Is Obama Jimmy Carter or is Huckabee?

National Review has a Rich Lowry article asking if Obama is this generation’s Jimmy Carter (an article available in its entirety to subscribers only). Here’s how Lowry describes Jimmy Carter, circa 1976:

Carter wasn’t really in the McCarthy-Hart-Bradley mold. He ran a conservative, or at least an ideologically indistinct, race in the 1976 Democratic primaries. He was cagey about his abortion views, but basically pro-life; relatively conservative on economics; and somewhat supportive of right-to-work laws. (As all the qualifiers suggest, he was hard to pin down on anything). Liberals distrusted him just because he was a southerner. He vied for the George Wallace vote and benefited from four major candidates — Morris Udall, Birch Bayh, Fred Harris, and Sargent Shriver — dividing liberal support.

The article goes on to track his similarities with Obama, such as the unexpected nature of his candidacy and the limited power of his experience.

Actually, I was thinking yesterday, after reading Robert Novak’s take-down of Mike Huckabee, that it is Huckabee who is the Carter of 2008, and that despite the fact that Huckabee is running as a Republican, not a Democrat. Here, in releveant part, is what Novak had to say about Huckabee’s decidedly unconservative tendencies:

There is no doubt about Huckabee’s record during a decade in Little Rock as governor. He was regarded by fellow Republican governors as a compulsive tax increaser and spender. He increased the Arkansas tax burden by 47 percent, boosting the levies on gasoline and cigarettes. When he decided to lose 100 pounds and pressed his new lifestyle on the American people, he was far from a Goldwater-Reagan libertarian.

As a presidential candidate, Huckabee has sought to counteract his reputation as a taxer by pressing for replacement of the income tax with a sales tax and has more recently signed the no-tax-increase pledge of Americans for Tax Reform. But Huckabee simply does not fit in normal boundaries of economic conservatism, as when he criticized President Bush’s veto of a Democratic expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Calling global warming a “moral issue” mandating “a biblical duty” to prevent climate change, he has endorsed the cap-and-trade system that is anathema to the free market.

In other words, like Carter, Huckabee is a Southern governor; like Carter, he is a devout Southern Baptist, so like Carter, he is the butt of media sneering about his religious and moral outlook; and, most significantly, like Carter, he believes in big, big government.

I’m pretty sure that Huckabee is a better man than Carter (and, on the moral trajectory Carter’s taken in the two decades, he could hardly be worse).  I like his wit and I like his support for Israel.  I bet I’d really enjoy spending time talking to the man.  I’m also not too troubled by his lack of Ivy League credentials, since I think we’re tending towards a fearsome elitism if we begin to expect Ivy League degrees from all future presidents.  But do remember that Carter’s religiosity did not stop him from embarking on a tax and spend governance that led to one of the saggiest, flabbiest economies America has suffered through.  Nor did people take well to being preached at by the White House for their own good.  It’s no coincidence that many people, myself included, consider him the worst President, if not ever, then at least of the modern era.  It’s also no coincidence that it was Carter’s successor, the supply side, ebullient Ronald Reagan who captured America’s hearts and minds.  And even if Huckabee isn’t Carter, he’s also definitely no Reagan.

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  • Danny Lemieux

    I knew that there was something about Huckabee that bothered me…a Republican Jimmy Carter. That’s truly something to worry about.

  • Ellie

    There was a call in to the Sean Hannity show recently from a conservative woman who didn’t like any GOP candidate. Sean went through them all and the caller cited her objections to each one.

    When Sean got to Rev Mike, the lady paused and then said simply “I’m from Arkansas. We Arkansans don’t care much for Huckabee.” Sean was speechless and never — to my amazement — asked “why not?”

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  • http://benningswritingpad.blogspot.com benning

    Huckabee is probably the least electable of the major Republican candidates. His Big government love affair will be enough to do him in come Convention time.

    Fred’s the one for me!

  • Mike Devx

    There is no obvious comparison between Gov. Huckabee and Dhimmi Carter.

    Dhimmi Carter utterly excuses all Palestinian violence in the face of Israeli commitment to sovereignty. Dhimmi Carter has excused all violence with the excuse that they are oppressed.

    I would love to hear Hckabee’s explanation of bombs falling at random on Israeli communities and Israeli schools. Could he EVER have as hopeless and worthless a terrorist excuse as Mr. Dhimmi Carter?

  • http://bookwormroom.wordpress.com/ Bookworm

    Everyone — I do believe that Huckabee is the much better man than Carter, but I also am concerned that his approach to politics is identical to Carter’s, and that his religious beliefs don’t change that, just as Carter’s religious beliefs didn’t change his feeling that tax and spend government is the only way to fly.

  • zhombre

    I’m with Danny. Huckabee bothers me. Another faux populist Southern governor, another pious Baptist bigmouth like Carter, another folksy pandering Arkansan from Hope like Clinton, another “compassionate conservative” big government advocate like Bush. Please, enough of those! That’s part of the reason, I confess, I support Giuliani now. A big city mayor from the NAWTH, of Italian heritage, and a guy the whacked out actor turned polemicist Michael Moriarty describes as a “Dionysian Catholic” for his many marriages and liberal social views, and a man with a record as an aggressive prosecutor and a jump-on-a-problem- with-both-feet executive. After all, his election would be historic: the first President whose name ended with a vowel.

  • Danny Lemieux

    I am sad to admit that I actually voted for Carter in my irresponsible youth (the first time, anyway). Jimmy Carter didn’t really show his true colors until well into his administration.

    I like Romney, Guliani and Thompson, although I am leaning toward Guliani, of late. Bottom line, though, I would rather vote for a yellow dog than….

  • Ellie

    The last time I voted in a Primary election was in 1980. I voted in the Democrat’s Primary. Never bothered since then because by the time our late Primary rolled around in June it was all over.

    It’s different this year — my State votes Feb 5th. So, I had to re-register as “Unaffiliated” to be able to vote in either Primary in Feb.

    Please make sure you know your State’s rules on voting in Primaries and make sure you can vote for your choice then, where it counts.

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