Friday, November 12, 2010

A Challenge to Supporters of Mike Huckabee

The Republican presidential candidate in 2012 will be either Mitt Romney or Mike Huckabee.

As a liberal, I don’t care which one is chosen. Since Barack Obama’s views are closer to my own than those of the Republican Party, I already know that I’ll support his reelection.

As an American, however, I care very deeply about who wins the GOP’s most coveted prize. This is because, while Romney is merely a man with whom I disagree, Huckabee is something much worse – a man who poses a serious threat to this country.

First, though, let me explain why the nominee will be either Romney or Huckabee:

1) When Republican primary voters are polled as to their presidential preferences, the top four choices are always Romney, Huckabee, Sarah Palin, and Newt Gingrich. Not only does this quartet have a significant lead over all of the other hopefuls, but the financial requirements necessary to run a successful primary campaign are such that neither party has nominated someone who wasn’t in the top four by now since 1976. In short, the GOP’s pick will definitely be one of these individuals.

2) While Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin are both loved by the party’s base of grassroots conservatives, neither of them is capable of winning in a general election – and Republican primary voters are savvy enough to realize this. They may wish for a candidate who reflects their beliefs, but they also want to win, and that latter desire will be the downfall of Gingrich and Palin, thus leaving only Romney and Huckabee.

Romney will have a lot of advantages going into that contest, including an excellent business record that translates into strength on economic issues; a center-right image that will appeal to moderate Republicans in the primaries and independent voters in the general election; and a powerful fundraising apparatus. That said, his Mormonism and shakiness as a social conservative may hurt him with the Christian Right, while his responsibility for a health care reform bill in Massachusetts similar to the one passed by Obama could cost him among the Tea Party. If these things happen in such a way so as to deny Romney the nomination, Huckabee will be their beneficiary.

That is a thought that terrifies me, for the simple reason that America can’t afford the risk that Mike Huckabee will ever become president.


We can start with Wayne DuMond, an Arkansas man who was sentenced to thirty-nine years in prison (reduced from an initial life plus twenty years) after he brutally raped a seventeen-year-old girl. Because the evidence that he had committed this crime was irrefutable, normally his case wouldn’t have attracted any special attention.

However, there was a catch – unbeknownst to DuMond, the girl he’d raped was the third cousin of Bill Clinton.

This shouldn’t have made any difference. However, several right-wing extremists decided to spread rumors that DuMond was innocent, a claim that – despite its absolute and obvious falsehood – was embraced by overzealous Clinton-haters. Foremost among them was Mike Huckabee, who not only commuted DuMond’s sentence less than ten weeks after becoming governor, but even skirted federal law by tampering with the parole board (which had twice denied DuMond’s applications) so that it would decide in his favor.

Less than a year after DuMond was released, he raped another woman. This time, he also murdered her.

This may be the most abhorrent thing Huckabee has done, but it certainly isn’t the only one. He also has a history of sexism (1998 - he signs a full-page advertisement in USA Today saying that women should “submit graciously” to their husbands), racism (1993 - he speaks before a white supremacist group known as the Council of Conservative Citizens), and prejudice against Mormons (2008 - he claims that Mormons believe Jesus and Satan are brothers). The group for which he has reserved his worst bile are homosexuals, whose sexual orientation he has compared with incest, who he has claimed are committing moral sins comparable with lying and stealing, and whose ability to marry he argues would threaten the survival of civilization itself.

Finally, there is the danger that Huckabee poses to one of America’s most basic and important liberties – religious freedom, as protected by the separation of church and state.

From a speech delivered in his 2008 presidential campaign:

I believe it's a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God. And that's what we need to do — to amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards…

As a Jew, I know from personal experience what can happen as a result of such opinions. I can still remember being the child who was victimized by anti-Semitism – who had quarters thrown at his head and swastikas drawn on his textbooks, who was told by his friends that Jews worshipped the devil and were responsible for the death of Christ. I even remember being dragged into a lake by a group of my peers, although the part when they held my head under water and chanted “Drown the Jew” has, mercifully, been blotted from my memory.

Hence my response to Huckabee’s support of theocracy:

Religious institutions that use government power in support of themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths, or of no faith, undermine all our civil rights.

That line isn’t mine, by the way. It was written by Thomas Jefferson.

Now that we’re aware of what the Sage of Monticello would think of Mike Huckabee, only one question remains – what do you think of him? To anyone who has considered supporting him for president, have these facts changed your opinion?

This isn’t my challenge to you. This is America’s challenge to you.


Machtyn said...

Interesting points. As a conservative and Tea Party supporter, I agree that Huckabee is a terrible choice as the GOP nominee. First, Obama would run him to the ground like McCain. I agree that Palin and Gingrich, while putting in a respectable run in the primaries are unlikely to get the nomination. Though I think Palin has a better chance than Huckabee. Huckabee is definitely dangerous because of his commutations. Many very bad people have gotten out of prison because of him and have caused pain and grief because those bad guys have murdered after they got out.

I do have to disagree on two points. On the right wing sites, there are numerous posts and articles that detail exactly how Romney-care is essentially nothing like Obama-care. I'll leave the arguments to the reader to search those posts. Second, I can't believe that Romney's Mormonism will hurt him as bad this next time around. Why? Because many in the GOP and on the Christian right realized what a HUGE mistake it was not to support Romney and allow McCain to win by default.

Matthew Laszlo said...

1) Regardless of whether Romneycare was anything like Obamacare (and I agree that it wasn't, although I feel this isn't to its credit), the reality is that the ALLEGATION that there are similarities is what will matter in the primaries. Perception is reality in politics, and the fact that many right-wing diehards already have suspicions about Romney's conservative bona fides (due to his earlier positions on issues like abortion rights) will make them more susceptible to fault him for Romneycare than they would for a comparable set of programs by Huckabee or Palin.

2) I disagree that his Mormonism won't be a factor. It shouldn't be, but the evidence I've seen suggests that - as with most forms of bigotry - it will defy rational arguments that could be used against it.

Incidentally, I also don't think it would have made any difference whether the GOP had nominated Romney or McCain in 2008. Bush's unpopularity, when combined with the Wall Street crash in September of that year, guaranteed that whomever that party chose was going to be defeated.

Matthew Laszlo said...

PS: The Wayne DuMond commutation was far worse than all of the others because (a) it was clearly motivated by partisan politics rather than a genuine belief in the man's innocence and (b) Huckabee subverted the law in order to make it happen. His other pardons and clemency grants were legal and, to the best of my knowledge, sincere in their intent, both of which are important distinctions.

Crystalf said...

A very interesting read. I will admit that I am very conservative and became strongly involved in the "Tea Party Movement" at its inception; however, I found your article compelling on several fronts.

First, that you laid your thoughts out in an organized, unemotional manner which allows the reader to absorb your thoughts without becoming defensive as with many left-wing writers who seem many times to be so emotionally wrapped up in a cause that they become completely devoid of common sense and logic.

Second, your concerns seem to be based on sound facts as well as personal experience.

The one comment I will make has to do with your recent "PS" comment. While I believe the DuMond commutation was much worse, as you said, because of its political motivation .. and it would seem that Huckabee did the "wrong thing" deliberately, I think it is just as scary that the other commutations were done based on his truly being convinced that those people had had a spiritual change and were suddenly better people. This shows a severe lack of judgement which, I fear, is just as dangerous for a person who could have as much power as the President of the United States.

Thank you. I look forward to reading more from you.

Matthew Laszlo said...

To Crystalf:

I appreciate your kind words - although, of course, it is always easier to agree with someone who has a different point-of-view when they're supporting you!

It will be interesting to see what happens when the Republican primaries kick off twelve months hence. My suspicion is that:

A) Contrary to widespread speculation, Christie will not enter the race, as he is shrewd enough to realize that he doesn't have the fundraising apparatus to make such a move feasible.

B) As such, Huckabee will probably repeat his 2008 victory in the Iowa caucuses while Romney will score a decisive triumph in New Hampshire.

C) The race will thus quickly boil down to a contest between Huckabee and Romney.

As a liberal Democrat, I can tell you right now that I desperately want Huckabee to win that match-off. Even though the polls currently show him ahead of Obama (much as '88 polls had Dukakis ahead of Bush), the reality is that the Wayne DuMond story alone will be enough to sink his candidacy.

This isn't to say that Romney doesn't have his flaws; that said, if the economy doesn't improve, his business background will be an excellent selling point to the American public, while his overall image as a moderate will protect him from the charges of radicalism that can very easily be made against Huckabee or Palin. Romney would not be a sure thing, but if I was a gambler, I'd be more likely to bet for him than against.