Huckabee as deja vu moderate

(Lyon, France, Jan. 12) Here’s a no-brainer for you as the GOP primaries whirl past Michigan into South Carolina and beyond. Who said: “Since there is a God of love, our efforts to allay the suffering of the unfortunate, to temper the exercise of raw economic force at the expense of the less strong, and to provide opportunity for each individual person to realize the best that is in himself, are not sentimentalism; they are the governmental counterpart of a rule of life accepted by devout Americans as an expression of their religious convictions”? Mike Huckabee, right? Wrong. Those are the words of Arthur Larson, Under Secretary of Labor for President Eisenhower, in his 1956 book A Republican Looks at his Party. They're from the first of his eight principles defining a so-called "New Republicanism" that tried to strike a balance between the perceived harmful excesses of unfettered laissez-faire economics and the New Deal's big-government regimentation.

The striking similarities between Larson's "New Republican" trust in government to provide social insurance, and Mike Huckabee’s decision, as he put it the other day on Jay Leno’s show, to “get out of the stands” (the ministry) and go to work on behalf of the poor (politics), point to a socio-economic strain of GOP thinking that is very much at odds with Barry Goldwater’s and Ronald Reagan’s philosophy of individual freedom and responsibility under limited government.

Against the backdrop of renewed Democratic calls for antiquated New Deal/Fair Deal prescriptions -- masquerading as change and inclusiveness -- a Republican nomination of Mike Huckabee for President would mark a return to the kind of “me-too” Republicanism that led to Republican defeat in the 1936, 1940, 1944, and 1948 presidential elections.

As Republican primary voters ponder which candidate to support, they should contrast these relentless defeats with the success of conservatives in holding the White House for 20 of the past 28 years. Making the right choice should then really be a no-brainer.

Note: “Paoli” is the pen name, er, nom de plume, of our French correspondent. Monsieur is a close student of European and US politics, a onetime exchange student in Colorado and a well-wisher to us Americans. He informs us the original Pasquale Paoli, 1725-1807, was the George Washington of Corsica.