  31. Anonymous says:

    Governor Huckabee is AS GOOD AS THEY GET! He has never skipped a beat in his work for the Republican Party and the causes we hold dear. His HuckPAC has helped over 80 candidates in elections and continues to work towards getting the right candidates in office. He was my choice in 2008 and he is STILL my choice, but I will no longer participate in bashing Gov. Romney or (harder still) Gov. Palin. We must all stick together because the opposition is the scariest administration to ever be in power and, WHOEVER can take them down, must have ALL of our support. We must stick TOGETHER to work to oust Obama in 2012!!

  32. Anonymous says:

    Personally, it appears to me as though Governor Huckabee is the best choice for our party. He knows what we stand for and will not compromise. I’m very impressed with how he is capable of articulating the most difficult things in a way that the average American can understand – which, of course, means that he, himself, clearly understands. It is obvious that he has a brilliant mind. As far as dividing the party, he is the only one that can bring our party together because he is not divisive, but instead respectful of all. His experience and past record outshines any of the others. I hope people will quit believing the misinformation that has been viciously slung out about him and carefully observe and listen and decide for themselves in the next few years. The is the person we’ve all been waiting for to lead our party.

  33. Lynn says:

    I’m so pleased to see a positive article about Gov. Mike Huckabee on AmericasRight.com! I hope you will see what many of us discovered: a true conservative… bold leader with fresh ideas that work… someone who can work with both sides of the aisle… a very gifted communicator who can effectively promote conservative principles to the American public, esp. the younger generation.

    The late Paul Weyrich initially supported Romney, but after the primaries, he told a gathering of conservatives in New Orleans, “I was wrong.” He said we should have gotten behind Huckabee right from the start.

    We allowed a few elite but mistaken voices (Limbaugh, Coulter, Hannity) to bench our best player! If Fred Thompson hadn’t aggressively campaigned AGAINST Huckabee in South Carolina, Huckabee could have won at least second there…and had momentum going into Florida. And how about if FoxNews and Hannity hadn’t lied about Huckabee withdrawing from Florida?? Things might have turned out differently…and maybe we wouldn’t have Obama as president now.

    An election is too important to allow yourself to be misled. Don’t let others make up your mind for you. Do your OWN research and get the HARD FACTS, not biased opinion.

    PS Huckabee has not served as a pastor for 17 years. And if that position helped him learn to communicate with people and convince them, isn’t that what we want in a candidate?

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