Huck vs. Mitt, in the World Series of Love


So Matthew Yglesias and others on the Left find Mitt Romney the least objectionable GOP candidate in this year’s field. Huckabee, meanwhile, is in a tight race with Giuliani for most objectionable.

I don’t get it.

Yglesias’s argument is that regardless of what Mitt might be saying on the campaign trail, however extreme (like doubling Guantanamo, or his answers to the Boston Globe survey on executive power), he’s such a pandering phony that you just can’t take that stuff too seriously. On Mitt’s record as governor, the argument goes, he’d probably operate as a competent, center-right technocrat once in office. Huck, on the other hand, is a True Believer; so all the nutty things he says on the campaign trail (like the one linked to above), he’ll probably really do.

I have two problems with that argument.

First, if Mitt wins after running on his Bush-and-then-some theory of executive power, the country loses even if he doesn’t behave that way in office. Simply running on it and winning legitimizes that ridiculous position. If he does it, he will have made that a legitimate, reasonable position to take, for every candidate for public office for at least the next several decades. We’ll be re-arguing this in every election cycle, as if it really is a perfectly reasonable constitutional theory. That alone would be a historic loss for the country, regardless of whether Mitt moderated his position once in office.

My second problem with Yglesias’s argument is that most of the really damaging things Mitt is running on, he could implement without needing much buy-in from Congress or anybody else. They’re executive functions. In fact, given the Bush precedent, he could implement them and not even bother to tell anybody he did it. Huck’s nuttier ideas, however, are generally of the kind requiring some pretty serious buy-in from Congress, the states, and/or thousands of career civil servants. He can’t just implement them by fiat from the Oval Office.

So to the Yglesias’s of the world, I say: feh. You couldn’t be more wrong.  Mitt, along with Giuliani, is the most objectionable GOP candidate. The least objectionable is John McCain, who at least has a reasonable, legally and historically justifiable definition of executive power.

This Mittmentum from the left — it’s gotta stop.*

[* Some others on the Left are rooting for Mitt because they think he’d be easy to beat in the general election. This is a different thing, though still too hazardous for my liking.]

6 Responses to “Huck vs. Mitt, in the World Series of Love”

  1. msmiranda Says:

    I don’t get it either. The fact that he’s such a pandering phony is the reason I am worried about him — we don’t really know what kind of person he is or what he would do once in office. The fact that he is a Mormon, alone, suggests that he is very conservative politically, no matter what his record in Massachusetts suggests. Hello, he was in Massachusetts, there were limits to what he could do there. Besides, I just find the idea of electing yet another pandering phony who photographs well to be an insult to democracy. Are people really that shallow?

    I also don’t know whether he would really be that easy to beat. I think that with his record, it would be very easy for him to claim the center in a contest against either Hillary or Obama. So, I second your “feh.”

  2. urbino Says:

    Thanks for getting my back. To Yglesias’s credit, I think he gets the Obama-Reagan thing about right. As I suggested in a comment to an earlier post (yours, I think), a Democratic Reagan seems to be the model Obama has adopted.

  3. michaellasley Says:

    I think miranda posted a sometime back about how it’s easy to take shots at Huck because he’s a pastor, talks about his faith a lot, says some unexpected things because of his faith. I think the Christian Right has been so bad at communicating their ideas (rather than preaching at people) that it’s scarey for liberals to hear some of the things he says.

    I’m with you fellas, though.

  4. urbino Says:

    it’s easy to take shots at Huck because he’s a pastor, talks about his faith a lot, says some unexpected things because of his faith

    I think that’s true to some extent, but it’s also the case that some of the things he says because of his faith aren’t just unexpected or misunderstood; some of them truly are outrageous, particularly from a presidential candidate. His recent statement that the Constitution has to be brought into line with God’s will leaps to mind.

  5. michaellasley Says:

    good point. that statement was ridiculous.

  6. msmiranda Says:

    yeah, my overall impression is that Huckabee is a true believer to the point of being extremely naive and sometimes seems a few fries short of a happy meal. for example, when the New York Times Magazine reporter asked him, in reference to his proposal to abolish the IRS and replace income tax with a national sales tax, how he would handle the black market that would spring up to dodge the tax, he seemed genuinely surprised that such a thing would occur. I was not aware of the “brought in line with God’s will” comment. oy vey.

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