Monday, August 13, 2007

# Posted 10:48 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

HUCKABEE: Both liberals and conservatives are saying that Mike Huckabee's surprising ability to win 18% of the vote at the Iowa straw poll is Very Big News. On the one hand, the straw poll is a ridiculous event where candidates buy tickets (at $35 a piece) to their supporters and provide free transportation. On the other hand, Noam Scheiber writes that:
Huckabee bought around 1800 tickets and received almost 2600 votes. Clearly, Romney and Brownback dropped a lot of cash on people who ended up voting for someone else, and that someone else was probably Huckabee.

What's not clear is whether these voters boarded Romney and Brownback buses intending to vote for the former Arkansas governor all along, or whether they simply came with an open mind--or even intending to vote for Romney or Brownback--before being converted...

Whatever the case, it's hard to overstate the significance of Huckabee's performance here.
Reporting from Iowa, Byron York told Meet the Press that:
As far as Huckabee is concerned, you know, it was a really, really big win for him. He was worried that he’s raised so little money that if he finished way down in the pack he might not be able to stay in the race. And his, his oratorical skills, he’s a former preacher, very strong. He’s the kind of guy that you listen to him speak on a few occasions and you wonder why he isn’t higher up in the race. So he—he’s made a huge step forward.
Scheiber agrees that Huckabee has charisma. He writes that Huckabee is:
a genuinely endearing guy who can banter with the best of them--watching him with reporters brings to mind the old black and white footage of Babe Ruth jawboning with sportswriters. When you add that to the political media's general affinity for underdogs, you can see how Huckabee's about to enjoy some serious media afterglow, which will only further boost his profile.
And if any of you saw Huckabee on the Daily Show back in January, you know he's one of the few Republicans who can get Jon Stewart to fawn all over him. In short, Huckabee has a surprising ability to charm both the center and the Republican base.

One of Huckabee few detractors is, well, me. When it comes to democracy promotion, Huckabee wants to run away fast from the current President's commitment to a generational struggle against tyranny. Here's what Huckabee told George Stephanopoulos at the GOP debate in Iowa on August 5:

STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to stay on this subject...the way I want to get into it is with a bit from President Bush’s second inaugural address, where he made the spreading of democracy the core of his foreign policy. Here’s what he said:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world. (END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor Huckabee, since then, since that speech, there have been free elections in Gaza; they elected Hamas. There have been free elections in Lebanon; they empowered Hezbollah. There have been free elections in Iran; they elected President Ahmadinejad. Has President Bush’s policy been a success? And would the spread of democracy be the core of your foreign policy?

[NB: Someone should tell Stephanopoulos that elections in Iran aren't exactly free when thousands of popular candidates are disqualified because they're too popular. As for Lebanon, the elections did even more to empower the Sunni-Christian coalition, which actually won the elections. In contrast, Hezbollah's popularity derives much more from killing Israelis. As for Hamas, we got what we deserved for thinking that democracy would reward the corrupt thugs of Fatah. Anyhow, I was trying to make a point about Huckabee's answer...]

HUCKABEE: Well, the problem is, George, sometimes when you get what you want, you don’t want what you get. And this is a great case of that happening. I don’t think it’s the job of the United States to export our form of government. It’s the job of the United States to protect our citizens, to secure our own borders, which we have failed to do for over 20 years. It’s the job of our government to make us free and us safe, and to create an enviable kind of government and system that everybody else will want, much in the same way I think we ended up seeing the fall of the Soviet Union. And as far as how do we get there...

STEPHANOPOULOS: So it wouldn’t be the core of your foreign policy?

HUCKABEE: Absolutely not, because I don’t think we can force people to accept our way of life, our way of government. What we can to is to create the strongest America: change our tax system, make it so that people are healthier, create the enviable education system on this planet, make sure that jobs come back to this country rather than disappear from this country.

I really can't stand it when opponents of democracy promotion bring out the old line about not exporting "our" way of life. Go ask the Brazilians, the Indians, and the Japanese if they think that democracy is inherently American. The funny thing is, our "way of life" is actually pretty popular abroad. Millions of Arabs love McDonalds and Starbucks and Star Wars and Baywatch -- while hating American foreign policy or even America itself.

There are more than enough valid criticisms out there of this administration's attempt to promote democracy in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere (and reluctance to do in Pakistan, etc.) Instead, Huckabee chose one that is short-sighted and wrong. However, it may serve him well as candidate, both in the primary and the general election.


(6) opinions -- Add your opinion

But here's the question: is Bush's commitment to democracy promotion promoting democratization? I can find very little evidence that Bush's policies have made the world significantly more democratic. Maybe some old-fashioned exemplarism might be in order...
Refreshingly, Huckabee says all the right things. "I don’t think it’s the job of the United States to export our form of government. It’s the job of the United States to protect our citizens, to secure our own borders, which we have failed to do for over 20 years," says Huckabee
Somewhat isolationist! What a pleasant approach.
huckabee does not believe in evolution,is going to do to help science education in this country IF he is elected?? already in many schools across the country evolution is not taught..if it goes on like this..US science eduction will be in hands of religious nuts and that is BAD

politics desk,the newsroom
You really underestimate the ideational component of this question, David.

People are simple; their beliefs are malleable, and easily formed. This causes problems for your well-intentioned 'struggle against tyranny'.

What your promote simply creates greater problems than it solves.
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