Peggy Noonan, former Reagan speech-writer and author whose most recent book was a biography of Pope John Paul II, has written an excellent piece for the Wall Street Journal. With the rise of Mike Huckabee running as a “Christian leader” as opposed to a leader who just happens to be a Christian, Noonan wonders if the Gipper would have been able to be nominated in the current climate in the GOP.

Christian conservatives have been rising, most recently, for 30 years in national politics, since they helped elect Jimmy Carter. They care about the religious faith of their leaders, and their interest is legitimate. Faith is a shaping force. Lincoln got grilled on it. But there is a sense in Iowa now that faith has been heightened as a determining factor in how to vote, that such things as executive ability, professional history, temperament, character, political philosophy and professed stands are secondary, tertiary.

But they are not, and cannot be. They are central. Things seem to be getting out of kilter, with the emphasis shifting too far.

The great question: Does it make Mr. Huckabee, does it seal his rise, that he has acted in such a manner? Or does it damage him? Republicans on the ground in Iowa and elsewhere will decide that. And in the deciding they may be deciding more than one man’s future. They may be deciding if Republicans are becoming a different kind of party.

I wonder if our old friend Ronald Reagan could rise in this party, this environment. Not a regular churchgoer, said he experienced God riding his horse at the ranch, divorced, relaxed about the faiths of his friends and aides, or about its absence. He was a believing Christian, but he spent his adulthood in relativist Hollywood, and had a father who belonged to what some saw, and even see, as the Catholic cult. I’m just not sure he’d be pure enough to make it in this party. I’m not sure he’d be considered good enough.

If “Tax Hike” Mike Huckabee is what it means to be a Conservative in the Republican Party today, then Conservatism is truly dead and buried.

Much like Rush Limbaugh remarked a few weeks ago, as a Goldwater/Reagan Conservative, as somebody who believes in his very heart and soul that Conservatism is ultimately the best philosophy to guide our nation and ensure our freedom, liberty and ultimate survival — I find it very disheartening to be forced to bear witness to this radical redefining of what it means to be a Conservative.

Much like radical leftists have hijacked the term liberal and completely redefined what it has always meant, the religious right’s 30-year-long war to hijack the term Conservative and redefine its meaning is dangerously close to being completed, and will be finalized, if Mike Huckabee were to become the Republican Presidential Candidate.

While Mike Huckabee is indeed a Republican, he is most definitely not a Conservative, by any sense of the word. The extreme religious right seemingly adores him because of his socially conservative views, but those so-called socially conservative views not only do not make Huckabee even remotely a Conservative — they go against everything it means to be a Conservative.

This 30 year war waged by the religious right on Conservatism embraces the leftist viewpoint that we as a society have a duty to help the poor, but takes it one step further by stating that it is not just a “duty” but a “moral obligation.” That is at best George W. Bush’s so-called brand of “compassionate conservatism,” which itself is not really derivative of truly Conservative principles. This ideology is a far cry from the Goldwater/Reagan principles of smaller government, individual responsibility and personal freedom.

I somehow cannot see Mike Huckabee make the same kind of statement as Ronald Reagan did during his first inaugural address when he said, “Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem.”

If Mike Huckabee wins the Republican nomination for President, instead of getting ourselves another Ronald Reagan type as Conservatives have been longing for since the Gipper left office— we will be getting a candidate whom in every single fiber of his being is the opposite of Ronald Reagan and is in fact the Republican version of the man Reagan saved the country from in defeating him for the Presidency, Jimmy Carter.

While there will never be another Ronald Reagan, there is one guy who comes the closest to filling those boots, and it has nothing to do with the fact that he is an actor, but with the fact that whenever he opens his mouth and talks about ideas and potential policies — he is the only candidate who sounds like Reagan and the man who two decades before him sparked the Conservative movement in the GOP, Barry Goldwater — that man is Fred Dalton Thompson, the only Conservative candidate running.

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