The Corner

More from that Huckabee Interview

The former governor and presidential candidate also says:

The greatest threat to classic Republicanism is not liberalism; it’s this new brand of libertarianism, which is social liberalism and economic conservatism, but it’s a heartless, callous, soulless type of economic conservatism because it says “look, we want to cut taxes and eliminate government. If it means that elderly people don’t get their Medicare drugs, so be it. If it means little kids go without education and healthcare, so be it.” Well, that might be a quote pure economic conservative message, but it’s not an American message. It doesn’t fly. People aren’t going to buy that, because that’s not the way we are as a people. That’s not historic Republicanism. Historic Republicanism does not hate government; it’s just there to be as little of it as there can be. But they also recognize that government has to be paid for.

He goes on for a while in this vein. Huckabee is right, I think, to suggest that economic libertarianism is a political weakness of the Republican party–something I regret, although he evidently does not. But that truth is buried amid some mistakes. Plenty of Huckabee’s critics on size-of-government issues were, in truth, socially conservative; few of them wanted to “eliminate government”; and the elements of conservatism with which he takes issue are hardly “new.”

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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