But as Huckabee now mounts his closing argument for the Iowa caucuses, he has moved full bore into the rhetoric of economic populism. “I am out to change the Republican Party. It needs changing. It needs to be inclusive of all those people across America for whom this party should stand,” he said Sunday, on CBS’s Face The Nation. On the trail, he speaks regularly of challenging the “Washington to Wall Street power axis.” He frankly acknowledges the suffering of the stagnating middle class, and even offers up government as a part of the solution. “The President ought to be aware that the people struggle,” he said in Muscatine on Friday morning. “He ought to be aware every time a decision is made -whether [or not] it’s to raise taxes -how it’s going to hurt the family out there, who can barely pay the grocery bill as it is.”
At some of these events, if you close your eyes, you would think a Democrat was speaking -Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton turned southern Baptist.
The GOP does not need “changing.” It needs reminding and it needs energy in its new leader. It needs to recommit to its traditional stand against excessive spending and the growth of government. It needs to affirm its belief in victory in the war and to the nomination and confirmation of originalist judges. It needs to endorse extension of President Bush’s tax cuts and elimination of the death tax. It needs to argue for the rights of the unborn and the protection of those least able to protect themselves.
It needs a spokesman for its beliefs and for its traditional agenda which wins when it is embraced and defended.
What the GOP definitely does not need is neopopulism, class warfare, and identity politics of the sort Mike Huckabee has been selling the last four weeks. Huckabee’s lunge left may not have been premeditated, but it clearly displayed a candidate with no anchor in the GOP’s tradition of fiscal restraint, free trade and low taxes and a very limited understanding of the world’s most dangerous forces.
Don’t be surprised if Mike Huckabee fails to finish in the top three anywhere other than Iowa. He’s a very affable, likeable fellow with a genuine commitment to the life issue, but his fractured ideology is shared by very, very few Republicans, and his understanding of the rogue states, especially Iran, is questionable. As actual voting approaches, GOP regulars have to ask themselves who can beat either Senator Clinton or Senator Obama. Mike Huckabee will never rally the GOP base to his standard given his populist rhetoric –the sort of nonsense that President Bush and every GOP nominee since Reagan has blasted away at.