Picking Through the Leftovers: McCain or Huckabee
With Romney out of the race and a few days to ponder the remaining options, I've come to a decision on whether to cheer for Huckabee or McCain. Neither of them were my first choice, but after spending some time evaluating what I like and don't like about both candidates, I've settled on a number of things I like about each, but alot more that I don't like about McCain than Huckabee.
I've noticed a trend during the candidacy of John McCain; that he seems to think that if he says something enough, that it is true.
I first noticed it in the back-and-forth between McCain and Romney when McCain took attempted to twist a Romney quote to allege that Romney supported a timeline to withdraw from Iraq. When it was clearly showed that Romney never said nor meant such a thing, and McCain was confronted about the attack not being "straight talk" McCain simply held to his position that the attack was true and repeated multiple times that he was just giving "straight talk."
In recent months I've become confused about the definition of "straight talk" because I'm learning that it has less and less to do with the truth.
We've heard over and over from McCain that he doesn't support amnesty for illegal immigrants, when Kennedy-McCain clearly does.
We've heard that he is pro-life, when he supports the expansion and federal funding of embryonic stem cell research and opposes the human life amendment.
We've heard that he supports traditional marriage when he staunchly opposed the federal marriage amendment.
We've heard that he will nominate strong judges, but not judges like Justice Alito who wear their Conservatism "on their sleeve." (brief aside, in my opinion, Justice Alito is the best appointment to the Court since Justice Scalia.)
He tells us he is a fiscal Conservative but he opposed President Bush's tax cuts. And while he says that he would not raise taxes publicly, there are reports that he has said the opposite privately. Take that for what it is worth and a totally unconfirmed rumor.
Certainly, there are areas for debate and excuses that could be made for some of these, but when I find myself questioning the sincerity of a man over and over, it really makes it difficult to support his candidacy for the presidency.
Add to that the fact that he almost seems to relish crossing over the isle to not just work with Democrats, but advance their causes rather than those of the Republican Party, leaving us with gems like McCain-Finegold, and I've got some real concerns.
On the other hand, Huckabee is no knight in shining armor either. His history of tax increases in Arkansas, his very recent conversion to strong immigration proponent and his "big government" approach on a number of issues leave me with many of the same questions. But what I don't question is his position on social issues. I don't question that he will nominate textualist judges. I don't question that he will be a strong advocate for life and traditional marriage.
I'm not totally sold on the Fair Tax idea, but I'd take almost anything as opposed to the IRS. Though I'm also not convinced that we could get it passed.
I'm not sold on Huckabee's foreign policy credentials either, but this is an area that I see as being heavily influenced by advisors and military insiders as opposed to many of these social issues we face being a matter of personal conviction. I believe Huckabee will stay the course in Iraq and while he doesn't have the same exposure to foreign policy that McCain does, I can't anticipate any tangible difference in the way they would handle foreign affairs.
At the end of the day, as a Conservative, I find myself with an easy choice between McCain and Huckabee; Welcome to the Huckabee wagon. I question his history, but I don't question that he will at least attempt to do the things he says he will. I can't say the same for McCain.
Let us not forget the "is he electable" factor, however. I know many have gone the way of McCain based solely on the idea that he is the only one who stands a chance against Hilary or Obama. I'm an optimist though, and I truly believe that both McCain and Huckabee could beat either of the Democrats through their respective playing to the middle (as McCain is currently doing) or playing to Conservatives (as Huckabee is doing and Bush did in 2004). Though Huckabee also has a tough road ahead to even secure the nomination, I also believe it is still a possibility.
Though as a Floridian I'm really just on the sideline as our primary has come and gone, I still encourage those of you out there who live in, or have friends and family in states with primaries yet to pass, hop on the Huckabee wagon with me.