Why do the money-cons hate Huckabee?

Because his populist instincts, especially on trade, are a threat to their money.

Atrios marvels at the gibbering fury directed by establishment Republicans at Mike Huckabee.

I have to admit I don’t really get it. I mean, I understand why the Villagers are freaked by Huckabee, but I don’t understand why all of the idiot conservative bloggers are freaking out too. They’re using the kind of language to describe the religious right that I steer clear of personally.

Atrios is right about the depth of the fury and the lack of decency with which it expressed; John Cole has some especially juicy links. But that leaves the question “Wny?”

I think Kevin Drum and his commenters are right that some of it is class prejudice, social snobbery masquerading as intellectual snobbery. (Kevin refers to Huckabee’s “yahooism.”) If you went to Harvard, it’s plain embarrassing to say you’re going to vote for someone as … well, unwashed … as Huckabee, who claims to believe that there were two actual people named Adam and Eve, seems to positively revel in his ignorance of things such as National Intelligence Estimates, and probably wouldn’t even pretend to be able to tell one wine from another. And some of it is genuine fear of a candidate for President who might actually act on some of the theocratic nonsense the Republicans have been selling to the rubes.

But Kevin actually answers his own question in his title, when he refers to Huckabee’s attackers as “the money-cons.” Precisely! They’re concerned about what he might do to their money.

While it’s true that Huckabee’s proposed policies would actually be disastrous for the poor, they wouldn’t be much good for the rich, either. And his populism seems genuine. He’s the only non-millionare in the Republican field, and most of his buddies aren’t millionaires either, nor were his parishoners. Given a chance to move some of the 15% of personal income now gobbled up by the top 1% down a couple of income quintiles, my guess is that President Huckabee would be for it.

But the real deal-breaker for the money-cons is trade. (Andy Sabl pointed this out to me, and accurately predicted the sh*t-storm Huckabee is now encountering, right after my perhaps over-enthusiastic post predicting that Huckabee would wind up as the nominee.)

Globalization is the closest thing the money-cons have to a religion. In addition to thinking that it’s good for them, they genuinely believe that it’s good for the world. Huckabee, by contrast, seriously believes that the U.S. should be economically autarchic, with high trade barriers. That’s what really sticks in the money-cons’ craw; the outpouring of abuse directed at Huckabee’s social background (he’s “Huckleberry” to some of them) and his religiosity is largely secondary to the fear of Huckabee’s Peronist economic tendencies.

“Given the choice,” Andy Sabl told me two weeks ago, “the money-cons would rather deal with Hillary or Obama than Huckabee.” I think that’s right.

I’m still not sure they can actually stop him, especially if Giuliani and Romney both stay in the race to split the non-evangelical vote. But I am convinced that they would run away from him in droves in November, giving either Hillary or (especially) Obama a good shot at running up a landslide that would sweep two dozen more Democrats into the House and five or six into the Senate.

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: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com