February 15, 2008

Patriot Candidate Profile: Mike Huckabee

“The public cannot be too curious concerning the characters of public men.” –Samuel Adams

In his victory speech after sweeping the Potomac Primaries, John McCain had this to say about his primary Republican opponent: “I want to commend my friend, Governor Huckabee, whose spirited campaign, many gifts as a communicator and advocate, and passionate supporters are a credit to him and our party.”

That wasn’t exactly an invitation for Mike Huckabee to join McCain’s ticket, but the prospect is an evermore-distinct possibility.

I first met Mike Huckabee in 1992 at the onset of the Clintonista siege. I was a few pounds lighter, and he a few pounds heavier.

A mutual friend (who was, at that time, the strongest Reagan Republican in Tennessee’s State Senate) thought enough of Mike that he pulled together a group of the Volunteer State’s conservative mafia to see what we could do to help this guy fill the seat of a Clinton crony, former Lt. Gov. Jim Guy Tucker, who had moved up to take Clinton’s post.

We pitched in, and a year later, Mike won a special election, becoming only the second Republican elected Lt. Governor since the War Between the States. He was re-elected to a full term as Lt. Gov. in 1994.

Two years later, Tucker was among the Clinton front men convicted for Whitewater shenanigans, in his case for arranging nearly $3 million in fraudulent loans. He was forced to resign, and he thus gave the keys to the Governor’s mansion to Mike Huckabee.

Huckabee served out the remainder of Tucker’s term and was elected outright to a full term in 1998, and re-elected in 2002.

Mike Huckabee and Bill Clinton have some things in common: They were both born in Hope, Arkansas, both served as Governor of Arkansas, both chaired the National Governors Association and both are amateur musicians – Huckabee playing bass guitar with his band, Capitol Offense.

The similarities end there.

Huckabee grew up in a caring, intact family. His father was a fireman, and his mother a clerk. They scraped together enough to live modestly. “Some of us know what it’s like to start at the bottom of the ladder,” he says, “but where you finish is up to you.” Mike’s formative years were steeped in Christian teaching and discipline. He says that his father was “the ultimate patriot. You know, he’d lay on the stripes, and I’d see stars.”

He was president of Hope High School in 1973, and two-and-a-half years later he graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree from Ouachita Baptist University, a small, academically competitive institution.

In 1974, he married (and notably, is still married to) Janet McCain (no relation). They have three children.

My original impression of Mike was that he was an honest, intelligent, plainspoken man guided by an indissoluble reliance on God. He made no apology for the fact that his political views were shaped by his faith. “Politics are totally directed by worldview,” says Huckabee. “That’s why when people say, ‘We ought to separate politics from religion,’ I say to separate the two is absolutely impossible.”

However, that impression has, to be polite, weathered a bit over the years.

Huckabee’s overall Patriot Candidate Rating is a “6”, placing him between John McCain (5) and Mitt Romney (7). He gets high marks for his character, leadership ability and record as a constitutional constructionist, but low marks on experience, and his contemptible record on taxation and spending, which is, well, Bushy.

During his tenure, he rolled the South’s economic boom – and his state’s subsequent increases in tax collections – into a 65-percent increase in state spending by 2004. According to the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, between 1996 and 2006 Huckabee signed 90 tax-reduction measures totaling $378 million, and 21 tax increases totaling $883 million.

When Huckabee entered office, Arkansas had a $200-million deficit. When he left, it had an $850-million surplus, though the state’s general-debt obligations increased by almost $1 billion. His tax-and-spend policies undermined the integrity of Arkansas’ state Republican Party.

As Fred Thompson observed, “Mike Huckabee talks like a Republican but taxes like a Democrat.”

However, it should be noted that much of the new spending initiated by Huckabee was for dilapidated infrastructure, particularly highways and bridges, dilapidation he inherited from Gov.Clinton. Huckabee’s tax initiatives were approved by voters.

Predictably, and commendably, he supported many conservative initiatives to strengthen marriage and families while governor.

In his quest for the presidency, Huckabee’s support for Operation Iraqi Freedom and his support for border security and comprehensive immigration reform mirror positions advocated by The Patriot, with the notable exception that he does not support an end to the Constitution’s misinterpreted provision regarding birthright citizenship, which has perpetuated the “anchor baby” influx.

He supports conservative family and faith initiatives, including the affirmation of life at conception and the objection to same-sex “marriage.” He would maintain the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on homosexuals in the military and a prohibition on women in combat roles.

However, he opposes school choice (vouchers), which won him the dubious endorsement of the National Education Association of New Hampshire. He does support homeschooling rights, and alternatives such as charter schools.

He supports the constructionist interpretation of First and Second Amendment rights.

Despite his record on taxes in Arkansas, Huckabee says the FairTax should replace the current tax system: “That’s the first thing I’d love to do as president, put a ‘Going Out of Business’ sign on the Internal Revenue Service and stop the $10 billion a year that it costs just for them to operate. If we had a fair tax, it would eliminate not just the alternative minimum tax, personal income tax, corporate tax, it would eliminate all the various taxes that are hidden in our system, and Americans don’t realize what they’re paying. It would be revenue neutral. It’s the best proposal that we ought to have, because it’s flatter, it’s fairer, it’s finite, it’s family-friendly.”

Perhaps the most significant reason to keep a skeptical eye on Huckabee is, as we noted with John McCain, the Leftmedia’s sycophantic accolades for these two campaigns.

Never, NEVER take advice from your enemy.

Perhaps the best thing I can say about Mike now is that McCain/Huckabee has a much nicer ring than McCain/Giuliani.

(Publisher’s Note: The Patriot’s editors have provided Presidential Candidate Ratings. These ratings are based on comprehensive analysis of many factors, including each candidate’s record, experience, capability, character, leadership qualifications and, of course, demonstrated ability to grasp the plain language of our Constitution – and promote it accordingly.)

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