Huckabee and small government, summed up in one sentence

This is why people like Rush Limbaugh say that Mike Huckabee is no conservative, and they’re right to say it.

His aides are wary of New Hampshire. “It’s all no tax, no government there,” said Bob Wickers, a top strategist. “It’s not ideal.” But they believe that the message of economic anxiety that he preaches will help in Michigan’s primary on Jan. 15 and in states in the South, which have high poverty rates in addition to strong groups of social conservatives.

“It’s all no tax, no government there”…said as if it’s a bad thing (“not ideal”), by an adviser to the current Republican front-runner. “No tax, no government” is the Republican ideal, or at least it used to be.

But not with the Huckabee camp. They’re strategizing from the point of view that small government attitudes don’t help them. That’s not the thinking of a conservative no matter how you look at it.

Update: A commenter asked me to comment on this Steyn article about Huckabee (metameta comment, I guess). Steyn nails things as usual, and even makes a point that I’d been looking for a chance to make for a couple of days now.

As governor, as preacher and even as disc jockey, he’s spent his life in professions that depend on connecting with an audience, and he’s very good at it. His gag on “The Tonight Show” – “People are looking for a presidential candidate who reminds them more of the guy they work with rather than the guy that laid them off” – had a kind of brilliance: True, it is cornball at one level (imagine John Edwards doing it with all his smarmy sanctimoniousness) but it also devastatingly cuts to the core of the difference between him and Mitt Romney. It’s a disc-jockey line: the morning man on the radio is a guy doing a tricky job – he’s a celebrity trying to pass himself off as a regular joe – which is pretty much what the presidential candidate has to do, too. Huckabee’s good at that.

I was at a preaching techniques seminar a couple of years ago and watched a brilliant young preacher demonstrate the speaking style that Huckabee occasionally uses in his speeches. The preacher wasn’t anyone you’ve heard of and the style wasn’t anything new in evangelical circles, but it is a style that has come into vogue in evangelical churches over the past 10 or maybe 15 years. It’s a style in which the speaker makes a point that applies to everyone in the room and then breaks the point down so that he can address it with a sentence or phrase to distinct groups of people in the room. It’s strikingly effective, because at the same time it makes a point that applies to everyone generally, uniting them and getting them to pay attention to the sermon, and then hits them individually to speak to them directly in whatever circumstance they find themselves. It gives everyone something that they can personally take away from the sermon as being said directly to them. In the right hands it creates a solid connection between the speaker and his audience and among the audience; in the wrong hands I suppose it’s a great way to manipulate crowds. I’ve seen glimpses of this speaking style in Huckabee’s appearances in the debates and TV interviews. He’s mastered it, no question about that, and that’s one of the reasons the Attack of the 50 Foot Nanny as Steyn puts it is going to be hard to beat for a conventional politician. They haven’t mastered this deeply effective style of speaking. Most of them probably haven’t even seen it before.