Huckabee and the Vagueness Strategy

In classic Larisonian style, Daniel takes a stiletto to David Brooks contention that Mike Huckabee “is the one candidate acceptable to all factions.”

Except the economic conservatives, restrictionists, libertarians and conservative opponents of the war. Other than that, he’s golden.

Now, this is why I enjoy Daniel’s writing: this is pithy, sharp, and there’s some truth to this. But let’s slow down for a moment. Huckabee has

(a) backed the FairTax, which I understand to be a favorite cause of at least some self-described economic conservatives and libertarians

(b) pointedly called for greater humility in the conduct of foreign policy, harkening back to the Bush of 2000 while making an implicit critique of the Bush of 2007, thus presumably appealing to some conservative opponents of the war

and, though he clearly backed a “comprehensive” immigration reform, Huckabee has

© backed tough enforcement measures and raised questions about international trade that might resonate with restrictionists.

So really, I don’t think this is quite as simple as Daniel makes it out to be. I should stress that almost all of the points above give me pause. I think the FairTax is a good political idea and a bad policy idea. As a proponent of the evolving “open-source counter-insurgency,” I tend to think humility has its limits. And though I think we should rethink certain aspects of our trade policy, I’m a firm supporter of free trade.

But it’s also true that Huckabee’s policy profile is appealingly chameleon-like: were he to achieve greater success, its easy to imagine Republican primary voters of all stripes projecting their preferred views onto him. Which is not a bad place to be given his place in the race.

Note also that Brooks raised these red flags in his column, which was more detailed, and more persuasive, than that brief excerpt allowed.