THE PLANK DECEMBER 11, 2009
In case you missed it, once-and-maybe-future presidential candidate Mike Huckabee traveled to Calgary, Alberta, Canada the other day and delivered himself of an address (according to his own pre-speech account, reported in the local press) focused on the terrible temptation of conservatives in the United States to tolerate diverse points of view, under the shorthand of a "Big Tent."
That would be bad, said Huck, struggling from afar against the vast forces calling for ideological heterodoxy within the Republican Party.
As someone who adores our Neighbors to the North, and has made speeches there on occasion, I was struck by how odd it was for Huckabee to be sending this particular message in this particular place. It is customary for Americans speaking in Canada to express a great deal of interest in, you know, Canada. Maybe Huck did that in his actual speech, but he sure did seem to make it clear to the S.E. Calgary News that he wanted to inform Canadian conservatives of the threat of creeping liberalism among their counterparts down south.
To be sure, Huck's on a long-term mission to make his image among conservatives match his actually extremist views. He outraged most of the Right's chattering classes in 2008 by suggesting there were grounds for resentment of economic inequality in George W. Bush's America. And his many detractors on the talk radio circuit have just been handed a big hammer, via the Maurice Clemmons story, to crush his presidential ambitions.
So maybe Huck's just exhibiting message discipline. But you have to wonder if in Calgary he went over the brink into an assault on those godless socialists in the U.S. who contemplate a pale imitation of the notoriously totalitarian Canadian system of publicly provided health insurance (which most Tories in Canada would not even think to repeal). And you also have to wonder if U.S. conservatives generally will ever stop beating the dead horse of Republican "moderation."
Ed Kilgore is Managing Editor of The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute.