Thanks to an entry on the evangelical outpost I’m beginning to understand the phenomenal appeal of one Mike Huckabee.

The post doesn’t address the Huckabee phenomenon per se; it’s a refutation of the commentariat’s conventional wisdom that the Republican base is made up of three separate, non-overlapping groups: social conservatives, economic conservatives, and defense conservatives.

Joe Carter, the evangelical in the evangelical outpost, makes the argument that these groups overlap quite a bit, and that, more often than not, a person who votes Republican is conservative in all three areas and equally passionate about all three. This “full-spectrum conservative,” as he calls it, is the real backbone of the Republican party.

I don’t dispute that at all; it’s pretty much right on the money. But agreement makes for boring blog posts, so let’s not dwell on that. What grabbed me were some of Carter’s defenses of Mike Huckabee as the real full-spectrum conservative in the race.

A prime example of how “economic conservatives” are out of touch with the Reagan conservatives is the issue of executive compensation for poorly managed companies. On CNBC Governor Mike Huckabee expressed his disgust for corporate boards that award CEOs with $200 million bonuses while the workers are taking 40% pay cuts. As the Governor made clear he didn’t think the federal government should take action. His only point was merely that as a conservative he would use the bully pulpit to speak out against such outrageous behavior.

I think that one thing you have to assume about political candidates is that if that say something is disgusting, they’re liable to do something about it. If you’re not going to judge what a president will do based on what he says, then stop making me listen to those flippin’ state of the union addresses every year. And if a politician tries–or threatens–to mess with how people get paid in the private sector, you can no longer call that politician conservative. The fact that Carter denies this (and not only denies it, but later expresses shock that Glenn Reynolds called Huckabee’s statement “populist”) makes me think that Huckabee supporters might be trying to squeeze a square peg into a round hole.

So, I’m starting to think that conservative Christian support for Huckabee is based on something other than the issues.

Remember The Passion of the Christ, that movie about Jesus that caused such a ruckus a couple of years ago? If you recall, people got really worked up about it, both in good ways and bad. This was odd behavior, because it wasn’t the first movie based on the Bible story of Jesus, and I don’t think The Greatest Story Ever Told or Jesus Christ, Superstar had people running and screaming in the streets months before it was released.

What was different about The Passion was that it was made by somebody who took the story seriously. Say what you will about Mel Gibson, he genuinely believed in the transformative power of the story of Christ in a way that you never see in Hollywood. That made believers rally to him, and it made non-believers terrified of him.

I think evangelicals rally to Huckabee for the same reason. He speaks with authority and genuine conviction about the things that Christians care about the most. So, they will let a lot of stuff slide in order to support a guy who shares their beliefs. Heck, I want to root for the guy, and I’m as terrified of him actually winning the presidency as I am of anybody save John Edwards. Because, Christianity aside, he really is a populist.

Update: Holy crap, this got an Instapundit link. Well, thank you very much.


  1. Evil Neocon

    Huckabee is NOT a social conservative. It is all well and good to say God forgives all. But that does not mean the Law should. Huckabee’s pardons led to rapes and murders. He has no business holding public office since he lacks elemental judgment.

    Huckabee is not a defense conservative. He plans an “apology” for Iraq and Afghanistan, and apologized for the assassination of Bhutto. That had nothing to do with America.

    Huckabee is nothing but “the Return of Jimmy Carter” and his backers are fools to vote for him. But then some people are fools and give Benny Hinn money.

  2. charlie

    Who is it that is making you listen to State of the Union speeches? You say you want to judge a politician by what he says. Well, he SAYS he’s disgusted with corporate boards and he SAYS that the federal government shouldn’t take action. Maybe he means what he SAYS.

  3. Dale

    As a conservative evangelical I’m afraid of these people becoming president: any democrat with the exception of Lieberman (yeah, he’s an independent but you know what I mean,) Huckabee…. well, thats the list. He ranks right above all of the Democrats and at the very bottom of all Republicans. If he gets the nomination I might seriously consider sitting this election out. I don’t think I can vote for him in good conscience.

    Oh, and I stopped reading Joe Carter’s site when he became a shill for Huck. There is something unctuous about his affinity for Huck. I can’t quite place my finger on it but it give me the heeby-jeebies.

  4. Anonymous

    I liked Huck for a little while, but then he apologized for the assassination of Bhutto as mentioned above, and did his Brer Rabbit thing about Iran. Whoa! Is that what passes for thought in his campaign? He is as dumb clueless and dangerous as Jimmy Carter, who truly is the Father of the Islamic Revolution.

    He also steals the points of others at the debate, such Romney’s discussion of the IslamoNutter’s desire to create a new caliphate of the entire world. I’m not convinced he’d ever even bumped into the idea until Romney brought it up, but then he tried to pass it off as his argument. He did this with one of Rudy’s points, as well.

    Let’s look at our success with Baptist presidents. Hmmm…Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton. Need I say more?

  5. I agree, well put: Jimmy Carter reborn as a republican.

    some of my evangelical friends seem willfully blind to his positions …
    “what? no he’s not a populist. No I listened to the debates and he’s a real conservative …”

    Are we all listening the the same guy? Because I hear someone that seems proud of expanding government spending as governor, proud of new scholarship programs for illegals, someone disgusted with a militaristic foreign policy, disgusted with “unbridled” capitalism and desirous of more dialog and diplomacy in our international affairs. Color me unimpressed.

  6. Anonymous

    Whether you like him or not, Huckabee is probably going the distance.
    We will be surprised at how diverse his base really is. It is not as narrow as it is being portrayed, and when he gets the nomination, many will wonder from whence all the support came.
    I was complaining to the Lord about Huckabee after Iowa, and he gave me insight by comparing him to Samson. He showed me that I really would not have liked Samson either. But he was the Lord’s choice to deliver ancient Israel.
    So, if Huckabee does go the distance, remember that he may be our Samson, but I suspect that he won’t be tying any foxes’ tails together in this day and age.

  7. Frank B

    Don’t you find any irony in the fact that the auther of the book: “An Army of Davids” is calling Huckabee a “populist”? If this were second grade, I’d suggest Huchabee respond with: ‘I know you are, but what am I?’

    No…I’m not a Huckster. I’m leaning toward Fred. But when it comes down to it, I’m voting R in the general. I couldn’t dream of voting for Hillary or any of the man-children she’s running against over on the other side.

  8. We will be surprised at how diverse his base really is.

    I’ve heard that line before, it has been a while. Let me think. Oh, yeah.

    Alan Keyes vs Obama. Illinois ‘004.

    That worked out well. Really well. 70% to 30% I believe. Not in Keyes favor. Bush did better. Much better. And still lost Illinois.

  9. Anonymous

    If he goes the distance (Romans 13 and all that), he will be our Samson. Sorry I wasn’t clear.

    The Lord may only have been correcting my whine by doing the Samson comparison, rather than indicating that Huckabee would be the next prez, though I wouldn’t be surprised if he is.

    You can guess from the fact that I was whining, that I don’t have an “I Like Mike” bumper sticker on my vehicle. But the Samson reminder has given me pause to reflect on the fact that people the Lord intends to use for good, often come wrapped up in a mixed bag of humanity.

    And think, ancient Israel didn’t even get a vote on whether Samson would be one of their deliverers.

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