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CPAC: Huckabee Calls Us to a Revitalized Conservatism, With Catchphrases

6:00 PM, Feb 26, 2009 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
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Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas governor cum candidate cum Fox News host, spoke on the first day of CPAC, using his considerable communication skills to bring the audience through a 30-minute vision of the revitalization of the Republican Party, on everything from nuclear energy to health care.

And, judging by his speech, the Huckabee revolution will be word-smithed and catch-phrased, aggressively. After an oddly off-color opening joke, which finished with- I kid you not- a teacher tasting puppy piddle, Huckabee called for "family conservatives," "fiscal conservatives," and "freedom conservatives" to come together as "compentent conservatives."

Employing the Obama-style couplet he urged "deliberation over desperation" and "prudence over panic" in financial crises, reiterating his opposition to the first bank bailout in 2008. The stimulus bill became the "Congressional Recovery Action Plan," because "we all know it's pure Congressional Recovery Action Plan and smells like Congressional Recovery Action Plan." He renamed pork-filled stimulus and spending bills, "Confessions of a Shopaholic."

As for conservatives, they are called to be "vertical politicians" and "vertical patriots," who don't worry about what moves Americans right or left, but what moves them up and down. In so doing, the party can earn the votes of the broad middle class, because if we "lose that connection, we lose the election."

Invoking Katrina as a metaphor for the party's decline, he said it must once again become "the party of a shining city on a hill, not the party of the ruined city in the sea."

On regulation, Republicans must be the "party of just right," not allowing overzealous regulation or deregulation to endanger the Goldilockses of America.

The Republican Party, he said, must communicate that it is the party that believes opportunity in America is a "ladder," not a "stepstool." It believes in life as a "World Series," where the exceptional are allowed to shine, benefiting everyone; not "tee ball," where everyone is forced to play on the same level.

You know what I say? Yes, we can, as soon as we sort out all these metaphors.