Monday, January 28, 2008

Why not Huckabee?

I have gotten a number of inquiries in response to my endorsement of Mitt Romney. Most of them are of the form: "Why are you not supporting [some other candidate]?"

Liberals tend to ask why I am not supporting John McCain. That fact speaks for itsself.

But by far the most common response was "Why are you not supporting Mike Huckabee?"

I like Mike Huckabee. I think that he has brought a lot of interest to the race, and has had a positive impact on the debates and the candidates, forcing them to raise issues which might never have come up if he was not present. He is smart, eloquent, funny, and says a lot of the right things.

However, his record is not nearly as stellar as his rhetoric. Based on what he actually did as governor of Arkansas, it is hard to describe him as a conservative. Conservatism is based on principles of limited government, the rule of law, and seperation of powers. Huckabee seems to see government as the solution to every problem.

Huckabee's economic policy was best described as populist. As governor of Arkansas, Huckabee repeatedly increased or expanded the sales tax; hiked the corporate income tax; imposed an income-tax surcharge on individuals and domestic and foreign corporations; raised the tax on gasoline and diesel fuel; taxed admission to theme parks and other tourist activities; taxed snuff, cigarettes, mixed drinks, private clubs and retail sales of beer; and so on. Now, in fairness to Huck, part of the tax increases were forced due to a court order to balance the budget and increase school funding. But a large part was used to increase the wealth redistribution programs that liberals love so much.

Huckabee is not only weak on foreign policy, he has said some dangerously ignorant things on the subject, leading me to question the wisdom of putting him in charge of the State Department and the US Military. Huckabee's talk about the War on Terror sounds a lot like Bill Clinton's policy during his eight years: If we are nice to them and talk with them and appease them, they will be nice back to us. It was disasterously misguided then, and it is even moreso now. Read this article as an example.

Huckabee's record on illegal immigration is also wrongheaded. As governor, Huckabee supported government-funded scholarships for illegal immigrants. To be very clear about what this means, Mike Huckabee not only wants people who are breaking the law by being in this country to be able to attend state universities, he wants to force law-abiding taxpayers to subsidize their tuition.

The case of rapist and murderer Wayne DuMond who was released from Arkansas prison with Huckabee's approval, and went on to kill two more women, has gotten some attention, but it is not the only case. Huckabee earned a reputation among Arkansas criminals as an easy mark: if you get a pastor to vouch for you, Governor Huckabee will pardon you.

Huckabee's Christianity is his strongest selling point. I appreciate his boldness and unequivocal answers to questions about evolution and his faith in God. However, it seems to me that Huckabee fails to grasp the distinction between Christian principles applied by individuals and the policy of a nation's government. Huckabee applies principles of grace, forgiveness, and charity by pardoning violent criminals, subsidizing college educations for lawbreakers, and dialoging with terrorists.

In a number of cases, Huckabee talked about "forgiveness" as he pardoned criminals. Aren't Christians supposed to forgive? Seventy times seven and all. But Huckabee is not the one who needs to forgive a murderer or rapist, because he was not the one who was wronged. Forgiveness means that I decide to not hold the fact that you hurt me against you. It does not mean that all consequences are removed. That was a key mistake in the impeachment of President Clinton: liberals in the media kept saying "Shouldn't we forgive President Clinton?" As if forgiveness meant that the consequences specified by the law would no longer apply. The job of a President or Governor is to uphold the law and protect society, not to act like a priest dispensing forgiveness.

Huckabee appealed to the idea of charity to support his policy of subsidizing the college tuition of illegal immigrants. This is not much different from liberals who want us to be beholden to their kindness and generosity for funding wealth redistribution programs. The problem is that generosity and charity ought to be with your own money, not with someone else's.

I wouldn't mind having Mike Huckabee as a pastor. I think I would enjoy sitting down and having lunch with him and discussing various topics. I'd happily go to hear him speak on current issues or on spiritual topics. But I don't think that he would make a good President.

No comments: