Lots and lots of reaction to my earlier Huckabee post. Here are few of them:
I am also a longtime evangelical fan of yours and NRO’s and I am very excited to be on the cusp of actually seeing and holding and reading your tome. I have a great deal of antipathy for Huckabee and it has nothing to do with fear of his “post-conservatism.” It has to do with his lack of conservatism at all.
I lived in Arkansas for more than a year recently and I paid Arkansas’ income tax, real property tax, property tax on my car, and most pernicious of all its sales tax that extended to my groceries. Huckabee was the governor there for two terms and not only were none of these taxes rolled back, they were instead increased. More of that kind of bipartisanship between a Republican executive and a Democratic legislature we do not need.
“But, in the process great violence would be done to the principle of limited government and liberty and — I hope — conservatives would be on the sidelines, once again, standing athwart history yelling “Stop” to anyone who might have ears to hear. “
Right now my money would be on Huckabee being the next POTUS. He’s got the “Aw Shucks” charm of Clinton and the evangelistic fervor of George Bush. I think he’s also from the same Christian denomination as Jimmy Carter. Why does anybody think he doesn’t have a chance against a Mormon and a Catholic adulterer, or Hillary Clinton?
Speaking as an ex-evangelical he sounds like the Antichrist to me but I don’t think I’ll be doing any yelling about it. I’m too hoarse from eight years of Bush. I’ll just leave the Ron Paul bumper sticker on my car as an “I told you so” just in case anybody cares about liberty and limited government any more.
And this reader says I was too kind by a wide margin, which is probably right (I plead guilty to liking the original emailer):
Jonah, I’m shocked at your response to your reader:
“And with that — and a few other caveats I might offer but won’t here — let me say, basically: Yeah.”
The “that” being simply that he overstated the anti-sovietness of conservatism.
Are you kidding? “Yeah”? I enjoy your writing very much, and I enjoy your show with Peter when I can, but this to me seems to come out of nowhere. You didn’t clear nearly enough brush. I’m also shocked that someone who has been a fan of your for so long can be so confused.
Firstly, it seems to me that your reader is getting the cart way, way, way before the horse. Conservatives are definitely not capitalist (etc) because the Soviets were socialist (etc). Saying so amounts to calling conservatives reactionary jingoists. Conservatives are capitalist because it’s the only economic system proven to work and still respect the rights and freedoms of the individual. This was understood long before the Soviet Union ever had any impact on the Russians, much less anyone else. I’m obviously not as well read as you or any number of other folks, but it seems to me to be plainly obvious that the first principles of conservatism were mostly settled long before the Soviets came along. Our aversion to their way of life was borne of those first principles, not the other way around. Similarly, we are “pro-religion” because we are religious. We are religious because our parents were religious, ad nauseum – which also has nothing to do with the Soviets.
These first principles were refined and battle hardened in the last century because suddenly we had a real-life, open enemy of those ideas.
Your reader is totally incoherent about what he calls “post-conservatism”:
Its suspicions of big-government are weakened but its adherence to traditional morality is strengthened.
What the hell is he even talking about? Suspicion of government is our legitimate response to state encroachment precisely because it is well-woven into our cultural heritage and political history that a moral people are more capable of living freely and independently without government meddling. If our adherence to traditional morality was strengthened by a Huckabist, we should thus have even MORE suspicion of government, not less. Instead, I think it more likely that a Huckabist wants more government to do “good” things because it allows him to feel good about his morality without actually having to be responsible for his morality. Nevermind the disasterous consequences for the individualism that the American experiement has proven to be so effective in every way that matters. Further, he does us all a horrific disservice by simply asserting that religion (specifically Christianity) and morality are orthogonal. One could (and I’m sure some have) write dissertations on that subject alone. Suffice it to say that in the American context, they certainly cannot be treated as orthogonal in practice.
He then says:
Does a politician informed by his Christianity take a chance of trying to build the Kingdom of Heaven “in earth as it is in heaven”? This would be a violation of the 2nd commandment.
Wow. For a guy who knows the phrase “immanitizing the eschaton [sic]“, he sure doesn’t know his eschatology. Again: what the hell is he talking about? Don’t even get me started on Obama with his “…build *A* kingdom…” (emphasis mine).
There is even more brush left to sweep away, but you’re the one that makes a living on that sort of thing. Let me conclude with this: what that reader posted, if even remotely speaks to what Huckabee thinks about his own philosophy, as it were, makes me twice as hostile to Huckabee than ever before.
Update: A reader responds to the first post:
I agree 100% with this poster. I am a “hard line” evangelical in the most conservative, bible-believing church in the region, and Mike Huckabee is an absolute non-starter. I don’t have a favorite yet—waffle among Giuliani, Romney, and Fred—but Mike Huckabee fails the essential test. He’s not a conservative. Period, end of story. Sure, he is good on abortion and other core “religious” issues. But he seems to lack the general conservative instinct to keep government out of people’s lives to the degree possible. Surely government should interpose itself between two persons when one is trying to harm the other. But government should generally let people harm themselves (with limited exceptions for the mentally incompetent, children etc.)—with the necessary corollary that you live with the consequences of your own decisions (good or bad). The danger of the Huck-ster is that he’s going to help you help yourself—to save you from your own “bad” decisions. Well if I want to smoke and I know it’ll probably kill me, that’s my problem. Huck thinks it’s his problem, and that’s emblematic of why he is a non-starter with true conservatives.