By Scott Tibbs, January 7, 2008
With Mike Huckabee's surge in the polls and his win in Iowa, many conservatives (especially Rush Limbaugh) are criticizing Huckabee's credentials as a true conservative. Some conservatives are criticizing Huckabee as "a GOP Clinton".
This is partially right, in that there are some similarities on policy issues. Huckabee, like Mr. Clinton, has brought along a lot of supporters on the strength of his personal charisma. However, Disgraced Ex-President Clinton was arguably the most morally bankrupt President in American history. While Huckabee's record on limited government is less than perfect (I am being charitable here) he is an exponentially better person than Mr. Clinton.
"Values Voters" pulled Bush's rear end out of the fire in 2004, when the Democrats were incredibly motivated to defeat him and his record on limited government was poor. These failures included campaign finance reform that regulates the content of political speech, a brand new federal entitlement program, a significant expansion of the federal government's influence into local school systems.
Should Huckabee win the nomination, I would not count on "Values Voters" saving Huckabee from defeat unless he demonstrates that he is a true fiscal conservative over the course of the next 10 months. Big government "conservatism" (a contradiction in terms if there ever was one) is not a sustainable political strategery in the long term. We should have learned that lesson in 2006.
As I've pointed out in the past, Rudy Giuliani is an idiot if he thinks his "moderate" stances on social issues will help him win. He obviously does not get it. As I said above, "Values Voters" are the primary reason Bush won in 2004. Even the Democrats get it, as they showed when they recruited several pro-life Democrats (including Brad Ellsworth and Joe Donnelly here in Indiana) to run in 2006. That strategery worked.
Here's another interesting take on Huckabee. The main thing that I disagree with in that article dispute is that the phenomenon of big government "conservatism" is not new - President Bush has been governing as a big-government "conservative" for seven years.
In the late 1990's, pundits were talking about how Disgraced Ex-President Clinton represented a "third way" that would resonate with voters: progressive on social issues and conservative on fiscal issues. (Mr. Clinton was no fiscal conservative, but that's another issue.) A "third way" to the traditional Left/Right divide on public policy did appear with Bush, who is fiscally liberal and socially conservative. It is interesting that this is exactly the opposite of Clinton's "third way" that was supposed to be the key to political success in the future.