August 20, 2007

Huckabee: Connecting Across the Lines

David Brody of recently interviewed Emory University psychiatry professor and Democratic political strategist Drew Westen. His specialty: connecting emotionally with voters.

Brody shares the story of then President Bill Clinton calling Westen after reading his book The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation. This year donors to the major Democratic presidential campaigns have put him in touch with the campaigns or candidates.

In the interview (and in real life), Professor Westen gives advice to Democratic presidential candidates, but there is one Republican candidate who Westen says has distinguished himself in the area of voter relations: Mike Huckabee. Read his analysis below:

The thing about Huckabee is that if you watch his ability to connect with people he’s quite impressive. He can deliver a line that is very far to the right but sounds very balanced in his demeanor. His position on evolution was one that a lot of CBN viewers would agree with but it’s pretty far from the mainstream with what scientists believe about evolution yet he can speak about it in a way where people who might be skeptical may feel comfortable. That was Ronald Reagan’s real gift. He made people feel comfortable with him and his values in part because he spoke them with conviction even if they didn’t agree with his convictions.
This is becoming a common theme. Visit any Democrat blog or forum and you will find people who are scared of Huckabee. There's a reason.


Spunky said...

Hi Alex,

I couldn't leave a comment on Facebook, so I thought I'd respond here. Feel free to delete if this is inappropriate. But I wanted to make sure that you understood my concern.

Alex said, "First, most of your concerns are founded on the assumption that Huckabee will approach the issue of education as President in exactly the same way he did as Governor of Arkansas — where public schools were struggling."

That's not exactly my assumption. Like I said, this is too much for a comment box so I just hit upon many points withiin the context of Huckabee's position and subsequent policy. But my main concern was how as conservative, how he approaches the issues he faces. Overturning an election by giving state officials (most likely appointed by him) the authority to replace elected officials in his words "drastic" and in my estimation wrong. I've had liberal Democrat politicians do the same thing in the state of Michigan and take over Detroit schools through similar measures. It was wrong when they did it and it's wrong here. The fact that they got away with it "for the children" makes it all the worse for me.

As far as being a friend to homeschoolers. That's true and I accept that. They helped elect him and he helped them with issues in their state. But one can be a friend and still implement policies that might have unintened implications for homeschoolers down the road. Citing again our own state of Michigan, HSLDA with the help of a Republican Governor and friend of homeschooling John Engler passed legisialtion that has done exactly that. And many people who previously supported the legislation in the early '90's are now seeing the potential problems ten years later.

The fact that Michael Farris endorses him has merit and makes him a candidate worth considering for me. But looking at his decisions and policies helps me decide whether he is a candidate worthy of my vote. I was fooled the first time by a Governor turned President in this area, I won't be so simple-minded again.

You said, "Jeffersonian, advocating strong states and a relatively weak centralized government."

However when I read his statement which you quoted, "While there is value in the 'No Child Left Behind' law's effort to set high national standards, states must be allowed to develop their own benchmarks." makes me pause and ask, HOW does one see or value high "national standards," but still give local control to the state's to set a benchmark of their own? Given my own study of the issue, when the standards are set nationally, state's lose most if not all control. Huckabee may believe in the Jeffersonian principles of local control, but overturning a local election and statements like the one above make me wonder if he legislates like one.

Spunky said...

I don't mean to communicate any disrespect toward Mr. Huckabee or impune his character in any way. However, his policies demand our attention, before we decide to vote for or against him.

Consider his choice of Mr. Daggett for Director of Character Education in Arkansas.

In 2004, Dr. Daggett gave a presentation in Arkansas under the leadership of Mr. Huckabee that was called "Rigor, Relevance, and Relationship." These are the same terms being used in Michigan to promote our standards in education. This should be no surprise, Mr. Daggett is a nationally known proponent of national/international standards on education not local/state control. Mr. Daggett is also President of the International Center for Leadership in Education and influential policy center on education. Not surprisingly his name also pops up as an advisor to former Michigan Republican Governor John Engler as well as a host of other state governors, both Republican and Democrat. So if Mr. Huckabee believes in Jeffersonian style governance, his choice of Dr. Daggett was a confusing one because Dr. Daggett's policies are anything but Jeffersonian.

Also consider, the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation is featured as one of the links on Arkansas's Next Step website for high school reform. Bill and Melinda Gates are strong proponents of both national and international standards on education. Another link on that website is to Achieve, a nationally based intititative to create universal standards for all 50 states.

Finally, an examination of Mr. Huckabee's educational decisions as Governor show that he supports a seamless transition from Preschool to college through centralized planning.

If Mr. Huckabee believes in local/state control his choice of advisors along with his policy intitiatives leave me very perplexed. Many of his actions and deicsions point to a very different position than the one you believe he holds.

Spunky said...

This all relates to the above posts, because Mr. Huckabee's rhetorical skills.

The above quote said, "He can deliver a line that is very far to the right but sounds very balanced in his demeanor."

Amazingly, his rhetorical skills have allowed him to deliver a line and implement educational policies in his state that are far to the left and make those on the right accept them as well. That's why I much prefer to read the words and policies of a politican, rather than listen to them.

Christians for Huckabee MOBILIZE said...

love your blog, and appreciate your commentary. keep up the good work!