A little man in search of a balcony: Mike Huckabee, practitioner of pseudo-Christian statism.
The gang at Fox & Friends was happily engaged in their familiar morning routine – applying a glaze of insipid cheerfulness to their network's authoritarian partisanship – when one of them made the mistake of asking Rep. Ron Paul about a campaign ad produced by a rival presidential aspirant, Mike Huckabee.
If the object of that odd query was to solicit a trite soundbite it was the wrong question to ask, and the wrong person of whom to ask it, given Dr. Paul's unflinching candor. Rather than indulging in the expected morning show banter, Dr. Paul offered this assessment of the Huckabee ad, in which the former Arkansas Governor, bathed in beatific light and flattered by the camera's soft focus, appears to have a cross floating over his shoulder:
"It reminds me of what Sinclair Lewis once said. He says, 'when fascism comes to this country, it will be wrapped in the flag, carrying a cross.' Now I don't know whether that's a fair assessment or not, but you wonder about using a cross, like he is the only Christian or implying that subtly. So, I don't think I would ever use anything like that."
By vowing never to use “anything like that” Dr. Paul was not foreswearing the use of Christian imagery in his campaign materials. He was effectively promising never to depict himself as the embodiment of Christian virtues and as God's anointed vessel of political redemption. That's a conceit that Huckabee embraced when he publicly attributed his recent political good fortune to the power of the One who miraculously multiplied the loaves and fishes to feed the hungry multitudes.
But it was Dr. Paul's boldness in using the “F-word” that caused his hosts at Fox & Friends to suffer a brief fit of the vapors. It's not as if the inhabitants of the Fox News Universe are unfamiliar with the term; it's just that they have been programmed to assume that it can only be used in a purely historical context unless it follows the prefix “Islamo-.” The morning show pixies were pixilated that Dr. Paul would apply that term to a fellow Republican, even – or perhaps especially – one as deserving as Mike Huckabee.
Huckabee's "cross" wasn't the first artfully staged GOP photo-op.
Let there be no mistake: Huckabee, like every other major Republican presidential candidate save Dr. Paul, is unambiguously a fascist. He is an ardent supporter of the welfare/warfare/homeland security state and all of its works and pomps. His objective is to expand, not to diminish, the power of the State.
And Huckabee has displayed a perfectly abhorrent enthusiasm for State-sanctioned bloodshed: It was Huckabee who insisted that although the Iraq war was misbegotten, the “honor” of the government requires that the killing continue for the indefinite future. Just this morning (December 19), Huckabee expressed the view that Washington has used “underwhelming” force in Iraq, when victory requires overkill. And in reacting to a recent ad from the polyurethane candidate Mitt Romney, Huckabee boasted that he had signed sixteen death warrants as the Arkansas chief executive, "more than any other governor in my state's history."
That last fact offers a telling contrast between Dr. Paul (who was an obstetrician) and Rev. Huckabee. Dr. Paul's campaign literature highlights his role in bringing thousands of new lives into the world; Huckabee takes conspicuous pride in presiding over the execution of more than a dozen people. Even those who support the death penalty (a position I can't understand, given the corruption and viciousness of the Regime that rules us) should agree that trading on the death of human beings, even those who “deserved” it, for political advantage is entirely depraved.*
Here's the difference: Unlike other politicians, when Ron Paul admires a baby, he's not looking on the child as merely a future taxpayer or coffin-stuffer.
Celebrating the State's power over life and death is a familiar fascist theme, but not one exclusive to fascism. The same is true of the cynical co-mingling of politics and religion. To understand why Republican statists like Huckabee deserve the description “fascist” it's useful to review the analysis offered by John T. Flynn in his 1944 book As We Go Marching.
As a critic of the New Deal and one-time leader of the America First movement, Flynn was effectively blacklisted from the prestige press on the orders of FDR. Such obscurity was both frustrating and liberating, since a consummated threat no longer has the power to paralyze its target. Freed from worrying about the consequences of tactless truth-telling (for there is none so free as someone with nothing to lose), Flynn used As We Go Marching to dissect and document the kindred relationship between German National Socialism, Italian Fascism, and the American equivalent that had its origins in the New Deal and was brought to malignant maturity during the war.
While stinting not at all in his loathing for Hitler and Mussolini, Flynn quite properly pointed out that “good fascists” like FDR and his clique represented a far more immediate threat to American liberty. As if specifically foretelling Mike Huckabee, Flynn also predicted that the future would bring those devoted to “the impossible task of purging fascism of its ugly features, cleaning it up, offering us a polite, religious, democratic fascism.” (Emphasis added.)
Flynn's brief description of fascism was a dictatorial political system “in which the government assumes responsibility for creating adequate purchasing power through the instrumentality of national debt and in which militarism is adopted as a great economic project for creating work as well as a great romantic project in the service of the imperialist state.”
What Flynn describes here was known – until the phrase became an embarrassment – as “National Greatness Conservatism.”
Flynn went on to list eight defining “devices” of the fascist system, however labeled and in whatever country it has taken root:
* “A government whose powers are unrestrained” -- what, if any, are the limits on government power currently recognized by Republicans?
* "A leader who is a dictator, absolute in power but responsible to the party which is a preferred elite";
*An economy in which property is privately owned, but politically controlled;
* The all-encompassing influence of “great government bureaus which have the power to make regulations or directives with the force of law”;
* The “socialization of investment” through “comprehensive integration of government and finances” -- a characteristic that has become quite salient during the era of Bush the Lesser;
*The creation of “streams of purchasing power by federal government borrowing and spending as a permanent institution” -- once again, a process that has thrived under the reign of "Borrow-and-Bomb" Bush;
*Militarism as an all-pervasive cultural attitude, and the military as a pillar of the industrial economy;
*Imperialism as the organizing principle of national life, whether overtly embraced or tacitly understood, with the population constantly presented “with some national crusade or adventure on the heroic model touching deeply the springs of chauvinistic pride, interest, and feeling.”
"Where these elements are found," concluded Flynn, "there is fascism, by whatever name the system is called.”
Apropos of Flynn's final point – the central role of “heroic” national crusades in a fascist political system -- it's worth noting that Huckabee recently told the New York Times that (in the paper's paraphrase) “the next president of the United States will have to lead Western civilization in a worldwide conflict with radical Islam.”
Huckabee, like Romney and Giuliani, doesn't see the president's role as one of seeking to mitigate conflicts, but rather that of maximizing them. He believes in subordinating the rights and interests of the individual to the power of the State and the ambitions of the political class; he assumes that the lives and property of Americans (not to mention those foreigners who would be on the receiving end of his belligerent piety) would be his to dispose of in whatever grandiose ventures “God” lays on his heart.
Were he a genuinely Christian statesman, Huckabee would recognize that our government for decades has eagerly courted Ruin, and Ruin is about to grant the government's entreaties. He would understand, and tell the truth about, the economic consequences of Washington's imperial foreign policy, and demand immediate and dramatic changes to it.
Changes will come, as the value of our currency evaporates and foreign coalitions take shape to rein in Washington's arrogant adventurism. It would be more desirable, of course, for change to come on terms favorable to individual freedom and national independence, but this would require a measure of humility foreign to the make-up of those who embrace pseudo-Christian statism.
The version of “Christian” statecraft that has prevailed under Bush II, and that would be taken up by Huckabee, has no use for truth and justice: It is preoccupied entirely with power – the power to conduct aggressive war; to order and carry out torture and indefinite detention; to bend the law to the whim of the Chief Executive; to confer material blessings on the powerful and privileged through government redistribution, both vulgar (as in the Iraqi "reconstruction" effort) and subtle (through monetary inflation).
This is what is hiding in the shadow of Huckabee's cross. And that's why only an authentic Christian statesman had the wisdom to perceive it, and the boldness to call it by its proper name.
Dum spiro, pugno!