Another day, another Republican joins the race to be President. Although I love Law & Order, I feel no loyalty to former Senator Fred Thompson, and not just because he is an actor. Who I do like, however, is former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. Do not love him, do not agree with him on many issues, and certainly would not vote for him. But I can respect the man.
Although many readers of this blog are politicos like me, there are some people who do not follow politics religiously. Probably the majority of Americans would say, "Huckabee, who? He's running for President?" And of the people who have heard of him, they probably just know him as the baptist preacher, Arkansas Governor from Hope, guy who does not believe in evolution who lost 110 pounds.
I remember first reading about him in Time Magazine's spread on the five best governors in the US. Since then, I have heard him on a lot of my dorky political podcasts (Meet the Press, Bill Maher, etc). Some of his views and policies he has supported I agree with: increasing taxes for infrastructure, using tobacco settlement money for health care, and general compassion for illegal immigrants (recognizing that they do pay more taxes than they receive benefits, and that we cannot punish children of illegal immigrants). But most of them I do not: he is against gay marriage/civil unions, for the death penalty, pro-life, for the troop surge, etc.
So what makes Huckabee interesting to me is not his policies, but rather his general philosophy on politics and it seems, life. He seems very firm and consistent in his convictions (unlike some of the candidates) but can have respect for the other side. He once said "Republicans haven't gotten it right all the time . . . Democrats haven't gotten int wrong all the time."
Moreover, Huckabee does not demonize the Clintons. In fact, he gives them credit for working through problems in their marriage and raising a "magnificent daughter." Huckabee added that Republicans cannot have two different sets of moral standards for each party. Thank you.
All in all, these are pretty bold moves for a candidate in the primary, a time when you are supposed to be getting votes from your base. This is why it feels genuine to me.
Perhaps I can say all of this because I am quite certain he will not be the Presidential nominee (though I have a feeling he will be the VP nominee), but I do mean it. Just from my limited experience in politics, the people who I feel are the best leaders are the ones who can appreciate what the other side has to offer.