Ever since he first announced his intention to seek the presidency last time around, I have made no secret of my admiration for Mike Huckabee. On the national stage, I had come to believe that Huckabee was a moral and political giant among pigmies. I even wrote in late 2007 that I agreed with his then-campaign manager and former Ronald Reagan aide, Ed Rollins, that Huckabee could well be the heir to the legacy of the Gipper himself. I had hoped that the former Arkansas governor would run again in 2012. Last Saturday night on his Fox News program, he informed the world that he would not.
Huckabee was one of the few serious prospective presidential contenders to be an outspoken advocate of true federal tax reform via the Fair Tax — a national sales tax that would completely replace the corporate and personal income tax. Such a system, if properly implemented, would bring to an end a century of government policies that punish achievement in this country.
Huckabee is an unabashed defender of traditional marriage and unborn human life. As an ordained Baptist minister, he sees the spiritual and social ramifications of America's slide toward Sodom and Gomorrah.
He knows that the Second Amendment to the Constitution is not there to defend our right to hunt or even to defend our homes against invasion, but rather to ensure that Americans are never left impotent in the face of internal tyranny.
And he understands that a strong national defense is the primary role of the federal government in America.
In short, his beliefs embody the political "three-legged stool" Reagan spoke of so often: national security, fiscal responsibility leading to an opportunity society and not a welfare state, and traditional social values.
Many people have forgotten — or never knew — that in the 1990s, when Arkansas Gov. Jim Guy Tucker, Bill Clinton's felonious successor in Arkansas, was sent to prison, his lieutenant governor, Mike Huckabee, was gearing up to run for the United States Senate. Instead, Huckabee abandoned that campaign — which he likely would have won — to take charge as governor of a state in crisis. He completed the remainder of Tucker's term, and then was elected to two terms in his own right, serving a total of ten and a half years.
Much has been said and written about Huckabee's new-found wealth and celebrity. After years of personal and professional austerity, first as a Baptist pastor and then as a poorly paid public servant, he is now the host of a highly rated weekend cable news show. He is reportedly building a $2.5 million home in Florida. With a salary in the millions, six-figure speaking fees, best-selling books and a daily five-minute commentary carried on 600 radio stations, he is clearly living the dream.
But at least a few nagging questions hang in the air. What does Mike Huckabee owe America? Does the fact that he could very well win the Republican nomination and subsequently bring the socialist presidency of Barack Obama to an end obligate him to the nation far beyond any considerations of personal gain? Has he considered that the millions of dollars he is amassing for himself and his family might not be worth the paper and ink it takes to print them if Barack Obama's reckless policies are not stopped?
Was Huckabee afraid of the scrutiny he would have received this time around? Some conservatives have castigated him as being soft on crime and for tax increases implemented while he was governor; and these are no doubt issues he would have had to face had he chosen to again seek the presidency. But I believe this man had the stuff to become a great president.
Mike Huckabee restored decency to state government in Arkansas after the corruption of Bill Clinton and Jim Guy Tucker. He had a golden opportunity to do the same in Washington. I will give him the benefit of the doubt and opine that he, like Sarah Palin or Donald Trump, might do more good as a king maker than as a king. Still, it is with sadness that I realize I will not have the chance to mark my ballot for Mike Huckabee next year.