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Huck, Compassionate Conservative


Joe Knippenberg has a long, thoughtful, post partly discussing Huckabee’s status as a compassionate conservative. I have a whole piece on the subject in the latest issue. Here’s the opener for those interested:

One of my favorite movie scenes is from Jaws 2, when Roy Scheider (an underrated actor) is trying to convince the town council that he’s spotted yet another shark lurking off the waters of Amity. “But I’m telling you, and I’m telling everybody at this table, that that’s a shark. And I know what a shark looks like, because I’ve seen one up close. And you’d better do something about this one, because I don’t intend to go through that hell again!”

If you’re wondering why some of us have become so vexed by the sightings of Mike Huckabee’s dorsal fin above the choppy waters of Iowa-caucus polling and even out in the high sea of national polls, poor Chief Brody’s panic might help you understand. We’ve seen this before.

Now, some “Huckabashers” have an interest in slapping down Huckabee because he’s a threat to their preferred candidates. But for many of us, Huckaphobia is sincere and disinterested. We feel a bit like Lloyd Bochner’s assistant in that Twilight Zone episode “To Serve Man” — the one where Bochner walks into an interstellar stewpot while carrying an alien tome because he doesn’t hear his assistant shouting, “It’s a cookbook!” Now we’re shouting, “It’s a compassionate conservative!” — and wondering if voters will hear us in time.

I should probably capitalize those words, because I have no problem — nor can I imagine anyone who does — with a conservative’s feeling compassion for the unfortunate, the injured, the infirm, the victimized, the lost puppies, and the birds with broken wings. No, I’m talking about big-“C” Compassionate Conservatism, which in some parts also goes by the name “heroic conservatism.”


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