Mike Huckabee Experience

A Clown Car Crossover Extravaganza

Detail of 'Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal' by Zach Weiner, 12 June 2015.

Two stars of the 2016 GOP Clown Car strove for fabulosity in a crossover clusterdiddle for the ages. Steve Benen of msnbc brings us the Tales of Two Petty Whines in the wake of marriage equality; first up, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee:

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s (R) grasp of constitutional law has long been a little fuzzy. In January, the Republican presidential candidate said Supreme Court rulings don’t set the law of the land because decisions need to be enshrined by lawmakers through “enabling legislation.”

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee speaks to guests gathered at the Point of Grace Church for the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition 2015 Spring Kickoff on April 25, 2015 in Waukee, Iowa. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)The problem, of course, was that this was gibberish.

Huckabee’s argument was presented in anticipation of a Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality, which arrived on Friday. Right on cue, the former governor made a similar argument to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos yesterday.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So are you calling for civil disobedience?

HUCKABEE: I don’t think a lot of pastors and Christian schools are going to have a choice. They either are going to follow God, their conscience and what they truly believe is what the scripture teaches them, or they will follow civil law. They will go the path of Dr. Martin Luther King, who in his brilliant essay the letters from a Birmingham jail reminded us, based on what St. Augustine said, that an unjust law is no law at all. And I do think that we’re going to see a lot of pastors who will have to make this tough decision.

He added moments later, “I’m not sure that every governor and every attorney general should just say, well, ‘It’s the law of the land,’ because there’s no enabling legislation.” When Stephanopoulos asked if he would enforce federal law if elected president, Huckabee said it would depend on Congress passing “enabling legislation.”

Mr. Benen makes the first, obvious point, that, “There won’t be ‘enabling legislation’.” Mr. Huckabee is, in all seriousness, pulling a screeching monkey out of his ass and telling you it’s a rabbit prophesying in a hat.

There is also the question of civil disobedience, and while most can agree it has its place, one wonders if our Republican neighbors can tell the difference. In tihs case, the proposition is a matter of civil disobedience in assertion of a right to discriminate and harm. In Jesus’ name, you know. Amen.

But wait, there’s more!

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The Mike Huckabee Experience (Christian Hatedown Remix)

In this April 18, 2015 file photo, former Arkansas Republican Gov. Mike Huckabee speaks at the Republican Leadership Summit in Nashua, NH.  Huckabee is set to announce he will seek the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.  He has an event planned for May 5 in his hometown of Hope, Ark., where former President Bill Clinton was also born.  (AP Photo/Jim Cole, File)

This is a look ahead, toward some difficult times.

On Tuesday, Mike Huckabee made it official. The former Republican Arkansas governor and Fox News host launched his second bid for the White House in his hometown of Hope, Arkansas, vowing to stop the “slaughter” of abortion and calling for the protection of the “laws of nature” from the “the false God of judicial supremacy.”

Tim Murphy reports, for Mother Jones, the “Mike Huckabee you may not remember”, and it’s just as foul a history as you might imagine.

Huckabee, then a Baptist pastor who operated a small television station out of his Arkadelphia church, made sex and morality the centerpieces of his ’92 campaign—and he preached as fiery a message from the stump as he did from the pulpit. The novice politician let loose with eyebrow-raising tirades that occasionally put him to the right of the most fire-breathing conservatives. He endorsed quarantining AIDS patients, condemned efforts to shield homosexuals from discrimination, and called for the death penalty to be imposed on big-time drug dealers. He attacked Bumpers repeatedly as a libertine who supposedly supported giving condoms to 12-year-olds, sanctioned gay throuples, and voted to use taxpayer funds on “pornographic” art.

Serrano, Piss Christ (detail)Huckabee’s 1992 platform was an artifact of the Moral Majority’s high-water mark. In interviews and on the stump he explained that the nation had strayed toward “selfishness and sensuality” and had been “savaged by radical groups bent on a moral and social agenda” at odds with Judeo-Christian values. “When I was in school, they passed out Gideon Bibles—today, they pass out condoms,” he said at stop after stop on the trail. In the new liberal order, Huckabee warned his hometown paper, the Hope Star, a family would consist of “three homosexual men living together.”

The gay agenda, he believed, was influencing and restricting the nation’s response to the AIDS crisis. He endorsed quarantining AIDS patients from the rest of society—a radical view even among conservatives at the time—while arguing that the severity of the epidemic had been exaggerated because gay people wielded so much political clout. The federal government should spend less money on AIDS, he insisted, and more on diseases that the afflicted had not brought on themselves, such as cancer.

“I realize a lot of people have received AIDS through blood transfusions, but AIDS is basically a lifestyle disease, and when the lifestyle is changed, the disease risk goes significantly down,” Huckabee said in one interview. AIDS advocates themselves, not taxpayers, should pony up: “Elizabeth Taylor went before Congress and made a big pitch that we needed more federal funding for AIDS. If Elizabeth Taylor would take one of the rings off her finger and sell it, she could get more money for AIDS research than the average Arkansan will make in two years of hard work. If she’s really serious about it, she’s got assets that she could dispose of. Why should she make me take money from my children’s future, and take it right off my table when she needs to cough up some of her own coin for that.”

It is worth noting that in this time when American Christians lament that they are, in various ways, under some sort of siege―from gays, women, television, even basic reality―it probably won’t help anyone to have so many Republican candidates rushing to proclaim hatred in Jesus’ name.

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The Mike Huckabee Experience (Sixteen Candles Pilot Episode)

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee waits backstage before speaking during the Freedom Summit Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

There will be plenty of fun stuff to cover, to be certain; Mike Huckabee has a history. For now it is enough to note that the former governor of Arkansas has entered the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

Mike Huckabee had a pretty good record as governor. It’s too bad he can’t run on it. Better known in recent years for saying occasionally outrageous things as a commentator, Huckabee governed Arkansas for more than a decade as a pragmatist, devoting his attention to basics such as roads, schools and health care. On those issues, though, Huckabee generally took positions too liberal to suit a Republican presidential prospect in 2016—posing a conundrum for him as he plunges this week into the 2016 presidential race.

(Greenblatt)

Alan Greenblatt’s report for Politico notwithstanding―and there’s a hell of a flick of the wrist, eh?―msnbc blogger Steve Benen wonders if Mr. Huckabee stands a chance, and suggests, “by most measures, Huckabee remains a factional candidate who will struggle to compete for his party’s nomination”.

Mr. Benen’s analysis notwithstanding―what? couldn’t see that coming?―we might simply consider that the Republican (ahem!) clown car just got a headline absurdist.

Perhaps “notwithstanding” is the wrong word to abuse today. Benen reflects that Mr. Huckabee “enters the race as a credible, second-tier contender, leading much of the large GOP field”, and when we stop to consider that the professional huckster’s more clownish aspects are what lead him to this prestige, reflecting at once upon Greenblatt’s point about the former Arkansas governor’s gubernatorial record and the seemingly obvious juxtaposition of what it takes to achieve such popularity among conservatives. Mike Huckabee has another record, and that will be in its own way representative of the current conservative ethos. And, you know, zeitgeist. Just, well, right, you know, because the word goes in here somewhere. Actually, you know, Benen gives a pretty good thumbnail sketch, but still, this is what it feels like, and this is what it takes.

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Image note: Detail: Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee waits backstage before speaking during the Freedom Summit Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Greenblatt, Alan. “Mike Huckabee’s Love Affair With Big Government”. Politico. 4 May 2015.

Benen, Steve. “Does Mike Huckabee stand a chance?” msnbc. 5 May 2015.