Huckabee self-destructs as a national candidate

Huck to CPAC: “The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics may be dead, but a Union of American Socialist Republics is being born … Lenin and Stalin would love this stuff.”

During the Republican primaries, I was worried about Mike Huckabee: earnest but not priggish, funny, evidently not a hater, a non-terrible record as governor, compelling speaker. Yes, of course he believed, or at least said, some certifiably nutty stuff, but he didn’t say it in a nutty way. And I’ve remained concerned that Huckabee might use the next four or eight years to learn something about the substance of national policy &#8212 he’s poorly educated, but no one’s fool &#8212 and abandon some of the “populist” positions that made him anathema to the money-cons. The result might have looked a lot like a 21st-Century Reagan, while continuing to cover a fairly serious theocrat.

I guess I can stop worrying. Here’s the Washington Independent’s account (corrected, apparently, from an earlier version) of Huck’s CPAC speech.

“The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics may be dead,” said Huckabee, “but a Union of American Socialist Republics is being born.” Democrats, according to Huckabee, were packing 40 years of pet projects like “health care rationing” into spending bills. “Lenin and Stalin would love this stuff.”

Yes, yes, the CPAC crowd is the extreme of the extreme. But in the YouTube era you can’t go around mouthing this stuff and be taken seriously as a candidate for President. Either Huckabee is losing his ear or this is what you really have to say to get the Republican Presidential nomination in 2012.

Either way, I’m relieved.

Update More from Matt Yglesias, who notes the double standard the press applies to such things: no Democratic politician could have gotten away with calling out the similarities between Bush policies (e.g., on torture) and totalitarian practices, but Huckabee can call Obama a Stalinist and not generate a peep of protest.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: