Evangelical conservative Mike Huckabee, the man on the move
in the Republican race, is finding his conservatism challenged.
** SOUTH CAROLINA POLL: CLINTON AND OBAMA TIED AMONG DEMOCRATS, ROMNEY AND THOMPSON TIED AMONG REPUBLICANS. Clemson University’s new Palmetto Poll of the early South Carolina presidential primary shows Hillary Clinton sliding back into a statistical dead heat with Barack Obama on the Democratic side and Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson in a similar dead heat on the Republican side, with Mike Huckabee surging into a close third place and Rudy Giuliani dropping.
On the Democratic side, it’s Clinton 19%, Obama 17%, and John Edwards 12%. No one else is in double digits.
On the Republican side, it’s Romney 17%, Thompson 15%, Mike Huckabee 13%, John McCain 11%, and Giuliani 9%.
Over half the Republican sample is 55 or older. 97% are white. The Democratic sample has a slight majority of blacks over whites, with 60% women. Both parties have huge undecided votes.
** LOS ANGELES DEBATE CANCELLED. Next month’s Democratic presidential debate in Los Angeles is being cancelled by the Democratic National Committee on account of uncertainty surrounding the Writers Guild strike and the debate’s broadcast status on CBS. There are no plans to reschedule it.
** AN IMPROVING SITUATION WITH IRAN? President Bush met yesterday with Iran’s leading ally in Iraqi politics, Shiite leader Abdel Aziz Al–Hakim. The pro-Iranian leader has not raised objections to Bush’s plan to maintain an ongoing US troop presence in Iraq when the bulk of American forces are withdrawn.
As previously reported, the US released nine Iranian agents captured in Iraq. And US officials have noted that the flow of arms from Iran into Iraq has decreased.
** BROWN SUES BUSH ADMINISTRATION ON TOXIC DISCLOSURE. Former Governor-turned-Attorney General Jerry Brown this morning sued the US Environmental Protection Agency for its decision to relax its Toxic Release Inventory. Brown, who was joined by 11 other states in the lawsuit, says the federal government is “subverting a key public safety measure.”
The Toxic Release Inventory requires annual reports of the release of toxic chemicals by refineries, chemical plants, and other manufacturing facilities.
Charging the federal government with “subverting a key public safety measure,” California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for allowing companies to hide information about toxic chemicals at thousands of facilities around the United States.
Under the new rules, says Brown, some 5,300 facilities around the country could be permitted to conceal information from the Environmental Protection Agency about toxic chemical levels and management of toxic waste. The new regulations, he says, increase by a factor of 10 the quantity of chemical waste that a facility can generate without providing detailed reports.
Joining Brown and California in the lawsuit are Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and Vermont.
** HUCKABEE’S SURGE IN IOWA MATCHED BY SURGE IN CRITICISM OF HIM. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee is now tied with Mitt Romney in a new private poll of the Iowa Republican presidential caucuses. Romney had long held a big lead in the first-in-the-nation contest. Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson are way behind both of them.
But Huckabee’s new eminence in the field is matched by a new effort to show that he’s not really a conservative. Though he is in fact the clearest social conservative in the field. Conservative columnist Bob Novak, laying out the case for his allies, scores Huckabee for raising some taxes, spending money on social programs, criticizing free trade, and backing a cap & trade program on greenhouse gases.
Huckabee is campaigning as a conservative, but serious Republicans know that he is a high-tax, protectionist, big-government advocate of a strong hand in the Oval Office directing the lives of Americans. Until now, they did not bother to expose the former governor of Arkansas as a false conservative because he seemed an underfunded, unknown nuisance candidate. Now that he has pulled even with Mitt Romney for the Iowa caucuses with the possibility of more progress, the beleaguered Republican Party has a frightening problem on its hands.
The rise of evangelical Christians as the motive force that blasted the GOP out of minority status during the past generation always contained an inherent danger if these new Republican acolytes supported not merely a conventional conservative but one of their own. That has happened now with Huckabee, a former Baptist minister educated at Ouachita Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The danger is a serious contender for the nomination who passes the litmus test of social conservatives on abortion, gay marriage and gun control but is far removed from the conservative-libertarian model of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan.
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.
Huckabee clearly departs from the mainstream of the conservative movement in his confusion of “growth” with “greed.” Such ad hominem attacks are part of his intuitive response to criticism from the Club for Growth and the libertarian Cato Institute for his record as governor. On Fox News Sunday Nov. 18, he called the “tactics” of the Club for Growth “some of the most despicable in politics today. It’s why I love to call them the Club for Greed because they won’t tell you who gave their money.” In fact, all contributors to the organization’s political action committee (which produces campaign ads) are publicly revealed, as are most donors financing issue ads.
Better not tell Chuck Norris he’s fronting a dangerous socialist.
** REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE TONIGHT. The Republican presidential field debates tonight at 5 PM Pacific time. It’s a two-hour debate in Florida, on CNN, featuring questions posed by citizens via You Tube. This is the debate scheduled for September that some Republicans decided not to do, with Mitt Romney saying he didn’t want to answer questions “from a snow man.” The candidates since changed their minds, since the field is so unsettled and there is a great deal of pressure for it to be sorted out.
** SCHWARZENEGGER IN PRIVATE DISCUSSIONS. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is in private meetings and conversations in LA today, perhaps in the state house south known as Oak Productions. (His movie production company.) He’s still trying to get a deal on universal health care, with a state Assembly session scheduled for next week.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM RUSSIA TODAY. Russia has re-emerged as one of the world’s great powers. Click here for a live TV news feed on your computer, bringing you English-language, jargon-free, fast-paced coverage of global and Russian news from the new Russia Today channel.
You probably already know about CNN International, BBC World, and Al Jazeera. Russia Today, which also features culture, entertainment, and sports, is based in Moscow and is owned and operated by the TV Novosti division of Russia’s state news agency, RIA Novosti.
While it’s quite foolish to expect to see, say, criticism of Vladimir Putin on Russia Today, the channel is very interesting nonetheless. The NWN live link to RT does not constitute an endorsement of the channel’s views. It’s presented as an otherwise unavailable new media window.
** TRACK GLOBAL AND U.S. ENERGY PRICES IN NEAR REAL TIME VIA BLOOMBERG ENERGY MARKET WATCH. Crude oil is trading in a range of $94 to $95 per barrel. This is the second day of declines in the oil market. Saudi Arabia has increased its production to the highest level this year.
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