Huckabee should deliver a jeremiad lambasting Washington for its role in fostering the housing collapse and the Great Recession. He should hammer home how the government precipitated economic calamity by juicing up the housing market, and turning housing policy into a taxpayer-funded vehicle for vote-buying. And Huckabee should not hesitate to use the recent words of federal judge Jed Rakoff, who was appointed by Bill Clinton to the federal bench to make his point.
In Rakoff’s telling, “in the year 2000, HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo increased to 50 percent the percentage of low-income mortgages that the government-sponsored entities known as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were required to purchase, helping to create the conditions that resulted in over half of all mortgages being subprime at the time the housing market began to collapse in 2007.” The judge leaves no doubt as to who is to blame.
Still, playing on resentments has its limits. Criticizing Natalie Portman for first becoming a mother and then a wife—as Huckabee did in 2011—is bad politics. According to the Pew Research Center, single mothers make up one in four households with children under 18; and, as Chris Cilizza of The Washington Post notes, they vote overwhelmingly Democratic.
So Huckabee needs to show some non-judgmental leg on modernity, and going after Portman is not the way to do it. Instead, he should also talk about launching a war on Alzheimer’s disease, as baby boomers now file through retirement. Just as FDR set in motion the March of Dimes to eradicate polio and Puritan minister Cotton Mather went after smallpox in early 18th-century Boston, Huckabee should make eliminating this malady a stated priority. If 2012 teaches the Republicans anything, it is that simply bashing Obamacare is not enough to get you to the White House.