The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

A Poorly-Timed Criticism of Huckabee


The Huckabee campaign will play this for some deserved sympathy – as it arrived in my e-mailbox yesterday:

Huckabee on CEO Pay

You’ve probably seen Huckabee rail against CEO pay (if you haven’t, see here and here, but until now, Huckabee has not been clear about what exactly he would do about CEO pay if he were President. Yesterday, CNBC’s John Harwood asked Mike Huckabee just that.

HUCKABEE: It’s a combination. It’s when one person losing his job who helped make the company successful and the person who steers the company either into bankruptcy or selling off it in pieces is taking that golden parachute of several hundred million dollars. I mean, there’s just something wrong about that, and every American knows it, whether he’s at the top or bottom. What the government ought to do is, first of all, call attention to it, put some spotlight on it. I don’t think it’s about coming up with some new regulation. Corporate boards ought to show some responsibility. If a board allows that kind of thing to happen, shame on that board. And I would hope that it wouldn’t necessitate additional laws and regulation because usually when you get into regulation, it just gets worse and it makes it [an] even bigger problem than you had to begin with.

HARWOOD: So you wouldn’t actually do anything about it as the head of the government? You would simply use the pulpit to talk about it?

HUCKABEE: That would be the first line of maybe offense, perhaps John. And then what I would like to see is the corporate board showing responsibility with an understanding that if they don’t start showing some responsibility, then they’re going to end up forcing government to take action, which is the worst thing that could happen and it only exacerbates a problem rather than actually solves it.

Huckabee’s response is emblematic of his governing approach. He claims government is not the answer, but, at the end of the day, he is willing to use government to achieve the results he deems morally necessary. Notice also how Huckabee inoculates himself, arguing that he would be forced to impose government regulations because of inaction on the part of corporate boards. It is a clever political gambit that allows him to claim opposition to new regulations in principle, while he imposes them left and right because others are “forcing” him to do so.

Entirely separate from the merits of the criticism, did the Club for Growth really need to send this out on Christmas Day? Was this some runaway automatic e-mail distribution system? Was there any reason this couldn’t come out this morning, the 26th?

This plays directly into Huckabee’s hands – “my critics are secular elitists who don’t understand what is important to Christians, much less that Christmas Day is probably the worst day of the year to send out political attacks…”

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Fred Thompson , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mike Huckabee , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson


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