Leader Blues

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

EDITORIAL >>Palin, Huck a lot alike

While making the rounds of the media promoting his new book about his presidential race and beyond, Mike Huckabee has drawn more attention to his churlishness about his Republican opponents, the media and religious conservatives who did not support him. This week it was Sarah Palin who drew his wrath or, maybe more accurately, the man who picked her and the people who criticized Huckabee but gave her a pass.

Huckabee’s peevishness about his defeat still seems jarringly out of season. Even Mitt Romney, the chief object of his scorn, was willing to forgive and forget, turning aside invitations to rebut the Arkansan’s attacks. But on Sarah Palin we must concede that Huckabee had some good points. He thought he was at least as qualified as the Alaska governor to be John McCain’s running mate.

At first he told an interviewer with New Yorker magazine, “She, uh, was an appropriate choice because she put John McCain back in the game.” Then he thought better of it.

“I was scratching my head, saying ‘Hey, wait a minute. She’s wonderful, but the only difference was she looks better in stilettos than I do, and she has better hair.’ It wasn’t so much a gender issue, but it was like they suddenly decided that everything they disliked about me was O.K. . . She was given a pass by some of the very people who said I wasn’t prepared.”

Yes, the two did have so much in common: their opposition to abortion, gay marriage, evolution and science, their evangelical creed and also their records governing small (population) states.

Their records in public office both contrasted sharply with the images they proffered for the national audience, as fierce foes of taxes, spending and big government. Huckabee raised more taxes, grew the government more and piled up more public debt than any governor in Arkansas history. Palin raised a big excess-profits tax on Alaska energy companies, multiplied government payments to individuals and, as mayor of the town of Wasilla, raised taxes and accumulated more debt than in all the city’s history.

She sought more federal pork per capita than any governor in the nation. Both had ethical troubles over the use of the government to settle personal quarrels and in tapping the state treasury for personal benefit. Palin drew a daily travel allowance nearly all the days of her tenure because she lived at home and not the state capital. Huckabee used the governor’s mansion fund as a personal piggy bank. Huckabee had 10 ½ years as governor, she only 18 months.

So why would John McCain pick her and not him? We think he’s right. It was the heels and the hair.