Mike Huckabee: Isn't it time we retire the term "RINO"?

Apparently someone applied this term to Huck himself and it brought him up short. You’d think he’d be used to it after the millionth time.

I’m fine with swapping it out for another term, but how do I describe myself then? “Candy-ass … centrist”? That’s too vague. “Candy-ass … establishmentarian”? Better, but still a mouthful. Few substitutes have the pithy poetic zing of “candy-ass RINO.”

“Many of you used a term that I’d like to see outlawed from the vernacular of the party: RINO,” he said, calling it a “pejorative term” that questioned one’s purity…

“With all due respect, I’ve fought in the trenches of Republican politics for over two decades, but I wouldn’t pretend that I’m lord over determining who the real Republicans are versus the so-called RINOs,” he said…

Huckabee reminded his readers that Jesus once said that “a house divided against itself cannot stand,” referring to the Gospel of Matthew…

“I’d rather have a loyal dog who licks me than one with a pedigree who bites me,” he added. “I’d rather go to battle with someone who isn’t perfect than with someone who thinks he is.”

How Jesus ended up in a scolding about RINOs versus true cons, I don’t know. I don’t understand the dog analogy either. The point about conservatives and RINOs isn’t that the former has a “pedigree” and the latter doesn’t, it’s that the latter frequently advertise themselves as one thing and then vote as another. They’re the opposite of loyal. Although maybe that’s an insight into where Huck stands on all this. From the perspective of, say, John Boehner, it’s true — the RINOs are the loyal dog and tea partiers are the pedigreed ones who bite. How does that analogy work from the standpoint of conservative voters, though? Who would Huck’s erstwhile constituents in Arkansas regard as having more of a “pedigree,” tea-party freshmen or Beltway Republicans who’ve been in Washington gladhanding rich lobbyists for 25 years?

That’s a key irony about Huck, though: He’s really not a “RINO” in the sense that the term’s usually used these days. He’s no more a creature of the Beltway than those tea-party freshmen are; on the contrary, one of the core grievances of his 2008 campaign was that the GOP establishment disdains the sort of rural, religious, blue-collar voters that it purports to represent and that he connects with. He gets slapped with the “RINO” label because of his big-government heresies but there’s got to be another term to distinguish a social-conservative warrior from the sort of status-quo D.C. slicksters we all think of when the R-bomb is dropped. How about “Pope Francis Republican”? There’s a market for that out there. Not enough to get him close to the nomination in 2016 but enough to keep politics interesting.

Exit question: Isn’t there some support among tea partiers too for jettisoning increasingly outdated labels like “RINO”? Read this Erick Erickson post from October before you answer.

Update: A friend suggests “Eeyorepublican.” I could live with that.