Monday, December 31, 2007

Should We Heart Huckabee?

What do we know about Mike Huckabee? The man is an enigma wrapped around a cross.

If you go to his website, you can learn a little bit there, He's got the usual selection of right-wing talking points: he says that Roe vs Wade should be repealed; he's strong on marriage; he's pro-gun, pro-veteran, pro-Israel, all the usual issues. He also wants to take the Bush tax cuts even farther, and help the rich get richer than they are now (even in an age where the top 1% of the population control one-third of the money, and 70% of the money is in the hands of the top 10%). And his thoughts on the subject?
I'd like you to join me at the best "Going Out of Business" sale I can imagine - one held by the Internal Revenue Service. Am I running for president to shut down the federal government? Not exactly. But I am running to completely eliminate all federal income and payroll taxes. And I do mean all - personal federal, corporate federal, gift, estate, capital gains, alternative minimum, Social Security, Medicare, self-employment.
He probably isn't going to come out in favor of women's rights any time soon, incidentally.
In August of 1998, Huckabee was one of 131 signatories to a full page USA Today Ad which declared: "I affirm the statement on the family issued by the 1998 Southern Baptist Convention." What was in the family statement from the SBC? "A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ."

The ad wasn't just a blanket, "we support the SBC statement," but rather highlighted details. The ad Huckabee signed specifically said of the SBC family statement: "You are right because you called wives to graciously submit to their husband's sacrificial leadership."
The man who claims that he wants to "bring this country back together" will more likely be an even more polarizing factor. David Corn dissected Huckabee's 1998 book, Kids who Kill: Confronting our Culture of Violence for Mother Jones and discovered his distaste for… well, for everybody who didn't hold exactly his views.
Abortion, environmentalism, AIDS, pornography, drug abuse, and homosexual activism have fragmented and polarized our communities.
Was it those ideas, or people like you who fought against them, that polarized… oh, never mind. That's kind of a circular argument anyway.

A few pages later, we find that he thinks that:
It is now difficult to keep track of the vast array of publicly endorsed and institutionally supported aberrations — from homosexuality and pedophilia to sadomasochism and necrophilia.
So, you're reading along on that one, and you get to homosexuality (OK, there's all kinds of gay support groups), pedophilia (well, we haven't heard much from NAMBLA lately, but we know that they exist, or at least existed at one point), and apparently most of his audience has dozed off by this point, since organized sadomasochism is hard, though not impossible, to imagine. But "publicly endorsed and institutionally supported necrophilia"? What the hell? How stupid does he think that his audience is?

OK, strike that last question. Among other things, we establish with that sentence that his audience has an attention span of no more than two, maybe two and a half talking points.

We do know that, while he apparently hunts once in a while, he can occasionally become the poster child for the people who believe that guns should be kept out of the hands of some people. It seems that he went hunting recently for the photographers, and then, after joking about Dick Cheney's habit of shooting people in the face, tracked a bird over the heads of some reporters and fired off a round or two. That's part of the reason that the NRA teaches gun safety courses, isn't it?

We also know that he's a Christian. There's that whole bit in the Constitution that says that religion shouldn't matter in a political race, but to some people it does. And for those people, he's constantly bringing up his religion: running ads that are overtly Christian in theme (in fact, coming out and saying that he's a "Christian leader" in one of them), referring to his theological degree during a debate, and even saying that his rise in polls is due to the prayers of the faithful (as opposed to a growing distaste for Rudy 9iu11ani, or Mitt Romney reminding people of a used car salesman).

However, that seems to be the extent of what we know about him. He was a pastor for twelve years at two different Baptist churches before he became a politician, but he refuses to disclose the contents of any of his sermons.

But despite the fact that he won't tell us what he was saying when he was behind the pulpit, he's using that preacher-cred to court some of the worst of the far-right theocrats in America, and they're happily coughing up large amounts of cash for him.

We also don't get to know much about what he did as governor, except for what had already made it into the public record. You see, when he left office, he didn't seem to think that wiping the hard drives of the computers would be enough.
Department of Information Systems Director Claire Bailey said hard drives for 83 computers and four servers were destroyed, or "crushed," after information was downloaded onto backup tapes. Underwood supervised it and delivered the backup tapes to Huckabee Chief of Staff Brenda Turner, who had ordered the hard drives crushed, Bailey said.

She said the computers were located in the state Capitol; the state's Washington, D. C., office; the state police airport hangar; the Governor's Mansion; and the Arkansas State Police drug office.
For some reason, Huck doesn't want us to know exactly what he's done in the course of his life. So what do we know?

We know that our boy Huck has a fairly limited grasp of what life is like in prison.
Asked about Guantanamo, Mike Huckabee said he had visited the facility and said it was "disappointing" that military personnel were eating meals that averaged $1.60 while the detainees were eating Halal meals that cost over $4 each.

"The inmates there were getting a whole lot better treatment than my prisoners in Arkansas. In fact, we left saying, 'I hope our guys don’t see this. They'll all want to be transferred to Guantanamo. If anything, it’s too nice."
Yeah, except for that whole psychological intimidation and occasional waterboarding thing, along with other fascinating examples of abuse. And a bunch of them were kidnapped (sorry, "extraordinarily rendered") instead of arrested. And many of them are kept in solitary confinement. Oh, and the fact that none of these prisoners can seem to get a trial. That's all OK. It's the cost of their meals that's important.

He also used that opportunity to boast about how tough he is, because he used his time as governor to execute 16 prisoners. Does bragging about how many people you had killed sound like any other presidential candidates you can think of? Maybe about seven years ago or so? (Actually, he mentioned the executions because he was fighting back against Mitt Romney's current position that he's soft on crime. I just like the comparison.)

OK, then, what doesn't Huckabee know about? That list seems pretty wide-ranging. He admits that he doesn't know much about global warming or current events: he had no idea that the American intelligence community had said that Iran didn't have a nuclear warhead, in direct opposition to what Bush had been saying about them for months, even after it had been a front-page story for two days.

He doesn't know much about illegal immigrants: he recently said that there were more Pakistani's in America illegally than any nationality "than all other nationalities except those immediately south of the border" (he was trying to beat the war drum, and tie the Pakistani unrest into the illegal immigrant "crisis"); he followed that up by saying that 660 Pakistanis have come into the country illegally because of insecure borders. Unfortunately, he got the numbers backward: Homeland security reports that around 600 Pakistani's were turned back or arrested before they entered the country - oh, and no, there aren't more Pakistani's than any other nationality, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

This lack of knowledge extends to geography, as well: "We have seen what happens in the Musharraf government," Huckabee said on MSNBC. "He has told us he does not have enough control of those eastern borders near Afghanistan to be able go after the terrorists." Yeah, Huck. That would be the western border with Afghanistan, right?

(And when former Prime Minister Bhutto was assassinated, he went up on stage in Orlando to express "our sincere concern and apologies for what has happened in Pakistan." The man was a minister for twelve years. Couldn't he channel some of that training and find the word "sympathies" somewhere in his vocabulary? Instead, he provided fodder for pundits and the tinfoil-hat crowd for the next year.)

But staying on the subject of illegal immigrants (well, the GOP does it, why shouldn't I?), he apparently doesn't know much about moving large numbers of people, since he thinks that we can get 11-12 million illegal immigrants to leave the country within 120 days. (And he also doesn't think that the forced expulsion of over 7% of America's workforce all at once would have any effect on the economy, apparently.)

So basically, we don't get to know about his past, and what we find out about in the present is not especially encouraging. He's extremely secretive; he supports the forced incarceration, without trial, of people just because they might be terrorists; and he hunts without regard to the safety of those around him. Does this sound like any Vice Presidents you might know?

Plus, he's a former governor, proud of his death-penalty record, who shows a remarkable lack of knowledge in key fields. It's possible that Mike Huckabee could embody the worst features of both halves of the current administration.

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