At the risk of incurring a roundhouse kick from the great Chuck Norris, I must confess that I'm even more troubled by Mike Huckabee's direction than I was last week.
On "Meet the Press" in January 2007, Tim Russert asked Huckabee, "You said this: 'I have a hard time seeing (Sen. John McCain) being elected president, just because I think, at times, some of his views have alienated very important segments of the Republican Party. I'm not sure he can mend the fences with the evangelical wing of the party, the pro-life part of the party.' You stand by those words?"Huckabee responded, "Well, sure, I said them. I, I have a lot of respect for Senator McCain. He's a great American hero. But I do think that there are going to be some challenges that he'll face, and some of them have to do with issues that really have alienated many conservatives."
Bingo -- except now these words could apply equally to Huckabee -- not concerning the pro-life issue but Huckabee's unfortunate piece in Foreign Affairs magazine, where he joined the Democratic amen chorus in indicting President Bush for his "arrogant bunker mentality."
Until now, Huckabee has been fairly Teflon, avoiding real damage with conservatives for some of the unappealing aspects of his record and policy agenda. But the Foreign Affairs article, "America's Priorities in the War on Terror," could be his "Howard Dean scream" moment -- assuming Republicans are listening with a modicum of objectivity.
For taken at face value, a number of his statements in the piece surely will, to paraphrase Huckabee, "alienate very important segments of the Republican Party." Why? Because they wrongly trash President Bush in the words of ill-meaning Democrats who have slandered Bush's foreign policy from the beginning for their own partisan ends.
Huckabee's most offending words appeared at the very outset of the article, which should remove any doubt they were central to his theme. He wrote, "The United States, as the world's only superpower, is less vulnerable to military defeat. But it is more vulnerable to the animosity of other countries. Much like a top high school student, if it is modest about its abilities and achievements, if it is generous in helping others, it is loved. But if it attempts to dominate others, it is despised. American foreign policy needs to change its tone and attitude, open up, and reach out. The Bush administration's arrogant bunker mentality has been counterproductive at home and abroad. My administration will recognize that the United States' main fight does not pit us against the world but pits the world against the terrorists."