Time‘s Joe Klein makes some interesting observations about Arkansas Governor and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee (“a political inconvenience, a destroyer of stereotypes”), asking whether or not “compassionate conservatism” is dead, and if poverty has a place on the Republican agenda:
In 2000, George W. Bush successfully used “compassionate conservatism” to soften his image with independents and some conservative Democrats. But it didn’t go over so well with many Republicans: I remember Bush putting more than a few country-club-conservative audiences to sleep with his long disquisitions about “armies of compassion,” only rousing the faithful when he talked about tax cuts. (Huckabee plays this card too: he claims to be the only Governor of Arkansas to cut taxes in the past 160 years.) Bush sustained his candidacy, despite all the soft talk, because he was the eldest son of royalty in the party of primogeniture. Neither Huckabee nor Brownback has that luxury, and both are languishing in the polls. Is it because it’s early and they’re not well known? Or is it just too much talk of Darfur – Brownback’s cause – and food banks? Several weeks ago, I watched Huckabee lose an audience at the National Review’s Conservative Summit with his talk of feeding the hungry and health care. “I think he’s in the wrong party,” a gentleman from Pennsylvania told me.
Bob Francis is the Organizing and Policy Assistant for Sojourners/Call to Renewal.