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Tag Archives: Mike Huckabee

Being the chief executive of a state government is the best on-the-job training you can get for being the chief executive of the Federal government.  Many of the same elements are in play; budgetary concerns, legislative relations, muckraking opponents, the press, and a hundred other mundane challenges that the average person never hears about.

Sarah Palin had the opportunity to gain more executive experience – heck, she had the job! – and she just blew it off.  This is a problem for Palin’s fans and a boon for her detractors because Palin (to date) has given no coherent reason for her resignation.  The most likely reasons for the resignation seem to be that (1) She was unable to adequately perform the duties of her office due to the numerous (bogus) ethics complaints and attendant investigations pending and (2) She hopes to cash in on her fame by selling a book and/or giving speeches.  Unfortunately for her, Palin hasn’t personally gone on the record stating (1) and her ex-future-son-in-law has gone on the record theorizing (2).

Expanding on my theory that gubernatorial experience is the ideal training for the presidency, let’s look at Palin’s potential competition for the Republican nom in 2012:

  • Mike Huckabee served one half-term (appointed) and two full terms (elected) as governor of Arkansas. 
  • Tim Pawlenty is serving out his second term in Minnesota.
  • Haley Barbour is serving out his second term in Mississippi.
  • Mitt Romney served one full term in Massachusetts.
  • Bobby Jindal of Louisiana has less experience as governor than Palin, but by 2012 will have surpassed her.

In this sample group of sixRepublican prospects, Palin will come be the least experienced executive come 2012, and she is no longer gaining experience.  At the same time she is tied for the least legislative experience, with none.  Please, Palin backers, don’t try this at home.  Touting her mayoral experience won’t cut cheese with me.

I’ve waited this long to express an opinion on Sarah Palin’s resignation because I kept thinking that there’s more to it, that there’s a statement or revelation forthcoming that will make it all make sense.  But that isn’t happening, and if hasn’t by now, I don’t think it will.

It’s over, Sarah.  You were a longshot, but you still had a shot.  And now you’ve blown it.


John McCain wasn’t originally my guy – I was a Huckabee man in the primaries – but I’m proud to have voted for such a great and accomplished American for president.  In his concession speech McCain showed that he possesses class and self-possession that Barack Obama can only dream of.

You can expect this blog to remain mostly silent for the foreseeable future, but I remain a committed supporter of conservative Republican principles.  There will be postings from time to time and I’ll use this blog as an outlet for my philosophical murmurings when my wife gets tired of listening to me.  Most of all, I’ll be watching and waiting for Mike Huckabee to signal his intentions with regard to 2012.

Pray for Barack Obama.  He’s our president for the next four years and there’s nothing to do now but hope for the best.

That’s it, I’ve convinced myself.  Not only to the point of certainty, but so much so that I’m convinced that my certainty is certainly justified: Tim Pawlenty is going to be John McCain’s running mate in 2008.

John McCain with future vice president Tim Pawlenty

John McCain with future vice president Tim Pawlenty

Pawlenty is a conservative Evangelical Christian with a compelling “poor-boy-makes-good” story, legislative and executive experience, and a good reputation.  He’s been elected as a conservative twice in a majority-liberal state, and he’s quick with an answer and (usually) clever with a quip.  Pawlenty has been a personal friend of McCain for more than twenty years, he has been a loyal McCain supporter since the very beginning of McCain’s campaign (he was the co-chair of McCain’s exploratory committee) and he stuck with McCain even during the darkest hours of the campaign when his staff was abandoning him for Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson.

It seems that lately the chatter about potential Republican veep candidates has centered around the runner-up and second runner-up in the Republican contest, Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney.  But neither man is likely to get the nod.

Mike Huckabee

Mike Huckabee

Despite frequent praise and compliments during the campaign, McCain isn’t going to name Mike Huckabee because Huckabee is scorned by the fiscal conservative establishment and the East Coast intellectual class.

And despite the demands of the fiscal conservative establishment, McCain isn’t going to name Mitt Romney because he already knows that Romney is a man without honor – and honor is important to McCain.  Romney is a plastic man, a man without principles, who only turned conservative in his late fifties when he began to eye the White House.  Besides, Romney wrote the book on how to waste millions of dollars while losing an election.

Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney

Pawlenty will be a darling of conservative Christians and he can pick up many of the Southern voters who would otherwise have voted for Huckabee.  Pawlenty came from humble roots (unlike Romney) to put himself through college and law school (unlike Romney) and has legislative experience (unlike Romney).  Like Romney, Pawlenty ran for governor in a liberal state and won, but he did it by campaigning as a conservative (unlike Romney).

It would be a great public relations gift for McCain to announce Pawlenty as his running mate at the national convention in St Paul – the capital of the state that Pawlenty has been governing since 2002; the networks would have a irresistible opportunity to fawn over a new name and a fresh face in an adoring environment.

If you happened to watch McCain on Jay Leno’s show on August 25, you saw him praise Pawlenty (when Leno asked specifically about Pawlenty) by calling him a great governor with whom he has ideals and principles in common.

Final clue that McCain plans to pick Pawlenty: Pawlenty has already been designated as a featured speaker on the final day of the Republican convention.  Seriously, John McCain, this is no way to keep a secret!

Here’s a rundown of some possible Republican vice presidential candidates and why they won’t be picked.  Bear in mind that this article doesn’t represent a prediction, but an analysis.  Prospects are named in alphabetical order:

Charlie Crist – Because of the slick metrosexual image he projects, Crist won’t appeal to a large portion of the meat-and-potatoes Republican crowd.  The too-tan skin, the snow-white hair and the waxed eyebrows are just too much for most regular guys, even if they do appeal to some fractional portion of the female conservative electorate.

Mike Huckabee – So many religious conservatives are demanding that Huckabee be added to the ticket, it just might provoke McCain’s contrarian nature into giving Huck the old heave-ho.  There’s also the concern that having two gaffe-prone white guys on the ticket is too risky in the age of the modern media, where every mistake and mispronunciation is published on a million blogs and websites within hours.  Huckabee has a fantastic future ahead of him, but it may not include the senior Senator from Arizona.

Kay Bailey Hutchison – Hutchison is no spring chicken at 65 years old, and she has said publicly that she doesn’t even want the job – she’d rather be governor of Texas.  There’s also the little nitpicky fact that Hutchison is a centrist Republican, as is McCain.  So this would be a moderate-moderate ticket, not likely to appeal to the conservative base.

Bobby Jindal – Though Jindal’s conservatism is manifested in very practical ways (i.e. opposition to corruption, reform of Louisiana’s state government), his devout Catholicism and his youth can be used against him.  Critics will draw attention to what they see as a quaint and backward perspective on the world, and they will point out that at age 37 he is younger and less experienced that Barack Obama.

Joe Lieberman – Despite McCain’s close friendship with Lieberman, this is a mistake that must never be made.  Lieberman is a liberal hawk, which is exactly how  many conservatives see McCain.  The Lieberman option would be a disaster for McCain’s candidacy and for the Republican party, and Senator McCain is smart enough to know that.

Tim Pawlenty – Like John McCain, Pawlenty is a very intelligent and very glib individual who sometimes makes off-the-cuff remarks that he later regrets.  Pawlenty is in some respects a younger version of McCain, and despite their mutual admiration, the two don’t make a complementary pairing.

David Petraeus – A McCain-Petraeus ticket would be an all-military ticket (remember that McCain was a naval officer), and though most conservatives would love it, at the same time it would give many Americans the willies.  In this case, the upside is the downside.  Besides, not enough is known about Petraeus’s views on moral and political matters.

Rob Portman – Portman is just the sort of wonky politico-type whose expertise would compensate for McCain’s non-detail-oriented approach to politics.  Portman’s experience is extensive and varied, his resume dazzling.  But the campaign might have a hard time selling this former member of the Bush administration to the American public, and anyway, he’s believed to have his eye on the Ohio governor’s mansion.

Condoleeza Rice – Though some may consider it a coup for McCain to have a black woman for his running mate, Rice is probably too closely associated with George W. Bush to help McCain win any significant portion of the black vote.  Besides, Ms. Rice has repeatedly and adamantly stated that she has absolutely no desire to be anyone’s vice president.  After nearly eight years of working in the White House, Rice is believed to be yearning for the quiet academic environment of her beloved Stanford University.

Tom Ridge – Ridge certainly has the homeland security chops and serious demeanor to head up the anti-terrorism front of a presidential campaign (or adminstration), but he’s old and white and boring.  Ridge won’t dazzle the younger voters and he won’t win over the swing voters.  He’s better suited to a role in the cabinet than to one on the campaign trail.

Mitt Romney – If McCain is looking for someone to perform as a surrogate campaigner, he’d better look elsewhere.  No one has ever spent so much money to perform so dismally on the campaign trail and at the polls as Romney in the Republican primaries.  Romney can occasionally put together a few good minutes on the campaign trail, but he’s too surly and too obnoxious – and too ambitious – to be an effective running mate.  Romney is also a pathological flip-flopper, and that means that he isn’t to be trusted.

Mark Sanford – Sanford is a youthful and appealing party loyalist, an ideological conservative, and a good public speaker.  Sanford might be an effective campaigner among the southern conservative set; those who want their politicians to be like their pastors: true believers.  The evangelical community is leery of McCain’s conservative creds, and it may be that Sanford can seal the South for McCain.  Unfortunately for Sanford, he’s a southern white man, and if McCain wanted one of those he would probably pick his friend Mike Huckabee.

Michael Steele – The Republicans would love to have a conservative black leader step up to the plate, and Michael Steele’s name has frequently been mentioned in that context.  Unfortunately, it seems to this commentator that Steele’s reputation exceeds him.  His supposedly great oratorical skills are dwarfed by those of such stalwarts as Allan Keyes and Mike Huckabee, and his career seems to be stalled somewhere between minor state office and the major national stage.

John Thune – The future of the Republican party resides in people like Thune, a regular looking guy who can appeal to Southern conservatives, midwestern evangelicals, and western libertarians alike.  His resume isn’t as thin as some would suggest, with three terms as a member of the US House of Representatives and one term as a US Senator, but he is still rather young and Republicans do prefer their politicians to be rather more seasoned.  More importantly from the strategic standpoint, Thune is from South Dakota, a state with only three electoral votes.  And his profile is very low even in neighboring states, so he brings very little to the table electorally.

Have I missed anyone?  Please let me know with a comment if there’s anyone else whose resume you would like me to shred.

As the Democrats bite, scratch, and kick down the homestretch and it appears more and more likely that Barack Obama is going to be their nominee, it’s also becoming ever more obvious that John McCain needs Mike Huckabee to be his running mate.

Obama is a gifted campaigner and the Democrats are enthusiastic about their chances for the presidency this election cycle.  That enthusiasm has been translating into fundraising dollars at an impressive rate ever since campaigning began back in the spring of 2007.

Much has been made of the fact that while Obama and Clintn have been emptying their bank accounts to fund their primary campaigns, John McCain has been attending to behind-the-scenes business, raising funds for his general election campaign, and vetting possible VP candidates.  He’s been spending very little money since his rivals all petered out earlier this spring, but fundraising hasn’t exactly been gangbusters, either.

Whether it’s a result of ineptitude or a general lack of interest in the subject, McCain has never been an effective fundraiser.  In an election year when much of the electorate is going to embrace Obama’s issues, McCain will find that money is an even more important consideration in this election than most.  So how do the Republicans compensate for the old soldier’s fiscal deficiency?

The suggestion from Righty Loosey is to bring Mike Huckabee fully into the fold.  Huckabee brings with him a ready-made and highly committed grassroots movement (“Huck’s Army”) which already has experience with fundraising, volunteer telemarketing, and get-out-the-vote campaigns.  The infrastructure is already there and the experience is there.  The results are plain to see – just see how Huckabee overachieved at the polls during the primary campaign.  His financial resources were modest, but Huckabee was able to motivate his followers to make committed and effective efforts to boost the campaign – and it worked!  Huckabee won nine states outright and would have received an enormous boost by winning South Carolina as well, had Fred Thompson not been doing McCain’s dirty work by stealing votes from Huckabee in that state.

By linking himself to Huckabee, McCain can sign on thousands of committed and effective volunteers, a resource he’ll be glad to have once general campaigning begins in earnest in July.  It’s the smart move, and no less so for being such an obvious one.

Pick Mike Huckabee, Senator McCain.

The chatter in the blogosphere the last few days is all about a supposed recent disclosure (trial balloon?) from a major McCain fundraiser who says that Mike Huckabee is John McCain’s favorite potential running mate.

Actually, it’s unclear whether Huckabee is McCain’s favorite or the favorite of McCain’s strategists.  The distinction is significant, because McCain’s maverick reputation is well-earned; McCain may choose the Huckster against his handlers’ wishes if it’s his idea, or he may rebel against those handlers if Huck’s candidacy is their idea.

And the fact may well be that this rumor is only being floated to see how the public responds.  If that’s the case, it isn’t the enthusiastic response of evangelicals and social conservatives that’s being measured, because their ardor for Huckabee is well known.  It’s the response of moderates, fiscal conservatives, neocons, Ron Paul nuts, and conservative Democrats that interests those strategists.

As with any vice presidential pick, Huckabee would bring both positives and negatives to the ticket.  Here’s my plus/minus analysis for Mike Huckabee.

Plus:  Social conservatives and Evangelical Christians love Huckabee earnestly because he doesn’t condescend to them and because they know where his ideals come from.  They love a candidate whose motives are pure and to whom they can relate.

Plus:  Southerners, even black Southerners, like Huckabee’s background and demeanor.  He can help McCain win the South, which is in play because Obama is so popular with African Americans.

Plus:  Huckabee is a killer debater and a gifted orator.  Whoever Obama selects as his running mate will have to be a very talented and very aggressive debater in order to hold his/her own in the VP debates.  That’s because Huckabee’s only obvious weakness (observed from Republican debates) is responding to direct attacks and insults.

Plus:  Huck’s Army.  This is the volunteer corps of 20,000 dedicated grassroots supporters who marched, blogged, put up signs, telemarketed, and otherwise campaigned on Huckabee’s behalf during his prexy campaign.  You sign up Huckabee, you get Huck’s Army in the bargain, and that’s like getting free money.  Even better, it’s like getting free paid employees.

Plus:  The tireless campaigner, Mike Huckabee.  Knows how to operate on four hours of sleep seven days a week.  This is a must for the Republicans, because 2008 is looking like a down year for the party.  Extra hard work will be required in order to be competitive.  We know that McCain is up to the task, but he needs his #2 to be capable as well.

Minus:  Huckabee has been, and continues to be, scorned by fiscal conservatives for raising some taxes in Arkansas, at the same time he was cutting others and balancing the state budget every year.

Minus:  Democrats may attack Huckabee’s religiosity, and doing so may be an effective tactic.  For reasons that I tried to spell out in this post (, many Americans are uncomfortable with religion – especially Christianity – and will object to the way the an Evangelical like Huckabee tends to mix religious symbolism and rhetoric with his everyday speech.  It’s no affectation, of course – it’s just the way Southerners (and Northern evangelicals) talk.  They can’t help using religious metaphors or figures of speech drawn from scripture, because it’s part of their culture.  But there are several strains of secular hostility to religious expression in this country, be they elitist, atheistic, antitheistic, or just ignorant.

Minus:  Neither McCain nor Huckabee has a degree from a prestigious university, though both attended very rigorous schools.  Huckabee’s early graduation magna cum laude from Ouachita State University in Arkansas isn’t going to impress most Americans, and neither will his unfinished M Div at Southwestern Theological Seminary.  (McCain graduated from the US Naval Academy.)  So Huckabee won’t be able to make up for McCain’s perceived academic deficiencies.

Righty Loosey says:  Choosing Huckabee for his running mate would be a shrewd move by John McCain.  A candidate can either shore up the base or poach votes from the opposition, seldom does he have a chance to do both.  In this case, John McCain can shore up the conservative base while stealing the blue collar vote from Barack Obama, if only he’s smart enought to select Huckabee for Veep.

One more reason to like Mike Huckabee…

Huckabee was on Joe Scarborough’s show the other day, and Scarborough brought up the controversy surrounding Barack Obama and his pastor (or retired former pastor) Louis Wright.  Scarborough, it seems, was looking for a statement of righteous indignation from Huckabee, but the Huck man would have none of it:

“It’s interesting to me that there are some people on the left who are having to be very uncomfortable with what Louis Wright said, when they all were all over a Jerry Falwell, or anyone on the right who said things that they found very awkward and uncomfortable years ago. Many times those were statements lifted out of the context of a larger sermon. Sermons, after all, are rarely written word for word by pastors like Reverend Wright, who are delivering them extemporaneously, and caught up in the emotion of the moment. There are things that sometimes get said, that if you put them on paper and looked at them in print, you’d say “Well, I didn’t mean to say it quite like that.”

Scarborough asked Huckabee to assess the potential political consequences of the Obama/Wright situation, and got this response:

“I don’t think we know. If this were October, I think it would have a dramatic impact. But it’s not October. It’s March. And I don’t believe that by the time we get to October, this is gonna be the defining issue of the campaign, and the reason that people vote.

And one other thing I think we’ve gotta remember. As easy as it is for those of us who are white, to look back and say “That’s a terrible statement!”…I grew up in a very segregated south. And I think that you have to cut some slack — and I’m gonna be probably the only Conservative in America who’s gonna say something like this, but I’m just tellin’ you — we’ve gotta cut some slack to people who grew up being called names, being told “you have to sit in the balcony when you go to the movie. You have to go to the back door to go into the restaurant. And you can’t sit out there with everyone else. There’s a separate waiting room in the doctor’s office. Here’s where you sit on the bus…” And you know what? Sometimes people do have a chip on their shoulder and resentment. And you have to just say, I probably would too. I probably would too. In fact, I may have had more of a chip on my shoulder had it been me.”

I’m tempted to give Huckabee an attaboy, but I won’t because these temperate and thoughtful answers aren’t the result of political calculation or cleverness.  This is just Huckabee being his own decent and rational self, and for that he doesn’t deserve our congratulations; he deserves our respect and admiration.

One struggling small townIt’s time for Americans to recognize the value of our small cities and towns, and to take steps to help the people who remain outside of our large cities to see fair value for their work; rewards for their investments.  Our small towns are the strong, silent type – providing resources and contributing to the prosperity of our country while making little noise and asking for little in return.

It’s critically important that we help our small towns and rural areas to grow and flourish.  For too many generations we Americans have been neglecting our country cousins, leaving the countryside more desolate and unpopulated with each generation.  It’s true that some towns have survived, even prospered, but usually at the expense of the surrounding countryside and surrounding communities.

This isn’t a desperate last call to action.  There are still a lot of busy little towns in America and a lot of people who appreciate the advantages of the un-city lifestyle.  But as farms continually consolidate and grow larger and as many towns are either stagnant or shrinking, the population of the American countryside is becoming more sparse and prospects for those who live there are becoming more bleak.  The economies of these tiny towns and small cities are dependent on a variety of factors, but the biggest and most common is agriculture.

Farmers have been doing well the last couple of years, and we need to see to it that doesn’t change.  The advent of ethanol-based fuels for our vehicles and the general increase in commodity prices have been good for farmers and those whose livelihoods are dependent on the farm economy.  This is a trend that ought to continue.

Unfortunately, infrastructure projects have passed small-town America by for far too long.  Roads and bridges are in disrepair, schools are consolidating and closing, the information superhighway is bypassing far too many of America’s byways.  Local governments are hard-pressed to meet the needs of their communities, and diminishing populations result in fewer financial resources available to meet those needs.

The people of the United States ought to recognize that for more than two hundred years now, our farms and small towns have been pouring horsepower and brainpower into the national economy and helping to drive the success and prosperity of this country.  Former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has correctly observed that a country that can’t produce its own food and manufacture its own arms isn’t really free.  I would add that a country of empty frontiers and ghost towns isn’t really prosperous, no matter how wealthy and luxurious its cities appear to be.

A California court has ruled that parents must be credentialed in order to educate their own children at home.  In its decision, the Second District Court of Appeals stated that “parents do not have a constitutional right to home school their children.”

What does this mean?  In a practical sense it means that parents without teaching and counselling certificates will be breaking the law if they keep their children out of school and teach them at home.

In an ideological sense it means that the California courts system has decided that children are the property of the government, and parents are merely tools of the government, responsible for providing a government-approved education.

This decision affects not only the 166,000 homeschool children of California; it could have a chilling effect on homeschooling nationwide, which is a shame.  A disproportionate number of brilliant American children come from homeschooling families, and the standardized test scores of these children are also higher than those from public schools.  In addition to personalized teaching from a teacher who loves them, these children also benefit from one-on-one attention from a teacher whose motivation is greater than money or continued employment.

Ironically, the website of the San Francisco Chronicle has reported that 5.5% of California’s public schoolteachers lack the same credentials being cited as so important in this decision.

The Governator

To his credit, California’s usually liberal Republican governor has spoken up in support of the overwhemingly conservative homeschooling community, saying this: “This outrageous ruling must be overturned by the courts and if the courts don’t protect parents’ rights then, as elected officials, we will.”

Mike HuckabeeAs Republican voters go to the polls in Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas, and Vermont tomorrow, I hope they’ll remember  which candidate wanted to debate for them, and which one chose to serve barbecued ribs to reporters instead.

Mike Huckabee challenged John McCain to a debate before March 4, and the Values Voter coalition came through in the clutch, arranging for a debate hall and inviting both McCain and Huckabee, as well as Rep Ron Paul to participate in a March 3 debate event.

After Governor Huckabee had accepted the invitation, Senator McCain said that he had a prior commitment and begged off.  His prior commitment turned out to be a barbecue dinner for reporters, at which he apparently did nothing more than slop cole slaw and ribs onto the trays of impartial journalists.

It’s true what the Dallas Morning News published in an editorial on Sunday March 2: win or lose, a vote for Mike Huckabee is a good investment in the Republican party’s future.