The deadly danger of Christian forgiveness 2

The good news that the Democrats are dropping rapidly in voters’ approval is tempered for us by the bad news that of  the visible Republican 2012 presidential candidates, Mike Huckabee heads the list. We see him as good-natured but dangerously naive. His religious belief is as ingenuous as that of a small child. True, Sarah Palin’s is too, but she has many qualities that made her a strong governor and could make her an effective future leader.

A former member of Huckabee’s 2008 campaign, Joe Carter, confirms our view of him. Slightly to our surprise we found this at First Things, a Christian site:

The tragic murders of four policemen in Washington State, quickly turned into a political story when it was discovered that former governor and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee had previously commuted the sentence of the gunman [Maurice Clemmons], making him eligible for parole.

Normally, I wouldn’t have much to say on such story. But because I have some familiarity with the backstory — I worked for a brief time for the Huckabee campaign — and because it has implications for the role of religion in politics, I thought it might be worth sharing my perspective.

Reflections on a politician by former campaign staffers should always be taken cum grano salis. This is no exception. While I’m still a fan of the governor I don’t believe he — nor anyone else from the 2008 primary season (from Palin to Romney to Giuliani to Paul) — has any chance of ever becoming President. Because of this, I don’t feel the need to either defend or condemn him. While the tragic chain of events that were set in place by his signing commutations are not entirely — or even primarily — the fault of the governor, he must bear a sufficient measure of responsibility. …

On the issue of clemency, commutations, and pardons. … Other governors with their sights set on higher offices had learned that doing nothing — even to correct obvious instances of injustice — was unlikely to cause any long-term political damage. Keeping an innocent man in prison is less harmful to an ambitious politician than freeing someone who may commit other crimes.

Huckabee would certainly discover this political reality the hard way. Initially, I chalked it up solely to extraordinary political courage. Later, I tempered this view when I realized that this courage was mixed with a large dose of cluelessness. The governor seemed genuinely surprised that he was held responsible for the criminal acts committed by those whose sentences he had commuted as governor. It was as if he believed that simply having noble intentions and a willingness to make tough decisions would provide political cover. The notion that he should be accountable for future crimes committed by these men seemed as foreign to him as the idea that he should refuse all leniency.

His naivete about how his actions would be judged was compounded by his own belief in the nobleness of his motives. Huckabee was — and likely remains — a true believer in the concept of restorative justice.

Judging from the records, the governor also seemed to put a lot of weight on conversion stories — a common trait among evangelicals, who believe the gospel is sufficient for restoration and redemption of character. The opinion of clergy appears to have carried a great deal of weight in the decision-making process. …

Palin for tax cuts 0

Here are passages from the speech Sarah Palin delivered in  Hong Kong on September 23 at the CLSA [Credit Lyonnais Securities Asia] Pacific Markets Conference, taken from excerpts published by the Wall Street Journal. More of the speech can be found here:

We got into this [economic] mess because of government interference in the first place. The mortgage crisis that led to the collapse of the financial market, it was rooted in a good-natured, but wrongheaded, desire to increase home ownership among those who couldn’t yet afford to own a home. In so many cases, politicians on the right and the left, they wanted to take credit for an increase in home ownership among those with lower incomes. But the rules of the marketplace are not adaptable to the mere whims of politicians…

Lack of government wasn’t the problem. Government policies were the problem. The marketplace didn’t fail. It became exactly as common sense would expect it to. The government ordered the loosening of lending standards. The Federal Reserve kept interest rates low. The government forced lending institutions to give loans to people who, as I say, couldn’t afford them. Speculators spotted new investment vehicles, jumped on board and rating agencies underestimated risks…

If you want real job growth, you cut taxes! And you reduce marginal tax rates on all Americans. Cut payroll taxes, eliminate capital gain taxes and slay the death tax, once and for all. Get federal spending under control, and then you step back and you watch the U.S. economy roar back to life. But it takes more courage for a politician to step back and let the free market correct itself than it does to push through panicky solutions or quick fixes…

I can’t wait until we get that Reaganomics sense supplied again because we are going to survive, and we’re going to thrive and expand and roar back to life. And as the world sees this, the world will be a healthier, more secure, safer and more prosperous place when this happens…

Right now we have the highest unemployment rate in 25 years, and it’s still rising. And yet some in D.C. are pushing a cap-and-tax bill that could cripple our energy industry or energy market and dramatically increase the rates of the unemployed, and that’s not just in the energy sector. American jobs in every industry will be threatened by the rising cost of doing business under this cap-and-tax plan. The cost of farming will certainly increase. That’s going to drive up the cost of groceries and drive down farm incomes. The cost of manufacturing, warehousing and transportation will also rise. We are all going to feel the effects. The Americans hardest hit will be those who are already struggling to make ends meet today, much less with this new tax every month…

With most of this we agree. We only don’t believe that people like Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Barney Frank, and Chris Dodd  wanted to increase house ownership among those who couldn’t afford it out of good nature. We judge them less generously. We think they wanted to redistribute wealth and increase the power of government.

At present Palin seems to us to be not only the most charismatic of the Republicans who might be in the 2012 presidential race, but also, to judge by these remarks, one who might rescue the economy.