Well, not really. I disagree with the former Arkansas governor and latest GOP presidential candidate on some social issues, chiefly gay marriage and reproductive rights, and he is keeping a "loyal distance" when it comes to Bush. But having heard him interviewed a few times in recent weeks (including a lengthy piece on C-SPAN's "Road to the White House" earlier this month), there are several things he says that I like very much indeed:
He is a Baptist minister, but his religion seems to be more rooted in hope and love than in fear and division. As he told Tim Russert on "Meet the Press" Sunday, "... if we’re really pro-life we have to be concerned about more than just the gestation period. As a pro-life person, as a governor, look at my record. Yes, did we pass pro-life legislation? We did. But we also did things that improved the environmental quality and the conservation issues that would affect a child’s air and water. We also made sure that he had a better education, that access to affordable health care would be better. So I think that real pro-life people need to be concerned about affordable housing, we need to be concerned about safe neighborhoods, access to a college education. That, for me, is what pro-life has to mean."
He is a strong supporter of the arts. Also from Sunday's "Meet the Press": "I think in a creative economy we’ve got to have a whole group of kids coming up and a generation whose left and right brains are stimulated. ... this country has made a huge mistake in cutting music and art out of school budgets. And it’s something we’ve got to address because the future economy is dependent upon a creative generation." How can you argue with someone who suggests that Americans should listen to more music and less talk radio?
He calls for "making Middle East oil irrelevant to American peace and prosperity." Enough said there. He managed to convince Arkansans to raise their gas taxes for better roads. Maybe he could convince Americans to do the same to fund energy independence. A Republican who advocates sacrifice for the greater good ... imagine that.
Huckabee talks about abandoning "horizontal politics" (left versus right, liberal versus conservative) in favor of a "vertical politics" that - instead of beating people down - lifts people up and looks for common ground. He talks about the need to have conversations with people who believe differently than you do. Like Barack Obama (and like Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, for that matter), he exudes a hopefulness and an optimism that's been sadly lacking in our nation these past few years.