Huck-a-world: How Mike Huckabee remade his image, not his views

2:22 pm - March 19th 2011

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Guest post by Michael C. Tracey.

In 2008, the Republican Party came precariously close to nominating Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and Baptist minister, as its presidential nominee. After conservative evangelicals propelled the friendly preacher to victory in the Iowa caucus, opinion polls showed him leading the pack nationwide.

Religious fervor is less pronounced in New Hampshire, the site of the next contest, where Huck was expected to flounder — so pundits prophesied that South Carolina would be the true test of his electoral viability. But the theocratic vote there fractured, allowing John McCain to squeak out a four point win and relegating Huckabee to tag-along candidate status for the rest of the primaries. He ultimately finished in second place.

But there was no despair in Huck-a-world. The exposure allowed him to launch new career as Surprisingly Affable Republican Media Personality, snagging a gig on Fox News and handsome speaking fees on the lecture circuit.

He demonstrated an ability to sit for good-natured television interviews, he defended Michelle Obama’s anti-obesity initiative when fellow Republicans got a little overzealous about it, and he occasionally plays the bass along with musical guests on his Sunday evening talk show. Polls suggest he’s the most popular potential GOP candidate for 2012. What could go wrong?

Well, like many other socially conservative politicians, Huckabee often appears on Christian media outlets where he’s liable to say things that might be unpalatable to a more general audience. Of Barack Obama’s childhood, Huckabee made this remark on American Family Radio a few weeks ago: “Most of us grew up going to boyscout meetings, not madrassas.” Not long before, he’d prompted a scuffle over Natalie Portman’s unmarried pregnancy and asserted that Obama grew up in Kenya. What happened to the wholesome, courteous underdog we once knew?

He never existed. I interviewed Huckabee when he visited my former university last year to deliver a $25,000 speech. My hunch that questions on LGBT issues might elicit the most interesting responses was borne out. He likened same-sex marriage to drug use and incest, dismissed gay adoptions as a misguided social experiment, and asserted that the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy should be kept in place because “it touches an extraordinarily small group of people.”

These are not the words of a kindhearted, empathetic man grappling with complicated moral issues. As Jonathan Rauch later observed, “Huckabee makes clear that he has not given the subject a moment’s thought, beyond his initial, frozen-in-amber reaction-one which consists not of a reasoned argument but of a tone of contempt.”

Huck later accused me of “grossly distorting” his responses, so I simply released the audio of our interview, which corroborated everything in the original article. Rachel Maddow covered the incident with her customary acerbity.

In the same way that he attempted to disingenuously weasel his way out of the recent Kenya comments, Huckabee’s damage-control strategy was to cast doubt on my personal integrity instead of taking responsibility for the vileness of his comments.

All self-respecting Republicans should bemoan the fact that this man is their party’s most popular figure at the moment, and pray that God dissuades him from running next time around.

Michael can be found on Twitter here.

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Any prospect of a Huckabee Republican administration introducing scheduled damsel stoning in the foreseeable future and killing adulterers?

20 But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel:

21 then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die; because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father’s house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you.

22 If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel.

Deuteronomy 22:20-22

2. Texas Conservative

Mike Huckabee Steps up to the Plate, hits a Double and the Leftist Media Cries Foul

Mike Huckabee went on the Michael Medved radio show to promote his book, A Simple Government. In the second segment Huckabee explains why we have to change the way we spend money, why it is important to have more local government and less federal government, and why the family matters. He says,

“The most important form of government is a mother and father raising kids.”

“In the very first chapter of the book I quantify the costs of broken families. In this country, we have a 300 billion dollar a year Dad deficit. That is the amount of money taxpayers pay because fathers have disappeared from raising their kids and allowed some other taxpayer to pick up the financial costs.”

“When people make the argument that the family thing does not matter and we need to focus on the economy, you can’t focus on the economy if you don’t focus on the stability of families where mothers and fathers raise their own kids.”

Then Medved jumps in with the whole Oscar night Natalie Portman question. Four minutes into the second segment of the show Medved says, “She is very visibly pregnant. It’s a problem-they are not married, before 2 billion people, says she wants to thank her love, he has given me the most wonderful gift. The best kind of gift would be a wedding ring. It just seems to me that sending that kind of message is problematic.”

Well there you go, Medved is clearly upset about Portman. But Huckabee is not upset. In fact, he never brought up the topic. He did answer the question stating that it was unfortunate that we glorify and glamorize the idea of out of wedlock children. Huckabee quantifies with statistics: “75% of African American kids are born out of wedlock. 61% of Hispanic kids. 41% across the board live births are out of wedlock births and the costs are staggering.”

In today’s Dallas Morning News an article called Expecting to Fail by Gerry Garibaldi, talks about this exact issue. The picture on the page is of a school girl, visibly pregnant, asleep at her desk. The author of the piece talks about No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top initiatives and how they do little good when there is no moral accountability. He states that Personal Moral Accountability is the electrified rail that no politician want to touch.

Well this week one potential presidential candidate did touch upon that subject-stating that there is a Dad deficit in our country-that not only hurts the children (social issue) but also the pocket book of every single tax payer (economic issue). He stepped up to the plate and answered the question, only to be lambasted by every liberal talk show host and journalist.

Later in the article the author goes on to say “Within my lifetime, single parenthood has been transformed from shame to saintliness. In our society, perversely, we celebrate the unwed mother as a heroic figure, like a fireman or a police officer. During the last presidential election, much was made of Obama’s mother, who was a single parent. Movie stars and pop singers flaunt their daddy-less babies like fishing trophies.” The author, a teacher, asks his student to do research on unwed mothers, the statistics they find are frightening: “From the FBI: 63% of all suicides are individuals from single-parent households. From the Centers for Disease Control: 75 percent of adolescents in chemical-dependency hospitals come from single-parent households. From the Children’s Defense Fund: More than half of all youths incarcerated for criminal acts come from single-parent households. and so on.”

I listened to Mike Huckabee’s answer. I didn’t hear any slam about Portman. I heard a well versed author talk about the statistics that he had just uncovered writing his book. I heard a potential candidate talk about how both the fiscal and the social issues are important. And I heard a concerned person talk about the state of our country.

It has been interesting to watch and listen to those in the media, radio and blogosphere spin their tale about Mike Huckabee. I ask the question, do you want a president who answers the questions that he is asked or do you want someone who hides behind the spin?

Candidate Barack Obama when asked at the Saddleback forum at what stage of development does the baby have legal rights? His answer was to say that it was above his paygrade.

Do you want a President who avoids questions, two steps around the answer, is only comfortable answering “questions” off a teleprompter, has his press secretary give you a bunch of spin, won’t commit on a position, can’t say who the enemy is or do you want a President who gives you the honest, somber truth?

I want a president who is not afraid to step up to the plate and swing. When you hold the office of the presidency, you do not know what financial, foreign policy, or social crisis will hit on your watch. It could be a curve ball, a fast ball, or a wild throw by the pitcher. But you have to have the courage to take any ball that is thrown your way. Mike Huckabee steps up to the plate every time he has an interview. He will talk about any subject that is asked of him. He gives a straightforward, honest answer. Whether you like it or not, Americans deserve to hear the truth.

The deficit needs to be cut. Medicare/Medicaid/Social Security have to be reformed. The Radical Islamic Terrorists who threaten our way of life need to be eliminated. And in today’s Sunday morning paper, ironically a former Hollywood executive/screenwriter turned English teacher in an urban city school in Connecticut asks the question: What to do about the teen pregnancy problem?

Sounds like listening to Mike Huckabee could be the answer.

With all these earthquakes and tsunamis in recent years, we don’t seem to be hearing quite as much as we used to about creationism and intelligent design.

He can’t match up to the glory of Newt Ginrich. The family values candidate whose had more marriages than I’ve had haircuts.

@2 Texas Conservative

“Sounds like listening to Mike Huckabee could be the answer.”

If a deeply unpleasant individual like him is the answer, it must have been a spectacularly stupid question.

Paert of me really hopes that the GOP is actually mad enough to go for someone like Huckabee or Palin… because the prospect of either of them as President ought to scare the bejeezus out of everyone. Lets’ face it, George W. Bush was a mediocrity who at least had the intelligence to know he was second rate….. characters like these aren’t even that self aware.

Apparently he is looking forward to duck shooting when he gets to heaven. Even when they get to heaven they are gun obsessed. Huckabee ticks a lot of the GOP boxes and the birther stuff will have done him no harm in the eyes of the crazies. Could be overtaken by Romney if he wakes up one morning and discovers he is really a born again rather than a Mormon. The GOP nomination contenders really does look a lamentable field. Any reasonable candidates who could actually win and the GOP establishment could get behind would be unacceptable to the swivel-eyed base.

Find a social conservative.
Interview social conservative.
Express shock that social conservative is socially conservative.
Keep expressing shock until career wanes.

He plays bass tho so he’s got to be one of the good guys

@2 How exactly does Mr Huckabee propose to solve this “Dad deficit”?

Because it looks awfully like he’s just blown a few dog whistles without actually offering any solutions to these apparent “problems”, stating a frank opinion ? coming up with a solution.
(Excepting perhaps “marriage is good m’kay”, course I’m betting his position on same-sex marriage isn’t going to be equally in favour somehow.)

@9 Bah. I put a ‘does not equal’ sign in there and everything, and yet it came up as a question mark.
chuffing unsupported symbols *grumbles*

He didn’t come second, he came third, behind Mitt Romney

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