Jonah Goldberg writes an unexpected and effective defense of Ron Paul while succinctly explaining the essential problem with Mike Huckabee:
Let’s even say that Paul has the passionate support of the Legion of Doom, that his campaign lunchroom looks like the “Star Wars” cantina, and that many of his top advisors actually have hooves.
Well, I would still find him less scary than Mike Huckabee.
One is a culturally conservative libertarian. The other is a right-wing progressive. Whatever the faults of the man and his friends may or may not be, Paul’s dogma generally renders them irrelevant. He is a true ideologue in that his personal preferences are secondary to his philosophical principles. When asked what his position is, he generally responds that his position can be deduced from the text of the Constitution. Of course, that’s not as dispositive as he thinks it is. But you get the point.
As for Huckabee — as with most politicians, alas — his personal preferences matter enormously because ultimately they’re the only thing that can be relied on to constrain him. In this respect, Huckabee’s philosophy is conventionally liberal, or progressive. What he wants to do with government certainly differs in important respects from what Hillary Clinton would do, but the limits he would place on governmental do-goodery are primarily tactical or practical, not philosophical or constitutional.
This is the most important aspect of libertarian philosophy. Even if you seriously disagree with another libertarian, you can support him without reserve, since he is committed to not using the power of the state to compel you. Huckabee offers nothing more than a repeat of the George W. Bush fiasco. Jonah’s electoral analysis is inaccurate; it’s thrown off by his underlying belief that support for the occupations is somehow a vote-winner, but his reasoning here is sound.
UPDATE – Bob Novak also concludes that Huckabee is no conservative, but rather an advocate of strong, intrusive government cut from the Bush the Younger mode:
Huckabee is campaigning as a conservative, but serious Republicans know that he is a high-tax, protectionist advocate of big government and a strong hand in the Oval Office directing the lives of Americans…. Quin Hillyer, a former Arkansas journalist writing in the conservative American Spectator, called Huckabee “a guy with a thin skin, a nasty vindictive streak.” Huckabee’s retort was to attack Hillyer’s journalistic procedures, fitting a mean-spirited image when he responds to conservative criticism.
All I need to know is that the guy supports smoking bans. If you seriously advocate that sort of idiocy, you’ve obviously got an anything-goes attitude towards government rule. I wonder how long it will take Joe Carter to see through the Huckster and drop him?