Governor Mike Huckabee’s Simple Government: Twelve Things We Really Need from Washington (and a Trillion That We Don’t) will be released on George Washington’s birthday, February 22nd.

Of twelve chapters, one is devoted exclusively to border security and immigration policy.  There Huckabee uses statistic after statistic to show that Barack Obama has reduced border security and reminds us that the president stopped building the fence.   But it isn’t just illegal immigration that Huckabee tackles.  In fact, it is immigration policy that elicits Huckabee to use a quote from George Washington. We as a nation have the right and duty to encourage only the kind of immigrants that will benefit us, and quotes Washington saying that we don’t need to encourage immigration “except of useful mechanics and some particular descriptions of men or professions”.   Throughout the book it is clear that Huckabee is his own man.  The fact that we should only allow certain kinds of immigrants, isn’t politically correct, but it is Huckabee’s position.

As I show in this review, Huckabee doesn’t shy away from controversy and we get some policy ideas we hadn’t heard before.  It is clear from the beginning, Huckabee is not playing politics as usual.

The very first chapter answers the charge that social conservatives are inimical to smaller government, forcing some into thinking they have to become libertarians to be consistent.  Not so.  He shows that focusing on social issues will reduce the reach of government because “the so-called dad deficit added more than $300 billion to the national deficit in 2010 because of welfare payments to moms.”   This is his pastor’s call to point out that without morality no amount of government can rescue us from our problems.  Government can’t fix what ails us, though if often contributes to that sickness.  Known for memorable zingers, his best line in that chapter is “beware the government bearing gifts, because every one of them comes with strings attached. Over time those strings grow into heavy chains”.

Chapter two discusses local government and state government, and Huckabee makes the case that the closer to home the government, the more accountable it can be held.

In the first quarter of 2009, for the first time in our history, the federal government became the largest source of revenue for state and local governments.   Almost prescient about the current happenings in Wisconsin, Huckabee reminds his readers how President Obama basically blackmailed Arnold Schwarzenegger by threatening to take away stimulus money from California unless he gave into demands of the public employee’s union SEIU.   When states grow dependent on federal aid, all kinds of bad things happen: the federal response to the BP oil spill in the gulf is given as a prime example.

He takes a shot at getting more government involvement in health care and says that while states have the right to experiment:  “We were to learn from RomneyCare, not Xerox it into federal law”

There is not a lot new in the health care chapter that he has not said already.   He believes the bigger problem is poor health and not health care.  Third payer parties in health treatment are the reason costs are so high for treatment. Huckabee wants a return to the original purpose of insurance: covering catastrophic illnesses.

The lion’s share is devoted to foreign policy, diplomacy, and the fight against terrorism.   He also answers the charge that he is a liberal who is too chummy with Obama.      

Since foreign policy took such a back seat during the 2008 election cycle, Governor Huckabee’s approach to it is not as well known, and he therefore devotes three chapters to it in the book. In the first of these chapters on the bullies of terrorism, he castigates Obama for downplaying both the whole notion of terrorism in general and Islamic fascism in particular.   In particular, the Obama administration has refused to tie the shootings of our soldiers (and an unborn child) at Fort Hood to terrorism.  Also, it seems the bureaucracies that slow down our efforts still exist and the focus is only on terrorism “over there”.

Huckabee believes we’ve forgotten the lessons of both 1993 (the first World Trace Center bombings) and September 11th.   The most moving part of the book (can a policy book be moving!) was when Huckabee draws on the memory of 9/11 hero Rick Rescorla.  Years of preparedness between 1993 and 2001 helped Rescorla rescue hundreds of Morgan Stanley workers from the World Trade Center.  It is that kind of foresightedness and diligence we need as a nation.

In the name of political correctness we have hamstrung our military, putting our soldiers at greater risk by emphasizing “winning the hearts and minds” of the enemy rather than “killing people and breaking things?”   In Iraq and Afghanistan, our men and women in uniform have spent too much time building schools and not enough time seeking out and killing Islamic extremists.  Huckabee implies we need greater number of recruits in our ranks, not less, as is the current plan.  We come to rely too heavily on National Guard.  And he goes after Obama’s foolish timeline.

Huckabee makes clear one position.   One section is called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell…Don’t Serve” (DADTDS) and while DADT was bad, its abolition makes things worse. We should have never allowed the recruitment of homosexuals to the military in the first place.  In 1993 it was not allowed until Bill Clinton brought us DADT.  It  destroys morale and particularly offends conservatives who serve in the military.  This includes the brass, too.

Another criticism of Huckabee is that he is afraid to criticize Obama, as if they were best buds.   But in Simple Government, Governor Huckabee takes him on full throttle, especially in the area of diplomacy.   There is lots of bad news when it comes to Obama’s “smart diplomacy.” Our enemies not only don’t get along with us, they mock us at every turn.    Obama insults our allies, too, as Huckabee reminds us of the incident at the beginning of his administration when Obama sent back the bust of Winston Churchill that was given to us by the British.   He thinks that Obama is more concerned about his own history than the history of our own great nation.  Huckabee is a strong believer in American Exceptionalism which Obama rejects it out of hand. Huckabee points out that when other nations build border fences it is usually to keep people from running away, we have to build one to keep them from flooding in.   There is one positive for Obama’s foreign policy, though:

“Among nations that are traditionally anti-American, President Obama still enjoys high approval ratings.  Why am I not surprised?”

After describing Obama’s suggestion that we don’t need to instill fear in the rest of the world, Huckabee asks” why not?”

“Theodore Roosevelt believed that the way to command the world’s respect was to “speak softly and carry a big stick”.  Other presidents have chosen to speak loudly and carry a big stick.   But this is the first president who believes you can command the respect of rogue nations by apologizing and throwing away the stick”.

There is a lengthy discussion of Obama’s rude treatment of Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and his abandonment of many policies in support of Israel that date back decades.  Particularly, the idea that Israel can’t build settlements is disdained.

Chapter three deals with deficit spending and is entitled “You Can’t Spend What You Don’t Have”.  He argues that we should abolish the rule that say cuts to certain kinds of spending are off-limits.  He suggests that all spending be considered discretionary and he is not afraid to tackle the so-called the third-rail of politics, Social Security.   It was not initially intended to be used for long retirements because payments didn’t kick in until after the age of life expectancy which was about 60 in 1935.

There is a lot more here.   See other reviews of the the book.


The book is a fairly quick read with those wanting more depth encouraged to research the ample footnotes, arranged by page in a simple format.   There is plenty of news in here, and plenty of controversy.   But I don’t think you will find any political posturing.   He simply tells us the way he sees it, in simple terms.

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