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Out of Huck

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Out of Huck
The national pundits seem to believe that Mike Huckabee's move to Florida is more about presidential politics than tax avoidance, but they may be unaware of Huckabee's aversion to parting with his own money, his fondness for getting things for free. Florida haberdashers and sporting-goods stores will soon be learning about that.

Arkansans can easily believe that hanging on to more of the big bucks Fox News pays him is sufficient to lure Huckabee to a state with much sunshine and no income tax. But it's possible that he's multi-tasking, solicitous of both his billfold and his political opportunities, and in that case, we worry. For him.

He didn't ask the Times — we seem to have drifted apart — but if he had, we'd have advised against this move, and not just because Arkansas is a better place to live. Our insects are of a manageable size, and so too is our Republican party. Huckabee is always at his worst when he gets around big bunches of far-right Republicans, too weak to resist their evil importunities. Such people are rife in Florida, and the state is crucial to the party's hopes for winning the presidency.

In Arkansas, Huckabee as governor worked with a Democratic legislature to produce a reasonably moderate and productive administration. He's been apologizing ever since. Seeking the Republican presidential nomination, Huckabee has courted the Religious Right passionately, and with some success. Militant televangelists have warmed up to their fellow preacher, shedding their suspicion that he might be somewhat lacking in bias. He's taken up gay-bashing, bloodily and enthusiastically. He's renounced the progressive principle that taxation should be based on ability to pay, and now supports a national sales tax that would be good for the rich and near-fatal for the poor. He's raised the volume on his condemnation of abortion rights.

In short, he's been in steep moral decline, a worse man now than when Arkansas first elected him. He was never Nobel Prize material, to be sure, but he wasn't a Dick Cheney or Ann Coulter either. He hangs with them now.

A recent presidential poll showed Huckabee leading his chief rival, Mitt Romney, in Florida. But what good is the presidency if you lose your own soul? Huckabee won't find salvation in Florida. Nor Florida in him, for that matter.

The athletic Mrs. Huckabee, on the other hand, looks like a good fit for Florida. Maybe she and Mike could work something out on living arrangements. Wrestling alligators, swimming in synchrony, playing a spirited game of beach volleyball, Janet would give a good account of herself. And the worst she could lose would be a limb or two.

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