December 10, 2008

Mike Huckabee the face of conservatism?

I think he wants to be that. Last night, he was on the Daily Show and had a spirited two-part exchange with Jon Stewart. During the first part, they discussed the conservative philosophy toward government, with Huckabee suggesting that conservatives need to stress "good government" (true) and less government. His "less" part, however was problematic as he suggested that less government is only possible if people are willing to self-govern and do the right thing. But his own experience from Arkansas, he admitted, was the good people wanting all those bureaus and agencies to keep the bad people in line. In other words, the good people are already trying to do the right thing, so less government can only occur if the bad people also try. Which seems contradictory. Circular, even.

The second half centered on gay marriage. Jon handled the entire interview very well and pointed out the real flaws in Huckabee's argument. The most annoying for me, was Huckabee's assertion that marriage as we know it now, is what marriage has been for 5,000 years. Disagree with gay marriage all you want, but arguing that marriage has been some static institution is simply ignorant. As Jon pointed out, you go back 5,000 years and you have polygamous marriages as the norm. Marriage is not a religious rite until a 1000 years into the common era, and in that entire time you have a lot of marriage that is about economics, property, slavery, and other variations where individual parties had no choice in the matter. Pretending that marriage has been one thing is the worst possible argument against gay marriage.

If Huckabee is the face, I see the right getting more socially conservative and moving farther right. Not good, in my mind, for either the GOP or the country as a whole.


John Wayne said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
steves said...

Prop 8 in California shows us that gay marriage is still something that a majority of people, for whatever reason, are not completely comfortable with. If I had to make a prediction, I would say that most people will be more comfortable with it some time in the future and gay marriage bans will go the same route as bans on interracial marriage that existed in some states up until the 1960's.

I know this is probably of little comfort to the gay couples that want to get married now.

Streak said...

Steve, I agree. No doubt that the American people are not quite there, but the tide is shifting.

I sure wish I could figure out how to solve this troll problem.

leighton said...

Well, there are a few ways to get rid of Biblically illiterate anonymous posters who don't know that Jacob's two concurrent wives and their two "handmaids" gave birth to the twelve patriarchs of the twelve tribes of Israel, which was hardly a resounding rebuke either of polygamy, or of fucking your wives' servants to have them bear you children. (I wonder if the wingnut crowd would have been as up in arms about Clinton's indiscretions if Lewinsky were under Hillary's supervision rather than his. Probably so.)

First is to close off anonymous comments for a couple of weeks until "Gary" finds some other liberal blog to take regular dumps on. Second is to enable moderation, though this would be a lot of work. Third is to delete his comments whenever he posts.

LB said...

One interesting thing about Mike Huckabee is that he has two very different support groups.

The first are the social conservatives.

The second are those who support the FairTax. In the Republican primary, he was the biggest advocate of the FairTax and that certainly garned him a lot of support.

If Huckabee were to run 2012 for PResident (he probably will) and carry the GOP nomination (who knows) it would be interesting to see whether the first or second group was his bigger support group.

Streak said...

Thanks, Leighton. I think I will just delete these vapid comments. I don't like closing them off, and moderation is a pain.

LB, I guess I missed Huckabee's FairTax part, though now that you mention it, I do remember something about it. Those are not necessarily the same support groups, are they? Though there is undoubtedly overlap.

Frankly, I just don't buy the FairTax stuff. I appreciate the concept--to make taxes more fair, and I certainly think there is always room for reform (for example, I do agree that small businesses have a tough time), but just don't think that is the way to go. Isn't that Boortz' baby? Hardly a credible reformer.

But ultimately, I think that Huckabee is just a more well-spoken and quicker version of the last couple of Republican leaders. His policy suggestions strike me as paper thin and contradictory.

Bootleg Blogger said...

Streak- I wouldn't describe Huckabee's explanation of the virtues of less government as "more well spoken" than his predecessors. I'm a little tired of less government being the default conservative position and more government being the default liberal one. I thought Jon seemed a little more reactive and less thoughtful than he's capable of. More or Less government is so generalized it doesn't make any sense anyway, especially after the last 8 years of supposedly conservative dominance- you can argue ad nauseam without making any commitment whatsoever. The military is government. If I am for less military spending does that make me conservative or a liberal for less government? If I'm for billions of dollars in earmarks to my Alaskan constituency does that make me liberal or a conservative for more government spending? I'm confused. The discussion should be more about what government should/shouldn't provide or is/isn't capable of providing and what is reasonable cost. We hear very little credible discussion of programs and policies and their cost/benefit. Meaningless rhetoric like Huckabee's gets tossed around while the sacred cows are shitting all over everything!

leighton said...

BB, good point. In dealing with government agencies that handle immigration, their inefficiency is legendary, but the problem isn't incompetence or a bad system (except for some legislative and executive policies)--mostly it's a lack of funding. A 10-20% budget increase for smallish agencies would cut down on the adjudication time and backlog immeasurably. By contrast, NASA employees routinely complain of the ridiculous bloating in the government's business of supervising its contractors. So what we have, in the real world, is a government that is too small in places, and too big in others. Big vs small government is a nonissue hobby-horse for people who are too lazy to pay attention to the actual details of governing.

steves said...

No doubt that the American people are not quite there, but the tide is shifting.

I don't think the judicial route is the best way to go. Personally, I think the State should only recognize civil unions between two adults. People would be free to go above and beyond that and get married in some type of religious ceremony, but the religious side would be separate from what the state requires.

BB raises a good point. It is pointless to discuss more or less government without mentioning specifics. My own experience working in the public mental health system has made me somewhat skeptical of some regulations. We were burdened with so many state and federal regulations that close to 50% of out work time was taken up with compliance issues and paperwork. While some of this is needed, much of it cut into time that we could use to serve clients.

We hear very little credible discussion of programs and policies and their cost/benefit.

We tend to fund many programs without studying them beforehand. Once they are funded, we then continue to fund them without some kind of decent outcome measures.

Streak said...

All due respect to BB, but I don't think this point is any different than we have argued here before, and Jon Stewart was responding, I think, to the simplicity of Huckabee. Not that he needs defending, but I am pretty sure that he would absolutely agree, and in fact, he came very close to arguing that very same point about the military and big government. Also, when I said well-spoken, I didn't mean that Huckabee had any depth to his arguments or explanations of policy. He is, however, better spoken than Bush or Palin in that he speaks in complete sentences and can think on his feet (with the context of a quip or comeback).

Steve, who was talking about the judicial route here? I simply said that the polls and even the votes on gay marriage show that those opposing it are losing ground. Slowly, perhaps, but losing ground. The argument about the society coming undone if my gay friends marry is so clearly not true that the more that is not true, the less the conservative fear of gay marriage works.

steves said...

Steve, who was talking about the judicial route here?

No one here. I was talking about what has happened in some states in regards to suing.

LB said...

Just curious why you don't like the FairTax? It seems like a goof plan to me.

Streak said...

I think replacing our current tax system with a national sales tax is a bad idea. I understand the sentiment, but think that it simply won't work. The data I have seen suggests that the 23% tax suggested by Huckabee will not provide enough revenue, and will have to be raised substantially.

Not only that, but it disproportionately helps the rich who spend a much smaller percentage of their worth buying stuff--and they can easily buy their valuable stuff somewhere else.

Finally, I don't know what this would do to local governments and communities. Where would they get their revenue? Would they tack on an additional 8 or 10 percent on top of a national sales tax?

There is a lot of insanity in our current system, but there is also a bit of wisdom in spreading around the kinds of taxes, it seems to me. Limiting all taxes to one form seems like a monumentally bad idea.

Bootleg Blogger said...

Streak- So all of a sudden I'm getting respect?:-). I think Jon did a good job, but I think he's gone for the jugular on guys like Huckabee before or more effectively than that particular night, but, heh, everyone has an off night. I'm probably guilty of hoping he'd be more ruthless which wouldn't necessarily be a good thing.

Your post has prompted some research on the fed sales tax proposal. Here's an interesting site: I haven't read enough to understand it- not sure that will ever happen.

John Lofton, Recovering Republican said...

Forget "conservatism," please. It has been Godless and therefore irrelevant. Secular conservatism will not defeat secular liberalism because to God both are two atheistic peas-in-a-pod and thus predestined to failure. As Stonewall Jackson's Chief of Staff R.L. Dabney said of such a humanistic belief more than 100 years ago:

"[Secular conservatism] is a party which never conserves anything. Its history has been that it demurs to each aggression of the progressive party, and aims to save its credit by a respectable amount of growling, but always acquiesces at last in the innovation. What was the resisted novelty of yesterday is today .one of the accepted principles of conservatism; it is now conservative only in affecting to resist the next innovation, which will tomorrow be forced upon its timidity and will be succeeded by some third revolution; to be denounced and then adopted in its turn. American conservatism is merely the shadow that follows Radicalism as it moves forward towards perdition. It remains behind it, but never retards it, and always advances near its leader. This pretended salt bath utterly lost its savor: wherewith shall it be salted? Its impotency is not hard, indeed, to explain. It .is worthless because it is the conservatism of expediency only, and not of sturdy principle. It intends to risk nothing serious for the sake of the truth."

Our country is collapsing because we have turned our back on God (Psalm 9:17) and refused to kiss His Son (Psalm 2).

John Lofton, Editor,
Recovering Republican

Streak said...

Oh good god. The problem with conservatism is that it isn't godly enough?


I sure love quotes from someone following Stonewall Jackson around. I wonder if this same person (criticizing secular conservatism) had any problem with Stonewall's massacres in the Mexican war.

But I forget, brutality and war crimes are not a problem for the Christian conservative. It isn't wrong if we do it.

John Lofton, Recovering Republican said...

We have Godless government now. How do you like it?

John Lofton, Editor,
Recovering Republican

Streak said...

As opposed to what?

I am absolutely fine with a secular government as designed by our founders. But I would love to hear when we had a Godly government.