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Huckabee's Promises Out-Bush the President

Former Ark. governor Mike Huckabee has an ambitious energy program. (AP).

By Peter Baker
For all of the understandable attention to the Bush-bashing rhetoric in former governor Mike Huckabee's new foreign policy manifesto, what is interesting about the document is that in many ways, the president would agree with a lot in it. If anything, in some key areas, Huckabee is not promising to repudiate Bush so much as to out-Bush the president.

Just as Bush has vowed to move the country toward energy independence, so does Huckabee. The difference is that Huckabee says he can do it in 10 years. While the president fights for tens of billions of additional military spending, Huckabee promises to go him one better by devoting hundreds of billions of dollars more to the Pentagon. And Huckabee agrees with the Bush plan to expand the size of the Army and Marine Corps over the next five years; he just says he could get it done in half the time.

The promises serve as a reminder of how much easier it is to be a candidate than president. Unconstrained by the reality of putting together a budget or selling an ambitious program to an opposition Congress, candidates can promise to do what they want, as much as they want and as fast as they want. The trick becomes if they actually win an election and are forced to live up to these campaign-trail pledges. The three examples from Huckabee's article in Foreign Affairs magazine provide an object lesson in the challenge that awaits anyone who arrives in the White House after making such expansive commitments to the voting public.

Take energy independence. Huckabee would not be the first president to vow to end the U.S. reliance on foreign oil. That would actually be Richard M. Nixon, who promised to do so in 1973. So did Jimmy Carter later in the decade. Democratic presidential nominee John F. Kerry promised in 2004 to make the United States "energy independent," while Bush vowed to reduce dependence. Actually, by columnist Charles Krauthammer's count, 24 of the last 34 presidential State of the Union addresses since the oil embargo of 1973 have proposed solutions to U.S. energy problems. Needless to say, none of these presidents found it so easy. Where the United States imported 35 percent of its oil from overseas in 1973, today more than 60 percent of it comes from abroad.

Understanding how difficult such a goal would be, Bush kept his target more manageable in his 2006 State of the Union address, when he committed to "replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025." That's not as much oil as it may sound. Of the 13.7 million barrels the United States imports each day, just 3 million of it comes from the Middle East, so Bush would in today's terms replace about 2 million barrels a day in oil supplies. Huckabee, by contrast, promises to replace all 13.7 million of it by 2019. "The first thing I will do as president is send Congress my comprehensive plan for achieving energy independence within 10 years of my inauguration," he writes in Foreign Affairs. "We will explore, we will conserve, and we will pursue all types of alternative energy: nuclear, wind, solar, ethanol, hydrogen, clean coal, biomass, and biodiesel." In other words, all of the things Bush is already pursuing. And Huckabee is not even the most grandiose in his promises; Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) promised during last week's Iowa debate to do it by 2014. "I will make it a Manhattan Project, and we will in five years become oil independent," he vowed.

Likewise, while criticizing the president for his "arrogant bunker mentality," Huckabee promises to out-Bush Bush in the military arena. He notes that the United States now spends about 3.9 percent of its gross domestic product on defense compared with 6 percent in 1986. "We need to return to that six percent level," he writes. First of all, using percentage of GDP as a measurement tells only part of the story. While the Pentagon budget is a smaller proportion of the overall economy today, that is largely because the overall economy has grown so much; measured in inflation-adjusted dollars, the $459 billion Pentagon budget today is actually almost as big as it was in the Cold War under Ronald Reagan not even counting the additional $196 billion Bush wants this year for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But assuming Huckabee is talking only about the base Pentagon budget, then he is promising is to increase it by roughly half again, or $230 billion a year at a minimum. He does not say where the money would come from.

Similarly, he says he can expand the size of the military faster than Bush can. He notes that the president plans to add another 92,000 troops to the Army and Marines over the next five years. "We can and must do this in two to three years," he writes. He goes on to say that he recognizes "the challenges of increasing our enlistments without lowering standards," but -- other than increasing spending -- he does not suggest how he will find and train that many more young men and women every year without compromising those standards, nor does he explain how he could do it faster than Bush's five-year time frame.

But that is the luxury of the campaign trail. Huckabee is not the first to write that he would cast a wary eye on Russia, increase military spending as a proportion of GDP, find a balance between promoting democracy and promoting stability or get the armed forces out of the business of nation building. Those promises, at least, sound an awful lot like those in another article that ran in Foreign Affairs back in 2000 -- by the chief foreign policy adviser to the George W. Bush campaign.

By Web Politics Editor  |  December 18, 2007; 10:09 AM ET
Categories:  A_Blog , B_Blog , Mike Huckabee , Morning Cheat Sheet  
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e_comglobe This may surprise you, but I think of Huckabee the way you think of Mitt. You can go to Mitt Report and read all about Huckabee. Huckabee has a record that scares me silly.

A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still. I think Huckabee is the fake. So one for your Huckabee's side and one for Romney's

Posted by: manwaringjd | December 18, 2007 10:51 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for a refreshing article that tells it like it really is. I am glad that you got down to the nitty gritty of politics. Promises mean nothing without a detailed approach and those approaches come after must time and effort.

I think records are the way to see who has the "stuff" to really bring the change we are all clamoring for. There are candidates that have the record and the vision. Huckabee is not one of them

Posted by: manwaringjd | December 18, 2007 10:47 PM | Report abuse

Oh great, just what we need - Bush on steroids with the cross of Jesus going on before.

Take back America from the neocon theocrats. A vote for Huckabee is a vote for the Christian Taliban.

Posted by: coloradodog | December 18, 2007 8:55 PM | Report abuse

Anyone interested in what Huckabee is really like face to face should try this funny (but it actually happened) column:

Posted by: lanefiller | December 18, 2007 3:43 PM | Report abuse

I'd have to get the whole story, this article sounds fishy. I have my own doubts, but I think we need to ask the right questions.

Energy: I see nothing wrong with moving towards energy independence, and linking Bush to that does not diminish the importance of that initiative. It's one of the few things Bush spent our money on that was worth something. So he and McCain want to speed that up? Good, it needs to be done. My questions for Huckabee would be environmental questions; fuel standards, electric cars, research into celulosic ethanol production, global warming, building a trillion dollar industry that works - much like the internet did - in getting lots of prosperity using innovation and new technology. This article almost makes energy independence sound like a bad thing.

Military: With the right foreign policy and getting rid of the arrogant bunker mentality not much military is even needed, but the real question is "what is the stronger military going to do?". Inreasing the defense budget is still cheaper than all the Iraq war stuff, because Bush doesn't add that to the Pentagon budget, it's always emergency supplementals. And you know what we spend that money on? Contractors because we don't have the troops. Maybe with more military - or better yet better military focus - we don't have to call contractors during a hurricane or wildfires because all of our national guard troops are in Iraq, a country completely unrelated to 9/11 that was never a threat until now. My questions for Huckabee are; What about Iraq? What about Iran? What about Darfur? Are we going to work tactically and diplomatically to create a peaceful world or are we just going to invade every country that has oil and promote "freedom" through the barrel of a gun?

This stuff in the article, while deceptively similar, doesn't make him Bush - but it could depending on his loyalties. That's why I have my doubts. To God and country or to gold and company? What makes Bush so awful are things that aren't necessarily listed here. Would Mike behave differently? Who knows. He's just a politician, and they have been known to lie occassionally. But my opinion is that these policies alone do not make him another Bush. Only the correct mixture of arrogance and apathy can do that, and only time will tell if he's like that or not.

Posted by: grimmix | December 18, 2007 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Why is it that Politicians (like our President) who proclaim their Christianity the most are the LEAST Christ-like in their actions. Certainly less Christ-like than most Agnostics and Atheists.

Posted by: lufrank1 | December 18, 2007 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Maybe the additional 92,000 Marines will be used to occupy Washington after Ayatollah al-Huckabee declares jihad against the liberal humanists.

I don't see how can anyone take this "candidate" seriously. His campaign promises are as laughable as his name and his nutty magical-wizard-in-the-sky beliefs.

Posted by: squier13 | December 18, 2007 3:02 PM | Report abuse

so it's the media that's being fooled by the ever so saintly huckabee.

that christmas commercial with the cross was just over the top and there is no way that he can ever redeem himself with non-christians and christians alike. it was just outright pandering to the right and a surefire way to lose many independents. i thought he was the most sensible and the most electable but there's more sinister things lying beneath that benevolent mask.

i thought bush prostituted the religious thing but huckabee is turning it into a free enterprise zone.

Posted by: glenknowles | December 18, 2007 2:27 PM | Report abuse

If you liked Bush, you'll love Huckleberry,

Posted by: donnolo | December 18, 2007 2:17 PM | Report abuse

huckleberry hound is the most articulate and sane republicon running. And he is just another bush. What does that say about the gop? Knocking these guys is a little unfair - sort of shooting fish in a barrel, but it is certainly not unjustified. Look at the prblems this crew has left and it would be downright irresponsible to NOT go after them and make sure people know they are representing the exact same nonsense republicons have been peddling for years.

Posted by: John1263 | December 18, 2007 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Mentioning a state governor "balancing the budget" is funny. Almost every state in the Union has provisions in the their state constitutions which mandate balanced budgets.

Posted by: John1263 | December 18, 2007 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Paul is even crazier than hucaklebee. Paul is pandering without even thinking about what he is actually proposing or it's impact.

Posted by: John1263 | December 18, 2007 1:56 PM | Report abuse

I don't understand why we need to have more Marines, etc. What are they going to do?

Posted by: RockvilleBear | December 18, 2007 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Oh, It's all of you again.

It's your "Aw Shucks" and then your biased, facts that are really just another Glob of Fiction (which are now officially old and shows that you will say ANYTHING to get your candidate to win...even if it's a big fat lie!)

I urge everyone who has read all the hogwash from the other comments to do their own homework. Call up a resident of Arkansas. Better, Call up an African American group in Arkansas (48% re-voted Huckabee back into office. Interesting Ugh?) Call up schools, moms and dads. They'll all give you a great reason why they voted in a REPUBLICAN Gov named Mike Huckabee for 10 1/2 years. He did more for that state - like balancing the budget EVERY YEAR, getting schools up and competitive, built well-needed roads that brought in billions of revenue from business' that moved instate. Now every resident in Arkansas is reaping the benefits of Mike's honest and honorable hard work. We could use a selfless politician right now in this very selfish world. All Your Fact Fact Facts are just Selfish Opinions.

When you learn the Truth, You'll also Vote Mike. Until then, I hope you all a Merry Christmas.

Posted by: pjacobsuk | December 18, 2007 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Extremist right wingers may support hucksterbee, but he is one of those candidates that looks kind of ok from a great distance but when he gets closer you notice the warts and an unmistakable odor. If you like bush, you'll love this guy. That's because the only reasons to like bush aremhis disdain for the constitution and his adherence to extremism.

Posted by: John1263 | December 18, 2007 1:40 PM | Report abuse

christmas is the celebration of the birth of jesus christ and if anyone do not want to celebrate it then don't but remember, each time you give a gift to someone else, you are mimicking the 3 wise men that gave gifts to jesus at his birth and most importantly, you are mimicking the giving factor that God gave his only begotten son to the world. So whether you formally ccelebrate or deny it, each gift given is a reflection of God Giving Christ to the earth as a gift.

I am so proud of Huckabee i do not know what to do. He is a man of principle and he surely just sealed the deal with my vote. He will win and big he will, and while the pundits try to demise him, or his other political rivals try to make him look bad. They may want to look at the mirror at themselves. You got flip flopping mitt, dead fred, pimped out guiliani and no brain mccain. Huckabee is the sure winner and will win big. I can not wait for romney to get out of the race. i bet he will go back to hiring illegals to work in his yard. check more out about him at he is the biggest flake since kellogs!

Posted by: in-God-I-Trust | December 18, 2007 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Oh my God I can't take another Republican telling me I am a God fearing man and I will be President of everyone except for the gays, blacks, Italians, non Christians, Polish, French, Jews, Muslims, Mormon God the list just goes on and on with this bunch of God fearing men.

Please give us a break we are no just unsatisfied with the Republicans like we were with the Democrats in 1994, we are just plained pissed at them.

We sent a clear message chance course in Iraq, do something good for children and start fixing health care and social security. We didn't ask you to complete it in one year. But you refused to listen and said you were the master.

Got news for you no we are the masters and we are pissed.

Posted by: antonio3 | December 18, 2007 1:12 PM | Report abuse

IOW--if you want more of the last 7 years, vote Republican (except Ron Paul), but especially Huckabee.

Posted by: elroy1 | December 18, 2007 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Get ready for the Republican "Gee you Democrats are so mean and partisan" and "we Republicans are really nice guys that will protect you and invite you to have a beer with us" parade.

Fundementalist christians and most of the press is so easily manipulated by these hypocritical liars it makes me sick.

Thank God that most of the public has woken up and realizes how bad these guys are.

They are LIARS!

The guy with the extended post on Huckabees real record is doing what the job that the press is supposed to be in business to do.

Tell us what these guys real agenda is.

If the press had dug out the facts on Bush and told us what Bush's real agenda was in 2000, he would never have gotten close enough to steal the election.

Bush would never have even gotten past the primaries if more people in the press had done their job!!!

Please don't fail us again.

America can't afford another Republican president.

The middle class doesn't have any assets left for them to steal.

Posted by: svreader | December 18, 2007 12:55 PM | Report abuse

How interesting. If an article had trashed Ron Paul this badly, by now, there'd be about 150 comments refuting the author, and probably 3 or 4 phone calls into WaPo asking for the author to be hanged.

If Huckabee is doing so well in the telephone polls as to be nearly eclipsing Giuliani, then one can't help but wonder why so few people have shown up (so far) to defend him? Just one more example of why telephone polling's "projected" supporters are just that - projections.

It's not really fair to single out Huckabee, though. I mean, all the GOP candidates (except Ron Paul) are making insane promises that they have no intention of keeping even if they had the ability. They promise to "fix" the economy, increase manufacturing jobs, make social security solvent, solve the energy crisis, end global warming, etc., etc. I keep waiting for one of them to promise to make it rain soup every day at 4:30. They have become seduced by the illusion of political power. As if the only thing lacking in a solution to the energy crisis is the will.

I find Dr. Paul's honesty much more refreshing: he says he "has no idea how to run your life, no idea how to run the economy, and no idea how to run the world." He proposes, instead, to let each of us run our own life, our own economy, and our own little part of the world. We know from observation of the last 100 years of history, that government-run anything ends up a mess. It ends up oftentimes creating / perpetuating the very problem it was set up to eliminate.

We also know that privately owned and operated endeavors are oftentimes much better at allocating scarce resources.

Private efforts do fail sometimes (Enron, et al.) but at least that is self-limiting. Enron is gone, Kenneth Lay was convicted, fined, and sentenced to jail. But nothing sticks around like a government program that fails to meet it's goals - in fact failure is oft rewarded with more resources and power.

Posted by: demonrats | December 18, 2007 12:52 PM | Report abuse

ask huckabee where kangaroos came from, just to get a sense of his derangement. (he's part of a biblical pseudo science group that connects traces animal evolution biblically)
and then ask bush and his assswipe mensan friends on the right why they think killing animals is morally acceptable and amusing.

Posted by: e9999999 | December 18, 2007 12:45 PM | Report abuse

What is your point- wow- are blogger types on here the most neagtive people on the planet or what? get a life- Huckabee is by far the most articulate, level-headed, likeable candidate the Republicans have running!- you people are nothing but political hack job artists- without you filtering all the information - Huckabee could hold his own in debating the democrats...but all anyone wants to do these days is ATTACK

Posted by: timklly747 | December 18, 2007 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Would Bush agree with this?:

"A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ."

Huckabee did, in August of 1998, when he added his name to an ad in USA Today affirming the statement on the family issued by the 1998 Southern Baptist Convention.

Posted by: pali2500 | December 18, 2007 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Just what we need: Another George Bush, cloaked in religious garb. No thanks.

Posted by: Spectator2 | December 18, 2007 12:25 PM | Report abuse

The similarities between the Huck and the Dubya should win the Huck some support with....what, say 23% of the voters.

Posted by: IssyWise | December 18, 2007 12:12 PM | Report abuse

wealthtraining... Look through his "Awe Schucks" act and see him for what he really is. Mike Huckabee is a wolf in sheep's clothing that uses the religion card to push his own agenda.

That is exactly right. He is also a "reformed" health crusader who wants to impose his views on your behavior and make you conform.

Here is his method of imposing a ban on anything he doesn't like in an excerpt from a speech he gave on health care at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center on 11-09-07.......(This is about smoking, but he feels that way about food and exercise too.He is a reformed crusader who thinks his mission is to make everyone conform to his way.)

"There are three stages in a cultural change. First is attitude change. You have got to change attitudes through education, awareness, and helping people to see things differently. The government has a role in that, helping to shape the discussion and frame the debate. The second thing is atmosphere change. You take out the ashtrays, you put up the no smoking signs, you put the litter baskets out and you say this is where the litter belongs, not on the highways. You change the atmosphere. The third thing comes the action phase and this is when government then codifies into law what has become a new behavioral norm. The problem is some people want to go right to the government level and say let's just put a ban right now on cheeseburgers, or let's say that there will be a tax on ice cream that will exceed whatever, the point is that is a proposal but if you start with a government action before the culture has moved to a place that it can tolerate it, the battle is over personal liberties and rights and I would guess in this state that would be a big battle but it would be a big battle anywhere".
(Punctuation as given in the article)

Posted by: RedRose1 | December 18, 2007 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Okay...Huckabee's the hot candidate. Oops, now it's McCain (wow...the endorsements!). Oops, not so hot now? Who's next? Hmmm... Nobody else around, at least nobody with any [loud cough] significant poll numbers, so I guess we'll just cycle on back to trumpeting the virtues of Giuliani and Romney.

Iowa and New Hampshire voters: The long journey to restore our nation to its greatness begins with you. Make us proud.

Posted by: thirty3na3rd | December 18, 2007 12:05 PM | Report abuse

I love the guy! But, because I know so little about him, I was curious as to
why I was so comfortable with his personna. Why he comes across as so
trustworthy and likeable! I just saw his Christmas advertisement on MSNBC's,
Joe in the Morning show and realized that I'm looking at the reincarnation
of "Gomer Pyle."
Acts, looks, and even has the same mannerisms when he
talks, as Jim Nabors did in his characters on the Andy Griffen and Gomer
Pyle, U.S.M.C. shows. That might be an explaination for his sudden stealth
surge in the primary political polls. A broad spectrum of our population
loved Jim Nabors. Great actor, wonderful singing voice.

A GOOGLE search for "Vince Carter Gomer Pyle" results in the following among
others: Scroll down and there's "Mike
Huckabee leaning on a gas pump in Mayberry,NC."

Mike Huckabee is not Jim Nabors but may very well be a "Gomer Pyle" in
political sheeps clothing! Could it be that he's a Southern Baptist
(huckster) Huckabee, ex-governor from Hope, Arkansas, which gives him far
more in common with Bill Clinton than a lot of people are aware of :
birthplace, cultural, religious, educational and social backgrounds as kids
are all common.

Politically! He's good! Real good at making me feel comfortable but now I
know why! It's not just his, "eliminate the IRS and go to a national sales
tax pitch" that caught my attention.

to the White House as one would have assumed!!!!!!

Posted by: jpainter | December 18, 2007 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Like the rest of the Candidates Huckabee is just another self serving Politician that will say or do anything to get elected. Where u agree with him or not Ron Paul is the only candidate running that has principle's and says what he believes and not what he thinks will get him the most votes. I think most people or sick of lying, worthless politicians that puts their self first, the party second, lobbyists third and it appears most put illegal invaders fourth, and the Nation and American citizens are not even on there map except to be lied too and used for votes!

Posted by: american1 | December 18, 2007 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Enough said about this guy...hopefully he moves to the bottom of the list...using god to get elected is a sin in my book.

Posted by: dbax | December 18, 2007 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Huckabee looks to be a multiple of Bush only he has personality.

Posted by: MTgrassland | December 18, 2007 11:34 AM | Report abuse

I find it hard to believe that the Arkansas Governor's Mansion ever had $70,000 worth of furniture. And after we've paid for Bush's Potemkin ranch with the stocked trout pond and the other toys, don't you think we all owe his successor a pass?

Posted by: dfc102 | December 18, 2007 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Sounding more like a president with some of the lowest approval numbers might get Mr. Huckabee the nomination but in winning that battle, he will surely lose the warn.

We've already had 6 years of George Bush and the voters don't want any more.

Posted by: hootie1fan | December 18, 2007 11:31 AM | Report abuse

The only thing Huckabee wants you to think is that he is some how qualified to be president because he used to be a baptist minister and is a so called true "Christian Leader".

Will the real Mike Huckabee please stand up?

FACT: Mike Huckabee was one of 131 signatories to a full page USA Today Ad which declared: "I affirm the statement on the family issued by the 1998 Southern Baptist Convention." What was in the family statement from the SBC? "A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ."

FACT: Mike Huckabee granted 1,033 pardons and commutations, including 12 convicted murderers, one of which "Wayne DuMond" shortly after his release moved to Missouri where he raped and murdered Carol Sue Shields. He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in Clay County, Mo., in 2003. He died in prison in 2005.

FACT: Mike Huckabee stole over $70,000 worth of furniture from the Arkansas governors mansion.

FACT: Mike Huckabee supported in-state higher education benefits for children of illegal immigrants.

FACT: Mike Huckabee opposed a federal raid of 119 illegal immigrants at an Arkansas Tyson poultry plant, 107 of whom left the country either voluntarily or through deportation.

FACT: Mike Huckabee opposed a bill requiring proof of citizenship to vote in his own state.

Will the real Mike Huckabee please stand up?

FACT: Mike Huckabee and his administration pushed for legislation to grant driver's licenses to illegal immigrants.

FACT: Mike Huckabee set up a nonprofit entity so he could give paid ``inspirational'' speeches without having to disclose the donors.

FACT: As governor of Arkansas five years ago, Mike Huckabee joined a bipartisan chorus of politicians who concluded that the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba was bad for businesses. Now that he's a top-tier candidate for president, Huckabee has decided he favors the embargo -- so much so that he vowed Monday to outdo even President Bush in strangling the regime of Cuban President Fidel Castro and punishing those who do business there.

FACT: Huckabee along with special interest big business built a Mexican consulate in Akkansas for illegals.

FACT: The ethics commission fined Huckabee $1,000 for failing to report that he paid himself $14,000 from his 1992 U.S. Senate campaign and $43,000 from his 1994 lieutenant governor's campaign.

FACT: Huckabee accepted more than 300 gifts worth at least $130,000, ranging from $3,700 cowboy boots to a $600 chainsaw.

FACT: Arkansas lawmakers criticized the registries, which were listed as "wedding" registries, even though the Huckabees have been married since 1974.


Look through his "Awe Schucks" act and see him for what he really is. Mike Huckabee is a wolf in sheep's clothing that uses the religion card to push his own agenda.

Posted by: wealthtraining | December 18, 2007 11:24 AM | Report abuse

The fact Mr Baker treats as meaningful the ridiculous blather that constitutes GOP candidate policy proposals is telling as to the utter failure of our political discourse.

Posted by: zukermand | December 18, 2007 10:56 AM | Report abuse

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