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Monday, December 24, 2007

My Hubris Moment Vis a Vis Susan Estrich

I know that I am threatening to step over the lines of political analytical hubris as I disect this piece by Susan Estrich, however I will explain later what gives ME the right to challenge such an accomplished political operative. Before that, here is some disclosure. I am NOT a Huckabee supporter, and he wouldn't even be in my top three choices for the Republican nod. (I am a Rudy supporter)

Huckabee is now a bona fide contender because the knives are out all over the place for him. For instance, Rick Moran wrote this scathing analysis.

But Mike Huckabee is not a conservative – at least not any kind of conservative that I would recognize as such. His tenure as Arkansas governor was marked by a corn pone populism – part Huey Long and part Jimmy Carter along with a massive increase in the tax burden on the individual taxpayer in his state as well as a sharp rise in spending. Huckabee channeled the ghost of Huey Long in his funding of state road improvements – largely through a hefty gas tax increase and a controversial bond issue. He also put a $5.25 premium on nursing home patients and raised the sales tax in the state. The Club for Growth detailed his “conservative” tax policy and ideas:

...The Club for Growth isn’t the only fiscally conservative group that has looked in askance at Huckabee’s record. The Cato Institute was also unimpressed by Huckabee’s tenure as governor. They gave him an “F” in fiscal policy for 2006. Hucksterites will point to his $80 million tax cut package he pushed through the legislature that eliminated capital gains taxes on home sales and indexed taxes to the inflation rate. But that’s just a drop in the bucket. While Huckabee claims to have cut taxes 90 times totaling $378 million, the state’s Department of Finance and Administration says he also raised taxes 21 times that brought in a whopping $883 million. Under his “conservative” governance, the “average Arkansan’s tax burden” went “from $1,969 in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 1997, to $2,902 in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2005, including local taxes.”

Red State is having a virtual orgy of scathing analyses of Mike Huckabee. Michelle Malkin has weighed in negatively on her forte, illegal immigration. It is obvious that the right is now picking apart every nook and cranny of his record. I have never been one to look this deeply at anyone's record. I know that in reading some of the most extreme analyses of Rudy's record that a lot can be twisted. I HAVE FOUND that detractors and supporters alike have totally misanalyed the phenomenon that is now the candidacy that is Mike Huckabee.

It really comes down to two words: charm and charisma. Those are universally appealing qualities and Huckabee has them in spades. He far exceeds those qualities compared to any of his Republican opponents, and matches even Barack Obama in those two qualities. He has a solid resume to boot which is something Obama doesn't have. Charm and charisma is the simple and succinct explanation for his tremendous appearances in every debate, and he exhibits those two qualities in every interview and appearance.

This brings me back to Susan Estrich. Now, the reason that I have decided to put Estrich in my cross hairs and not everyone of my colleagues is that she doesn't simply misanalyze Huckabee but the entire state of our party. Second, she is a Democrat and with all due respect to her, she knows less than me, a Republican, about the dynamics of our party. Now, here is a sampling of her analysis.

Huckabee is an interesting guy. He is a straight shooter, a former Baptist minister, a born-- not born-again--conservative.But as a Democrat, am I worried about Hillary or Barack taking on this former Arkansas governor?

Not a little. Certainly not a lot.Not only is he out of step with the rest of America, as opposed to the right tail of the right tail of the Republican party, which is to say the religious conservatives who dominate the caucus and primary process, on social issues, but his proposals in such areas as federal taxation and especially Social Security are enough to make any Democrat’s mouth water.Not that anyone loves taxes, but eliminating the IRS and progressive tax system and replacing it with one that puts a flat tax on all consumption, which is the most regressive way to pay our bills, doesn’t have political winner written all over it. It’s one of those ideas that people with no chance of winning run and lose on. Think Steve Forbes. It’s not one you want to defend in the World Series.

But that’s nothing compared to his proposal to get rid of the payroll tax for Social Security, and his support for private retirement accounts. Did anyone say Florida?

There is plenty to blast here. First, the minute you don't take someone seriously as an opponent is the moment your opponent defeats you, just ask USC about their loss to Stanford, the Soviets about their loss to the U.S. in 1980, Georgetown about their loss to Villanova, and the St. Louis Rams about their loss to the Patriots in 1999.

Second, while she claims that most of his proposals aren't mainstream, she backs none of it up with data. She claims ridiculously that the flat tax is a loser by attaching it to Forbes. The Flat Tax is not necessarily a loser, Steve Forbes is. The flat tax is new and revolutionary and most people don't know it or understand it. What such a proposal needs is a great ambassador to sell it. What a great salesperson needs is: charm and charisma. See where I am going here. Huckabee has all the attributes that Forbes was missing to be able to sell a revolutionary idea to the public like the flat tax. Besides what exactly will the Democrats counter with, tax increases?

She claims that while no one likes the IRS or taxes the flat tax is regressive. It is but it also gets rid of income taxes entirely. It bulks up sales taxes which are entirely voluntary (in other words you choose to buy stuff). In any case, I don't want to debate the fair tax here. What I do know is that the fair tax can be framed just fine if it has the right person framing it. Clearly, she dislikes the Fair Tax and dismisses it out of hand without much analysis. I believe that by doing so Estrich...well let me let Vizzini of The Princess Bride explain...
fell victim to one of the classic blunders!
The most famous is never get involved in a land war in Asia, but only slightly
less well-known is
this:...believing that something you don't like will also be disliked by the public at large.

She, not surprisingly, condescends to his faith and spirituality as if he is out of the mainstream. Eighty percent of this country is Christian. They may not be a Baptist Minister like Huckabee, however, again, when he speaks about his faith people WILL be impressed because: Charm and Charisma.She claims that she wouldn't be worried about a race between Huckabee and Hillary. I would. Huckabee is charming, charismatic and likeable and Hillary is not. He compares just as favorably against Obama, given that he is experienced and Obama is not. Everyone compares favorably to Edwards so that is beneath me.

The worst part of the analysis is the claim that Huckabee's rise is indication that our party is in trouble. Nothing could be further from the truth. His rise shows that our party is strong and vibrant. It shows that we have a plethora of good, qualified candidates that can at anytime capture anyone's attention. The Democrats have a scandal ridden, cold unlikeable, candidate who's only accomplishment is being married to a popular President competing against a lightweight with less than four years of national experience. In third position is a total fraud who claims to be for the little guy while living in a home that measures five digits in square footage. None of the other candidates are worth even one look.

The Democrats are arrogant and cocky because they think that Iraq has dragged the Reps down to where they can't recover. I think that will all change soon enough, and their cockiness is quite obvious in Estrich's piece. There is a reason why superbia, or pride and arrogance, is one of the seven deadly sins, and the Democrats should heed the warning not to revel in it.

Finally, I am still a bit of an internet dunce. Thus, I can't seem to figure out how to put the video into this post. Thus, for an example of Huckabee's charm and charisma check out the video in the post directly above this...

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