« Reading Right | Main | What To Do About Bad Guys? »

September 02, 2007

Huckamania

by Nicholas Beaudrot of Electoral Math

Some assorted thoughts on the Mike Huckabee boomlet:

  • I'm glad some more people have made it to the party. Markos and I were wondering if anyone else would show up.
  • I have to think there's a certain amount of pundit's fallacy behind support for Huckabee. Huckabee is very affable on television, and he seems to be willing to separate campaigning from governing in a way that the Republican party hasn't done since at least the H.W. Bush Administration. In addition, I'd much rather the GOP turn into the party of "Sam's Club Republicanism"—socially conservative, economically moderate or even liberal on occasion— than become the quasi-libertarian party (lower taxes and less regulation of sex), or the War Party. I can't speak for Ezra, Matt, et al., but in my judgement the odds of passing a good health care bill with Huckabee as President are much higher than, say, with Giuliani or Romney in charge. It's not entirely clear that the GOP will be forced to adopt a Huckabee-esque approach in order to win elections. A pro-choice candidate who pushed other pro-family policies and promised more tax cuts might win back more of the socially moderate suburbs while holding on to enough conservatives in the South and West to get to 270 votes.
  • That said, the Supreme Court is already awfully reactionary as it is. The pro-Roe majority on the Supreme Court is currently 5-to-4, and the justices most likely to retire or both pro-Roe. To say nothing of the rulings like Ledbetter or the Seattle/Louisville school integration cases.
  • Mike Huckabee supports "Fair Tax", which is a total sham. Right-of-center economist Bruce Bartlett did the right thing by publishing this op-ed in the WSJ on what a fraud Fair Tax really is. I nominate Brad DeLong to determine appropriate sanctions for any PhD-holding economist who signs on as an economic adviser to Huckabee, unless said economist can convince the candidate to scrap Fair Tax or at least come up with a workable VAT/sales tax plan. While saying nice things about Huckabee is a fun intellectual exercise, when the rubber hits the road his "policies" on funding the U.S. government are just awful.
  • Matt Yglesias says "Reihan Salam emailed to point out that Huckabee's quite young, and could very plausibly run again in 2012 if the Republicans lose in '08", but thinks that the GOP will have to endure utter defeat in order for Sam's Club Republicanism to gain hold. It's hard to say which way that would go. On the one hand, party unity does seem be the rule of the day. On the other hand, the Republican leadership has kicked the moderates around for so long that they may be ready to create some distance between the moderate and reactionary wings of the party. The Democratic Caucus today is much more ideologically unified than it was in 1994, so it will be harder to cleave away Blue Dogs to form a governing coalition. So I am not so sure that the no-compromise approach will win the day, especially if Dems can win five or six seats in the Senate.
  • The GOP bench for the 2012 Presidential race is paper thin. There are only eight pro-life governors with approval ratings over 50% (Crist, Perdue, Sanford, Riley, Kempthorne, Heineman, Rounds, and Hoeven); if we eliminate anyone who's ever tried to raise taxes, it shrinks to at most five (Crist, Sanford, Heineman, Rounds, Hoeven). Most of the Republican Senators are either old (Voinovich, Specter), pro-choice (Murkowski, Snowe), not particularly popular (Cornyn, Bond) or some flavor of kooky (Coburn, Inhofe). Those who are left (Thune, DeMint) don't have any legislation to their name at this point. No Bush Administration official, except maybe Tommy Thompson, has survived with a favorable reputation. So there may yet be space for Huckabee to run again next time around.

September 2, 2007 | Permalink

Comments

> The GOP bench for the 2012 Presidential
> race is paper thin.

I would be reasonably certain that Rove, Norquist & Associates' plan is to run a white knight candidate in 2012 on a dolstchosslegende platform. Who that is probably won't be clear until 2010 or even 2011, but it will be someone unexpected (Yglesias has proposed Petraeus; although I doubt that it is the kind of person we should be tracking).

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer | Sep 2, 2007 2:36:41 PM

Do you think that Huckabee is an appealing VP candidate to some of the frontrunners that lack the socially conservatives bona fides? I've heard Pawlenty's name thrown around a lot, but I think Huckabee could bring a lot of electoral capability to a romney or giuliani ticket.

Posted by: John | Sep 2, 2007 2:44:49 PM

socially conservative, economically moderate or even liberal on occasion

I think someone in the blogosphere once pointed out that the above described the early Klan; I know I've referenced the claim, but I can't remember where I saw it.

Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Sep 2, 2007 2:56:37 PM

I agree with Cranky, but I expect to see Petraeus himself built up for that role. He's a deeply political person.

Posted by: Elvis Elvisberg | Sep 2, 2007 3:15:15 PM

It's sort of bizarre that "Sam's Club Republicanism" would be the moniker of any sort of return to fiscal moderation or liberalism. Wal-Mart, which Sam's club is part of, is leading the rush to the bottom when it comes to economic policy. On healthcare alone, do you think that if there weren't any historic expectation that employers were supposed to provide coverage, that they'd give a damn about uninsured workers?

That said, it's heartening to see how quickly women's reproductive rights are thrown under the bus when we're discussing "conservatives we can live with." This is a non-trivial civil right you're talking about jettisoning. Let's be clear--in the 2002 election, 31% of women 18-44 voted. By the time they're 45, 33% of women will actually have HAD an abortion. You're suggesting women get rid of a right that they take advantage of in rates similar to voting.

Lots of women have abortions. Lots of women would have had abortions, but they get lucky and never needed one. Lots of women are more comfortable getting pregnant because they know that if their health were ever at risk, nobody could force them to risk death to continue the pregnancy. Lots of women who find themselves pregnant with a "surprise" baby are better able to accept the challenges of parenthood once the baby is born--instead of blaming the kid--because they know they didn't have to stay pregnant.

Women having access to abortions isn't just a necessary evil--it's a good thing, even if most women never have an abortion. It's like voting that way--most people don't do it, but it's good that they can. This is not a trivial right, and getting rid of it would have significant, far-reaching consequences, and not just for women.

Posted by: anonymous | Sep 2, 2007 3:24:36 PM

In addition, I'd much rather the GOP turn into the party of "Sam's Club Republicanism"—socially conservative, economically moderate or even liberal on occasion— than become the quasi-libertarian party (lower taxes and less regulation of sex), or the War Party.

And I would rather have seen a Soviet Communist Party run by Bukharin than by Stalin. Honestly, I'm about 6 years past the point where I care about the individual characteristics of whoever the GOP decides to put up as the front man for its campaign of plunder and rapine by warmongering plutocrats, except inasmuch as they create electoral weaknesses.

Posted by: brooksfoe | Sep 2, 2007 3:43:55 PM

Jeb Bush is a lock for the Republican nomination in 2012.

Posted by: Bruce Bartlett | Sep 2, 2007 3:48:24 PM

Cranky Observer: "I would be reasonably certain that Rove, Norquist & Associates' plan is to run a white knight candidate in 2012 on a dolstchosslegende platform."

The thing is, that will only work if the next Democratic President's administration is a disaster. The only reason the Vietnam dolstchosslegende got any purchase in the 1980s was Jimmy Carter's utter impotence on both the foreign and domestic policy fronts. He was unable to control inflation or unemployment, unable to get the hostages out of Iran, unable to keep the Soviets out of Afghanistan... Under his administration, it genuinely seemed like America was in decline and there was no end in sight. Let's face it, while Carter was and is a good man, he was a terrible President.

If our next President does a good job on foreign and domestic policy between 2008 and 2012, then a prosperous and happy America won't be in any mood to listen to stab-in-the-back tales about Iraq.

Posted by: Josh G. | Sep 2, 2007 3:49:46 PM

I'm not taking any satisfaction whatsoever in a guy like Huckabee being less than a monster. The GOP has become a political party that is not a potential partner for democratic governance in a constitutional checks and balances structure, and progressives should do all we can to push the current-version GOP into the trash heap of history.

The quicker a new party of the right/center or center/right emerges, the better off the US and the world will be. I don't see Huckabee as the herald of that new party. What are the keystones that we could feel comfortable with in a new opposition party?

- recognition that goverment means actual competent governance (a party that sees government as a evil thing that must be drowned overtly or by misgoverance does not qualify)

- recognition that taxes are not always evil and must not be cut on all available occasions (rough balance of income and outgo over the economic cycle is required)

- a willingness to govern in accord with the constitution, the laws and treaties, without using fear and civil rights restrictions at home and unilateral military interventions abroad as a routine means of action

- an attempt to govern for all citizens on the basis of equality without resort to wealth, race, gender, or religion as a means of maintaining a majority.

(supply your own additions - or modifications)

We had a center/right GOP party at one time led by able and honest politicians of the Eisenhower and Rockefeller ilk. The Goldwater swing to the right debacle and Nixon's southern strategy killed that old GOP. It had worked, sometimes as a single party and sometimes through bipartisanship (that the Broders of the world pine for).

There is a place for a party like that old GOP in our system again, but first the existing GOP must be completely discredited and broken down, along with the pitiful and dangerous leaders the post-Reagan GOP has brought. The pendulum must swing back toward the center (and probably needs to be pretty far left for a while). None of the GOP leadership, including Huckabee, Guliani, Romney, McCain can build that new party.

The phrase that rings in my mind is the phrase from classic conservative economics: 'creative destruction' that leads to new models and methods. That's what the GOP, the nation, and the world needs and deserves - a new vision of moderate conservatism that is appropriate to the 21st century.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Sep 2, 2007 4:30:32 PM

Jeb Bush is a lock for the Republican nomination in 2012.

You also claimed that Howard Dean would make a 3rd party run back in '04.

Posted by: Tyro | Sep 2, 2007 4:42:13 PM

> The thing is, that will only work if the next
> Democratic President's administration is a disaster.

Among the Republican Senators and their infinite ability to outmaneuver the Democratic Senate majority (plus Lieberman), the Bush Dog Democrats, and Fox News (and the unwillingness of the non-Fox media to deal with Foxification), I am starting to think that any 2009 Democratic administration will be a disaster.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer | Sep 2, 2007 4:44:14 PM

To respond to anonymous: I agree with you; the Court alone is a good reason to support the Democratic Presidential candidate in 2008.

Posted by: Nicholas Beaudrot | Sep 2, 2007 4:58:13 PM

"Among the Republican Senators and their infinite ability to outmaneuver the Democratic Senate majority (plus Lieberman), the Bush Dog Democrats, and Fox News (and the unwillingness of the non-Fox media to deal with Foxification), I am starting to think that any 2009 Democratic administration will be a disaster."

The current Congress has been really disappointing to me.

Posted by: Korha | Sep 2, 2007 6:27:14 PM

The one governor you skipped in your roundup for the GOP was Sarah Palin, who is actually the strongest candidate for the Republicans in 2012: pro-life, reformist, attractive, highly competent. She's got a bright future, and if Hillary wins in 2012, I wouldn't be surprised at all if the GOP put up Palin to try to grab back a few women voters.

Of course, the GOP will need desperately to do that if the Republicans wind up with a Giuliani/Franks ticket or some other uber-machismo combination.

Posted by: Lev | Sep 2, 2007 6:32:06 PM

Again, the reason why the Democrats should field our best candidate is that we should not, as many here seem to be doing, assume that the GOP will not field their best candidate. The fact is a lot of you seem to hoping against hope that they will no. However, what will happen in the GOP primary unlike in the past isn't a certainty. If anything, they are far more open than we are this time around as so many seem settled on having picked a nominee before a single vote has been cast.

Posted by: akaison | Sep 2, 2007 6:35:58 PM

Korha- the Congress has been disappointing to a lot of peo. This is another reason why this hubris is unsupported by reality. Over at mydd, I saw a post one day where someone was tauting a poll where as I remember the Congress was at 30 something percent, and the President or GOP was only 6 pts lower. Sure relatively speaking that sounds better, but in absolute terms the numbers were abysmal and not a cause for certainty regarding next years outcome.

Posted by: akaison | Sep 2, 2007 6:38:24 PM

I don't think I predicted that Dean would make a 3rd party run in 2004. What I think I said was that Dean could use the threat of making a 3rd party run, which would have guaranteed a Democratic defeat, as a way of forcing Democrats to vote for him in the primaries. If memory serves, this wasn't my idea anyway. I was just repeating an idea that was in circulation at a brief moment in time.

Posted by: Bruce Bartlett | Sep 2, 2007 7:01:51 PM

It's always disappointing when 51 turns out not to be 67.

Posted by: Sanpete | Sep 2, 2007 7:10:38 PM

By the way- this isn't also about how people here feel about Huckabee, but how he will be perceived by the American public.

Posted by: akaison | Sep 2, 2007 7:25:07 PM

The fair tax deal could be super progressive. All you gotta do is dial up the standard exemption/rebate part of it. It might not happen in practice, but I doubt it'd be worse than what we have now.

The fair tax people are all a bunch of nut jobs, but it could be a really great thing.

Smart progressives like Robert H Frank support progressive consumption taxation. You needn't be afraid of it. It's just one of those the devil is in the details kind of things.

Posted by: chris | Sep 2, 2007 8:01:00 PM


Supreme Court is already awfully reactionary as it is. The pro-Roe majority on the Supreme Court is currently 5-to-4, and the justices most likely to retire or both pro-Roe. To say nothing of the rulings like Ledbetter

The R theocratic base really wants to get rid of Griswold. Without that pesky penumbra that implies a right to privacy, we don't have a right to privacy. The Texas sodomy law would stand, as would a host of other laws inviting the government into our bedrooms. Griswold is the base on which Roe is built. And finally, if Griswold fails, red states can go back to denying access to any kind of contraception to unmarried women, returning us to the Moral Golden Age of 1950 when the possibility of bearing and raising a child out of wedlock was a club used to keep them round-heeled women in line.

The legal reasoning in Griswold is not all that unassailable, and this court doesn't seem to be much on stare decisis. One more judge, that's all it would take, I think.

Posted by: joel hanes | Sep 2, 2007 8:54:51 PM

Huckabee doubters ignore two things. (1) Charisma is very important to voters. And Huckabee has more charisma than any other Republican or Democrat. (2) Presidents can do very little to impact the economy, and these days whether a Democrat or Republican is in office makes only a small difference in terms of fiscal policy. On the other hand there are dramatic differences between the parties on social issues. And most Republican primary voters care much more about their candidates' views on social issues than on fiscal issues. The tight-pockets-loose-morals (fiscally conservative, socially liberal) wing of the Republican party is way overrepresented in the media and on these blogs, and has very little impact on elections.

Posted by: Bill | Sep 2, 2007 9:40:26 PM

if Griswold fails, red states can go back to denying access to any kind of contraception to unmarried women

I'm not a legal scholar, but it's my understanding that if Griswold fails, states can go back to denying access to any kind of contraception to women, married or unmarried. Griswold was, iirc, overturned because it violated the right to marital privacy.

And Griswold was in CONNECTICUT. It's not just red staters who have to worry.

Posted by: anonymous | Sep 2, 2007 11:42:55 PM

I was only surprised that it took so long for Huckabee to show up, given that he fits the criteria of James Bryce: he's a mediocre man who appears to have made no big enemies during his career.

Posted by: pseudonymous in nc | Sep 3, 2007 12:14:18 AM

I've asked this question before, but I haven't seen any answers to it: what happened to Mark Sanford? I saw and read Grover Norquist talking him up for 2008 a few years ago, and when I did a little research on him, he seemed like a great candidate for his party. I have no idea of what's going on in South Carolina politics, so perhaps I've missed something that was obvious to everyone there. Does anyone know anything?

But anyway, yes, the roster is absurdly thin. I don't see how it's going to change a lot between now and 2012.

Posted by: Brian | Sep 3, 2007 10:50:51 AM

The comments to this entry are closed.