A couple of days ago, I observed that Barack Obama has a little trick where he makes conservatives like him by summarizing their point of view before rejecting it. Ross Douthat and I talk that over and Ross says it makes him a dangerous, dangerous figure. See also what I think Iran is up to.
Ross is dead right if the biggest thing people remember about Mike Huckabee from Zev Chafetz’ New York Times Magazine profile is the business about Mormons believing Jesus and Satan are brothers (it seems this is real Mormon doctrine) then Huckabee’s getting off easy. What really comes away is that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He has no record on foreign policy issues, says his thinking is a mélange of Frank Gaffney, Tom Friedman, Duncan Hunter, and he once chatted with Richard Haas. So it’ll be run-amok militarism, plus Friedman-style moralism, plus realpolitik.
Except, obviously, it won’t. Huckabee’s just kind of making stuff up.
Oddly, as Ross says, Huckabee actually seems perfectly qualified to be president by current standards: we elected a governor of Arkansas President as recently as 1992, and his tenure in office compares favorably with many of the major candidates. But “it’s worth making a distinction between being qualified and being prepared” and Huckabee is woefully unprepared. It’s not just that he lacks staff, though he does. Lots of people who don’t have staffs have a better handle on this stuff than Huckabee does. He just clearly hasn’t put any effort into preparing himself to answer serious questions about a whole range of areas of national policy. He’s clearly not going to be elected president, so I won’t call it a “frightening” lack of preparation, but it is kind of insulting to us, the American people, that he’s done so little due diligence.
The Center for American Progress is represented in Bali (at the UNFCCC talks) by Kit Batten, Managing Director of Energy and Environmental Policy (and recently a co-author of “Capturing the Energy Opportunity“). Earlier this week she spoke at a press conference sparked by Senator John Kerry’s attendence at the negotiations.
Batten reports that she’s been fielding one question repeatedly: What is the U.S. doing to address climate change? Her statement is published below, in which she also discusses policy points central to moving forward:
In today’s GOP presidential debate in Iowa, Fred Thompson refused to answer whether or not global climate change is a “serious threat and caused by human activity.” When the moderator asked to see a show of hands from the candidates, Thompson became combative and declared, “I’m not doing hand shows today.” At least four other candidates raised their hands.
When the moderator refused to give him a full minute to answer the question, he replied, “Well, I’m not going to answer it.” While McCain and several other candidates followed up and outlined their energy plans, Thompson stayed silent. Watch it:
Thompson is clearly not very concerned about global warming. Yesterday on Glenn Beck’s radio show, Thompson said that while the “Earth is warming,” we “don’t know whether or not it’s a part of a cycle. We’ve had cooling stages before. We don’t know to what extent it’s due to manmade causes.”
There are a lot of unanswered questions. We don’t know to the extent this is a cyclical thing. This may or may not effect very much. The extremists are the ones who want to do drastic things to our economy before we have more answers as to how much good we can do and whether people in the other parts of the world are going to contribute. It’s the fact that our entitlements are bankrupting the next generation. We’re spending the money of those yet to be born and we can’t continue that way.
Romney was the only candidate to applaud today when Thompson protested the “hand shows.”
UPDATE: Frank Luntz’s Fox News focus group of Republicans unanimously loved Thompson’s theatrical stand on global warming:
UPDATE II: At a post-debate campaign stop, Thompson said that he refused to raise his hand for global warming because format was “monkey business.”
Transcript: Read more
Anti-immigrant passion also owes much to the disproportionate influence of a few small states in the nominating process. National polls show that, as an issue, immigration is far behind the Iraq war, terrorism, the economy, and health care as a concern to most Americans; a recent Pew poll shows that, nationally, only six per cent of voters offer immigration as the most important issue facing the country. But in Iowa and South Carolina, two of the three most important early states, it is a top concern for the Republicans who are most likely to vote.
And there you have it, yet another tribute to America’s bizarre system of selecting presidential nominees. Of course one assumes that the larger national audience of Hispanics who Republicans were so actively courting just a couple of years ago hasn’t missed how quickly everyone — even Saint John McCain, Man of Principle — has been willing to toss them overboard.
Rep. Steve King recently (R-IA) introduced legislation recognizing the “importance of Christmas and the Christian faith,” despite previously opposing resolutions recognizing the Muslim celebration of Ramadan and the Hindu Diwali.
A spokesman for King told ThinkProgress that the congressman simply “thought it was important to honor Christmas” by introducing the bill. Yet today on Fox News, King went further, decrying an “assault on Christmas” from “secularists” who want to “eradicate Christ from Christmas.” Ignoring the Constitution, King claimed America is really a “Christian nation”:
I recognized that we’re a Christian nation founded on Christian principles, and we’re coming up to Christmastime. … It’s time we stood up and said so, and said to the rest of America, Be who you are and be confident. And let’s worship Christ and let’s celebrate Christmas for the right reasons.
In his tirade, King attacked the nine “liberal Democrat” “naysayers” who voted against the bill. “I would like to know how they can vote yes on Ramadan, yes on the Indian religions, and no on Christianity, when the foundation of this nation and our American culture is Christian,” he said.
In response, Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) ripped King’s religious zealotry as “another sad attempt by conservative Republicans to skew the line between church and state”:
“America is not a Christian nation,” Hastings said. “It is a nation of Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and everyone in between. Our diversity is our strength and those who seek to use religion as a litmus test are doing a disservice to all of us.”
As for the “assault on Christianity,” Hastings said, “all someone has to do is visit a shopping mall, turn on the radio or TV or look at the Christmas trees sitting on the front lawns of the White House and the United States Capitol to realize that no such assault is underway.”
Ryan Avent pleads “Can we all agree that however one feels about the merits of gun-control, the District’s tightest-in-the-nation gun laws are unlikely to tell us much about the actual costs and benefits of gun control, seeing as we share a border with Virginia?” Well, yes and no. I don’t think you can infer anything about the merits of adopting DC-style rules as a national gun regulation regime from the effects of the DC gun ban in DC. But the vast majority of gun control regulations take place at the city or state level, for which purposes the DC case is an illustrative example. The slogan “when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns” is obviously an oversimplification, but DC is close to a pure instance of the principle. There’s little practical impediment to handgun ownership in DC save a self-image as a law-abiding person.
And this is a not-infrequent scenario. Strict gun control regimes are popular in many urban areas, but it’s precisely such areas that are in no position to enforce these regulations in a productive and effective manner. That, in turn, tells you something about the psychology and politics of the issue — that on both sides its a form of identity politics; on the controller side, a means of expressing dislike of gun culture and various aspects of American folkways, a kind of liberal version of sundry ineffective “tough on crime” nostrums from the right.
The unwillingness of the mainstream GOP candidates in this debate to confront Huckabee’s fair tax snake oil is striking. Similarly, Romney is careful to neither repeat the Lafferite nonsense of his opponents nor explicitly contradict it. The facts are on his side but he’s afraid to use them.
I feel sorry for the guy; everyone else in this race has had his moment in the sun in this topsy-turvey race. Why not him?
“A magazine published by the American Bar Association on Wednesday named former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales its Lawyer of the Year for 2007 — mostly for creating so much controversial news.”