Top 10 Moments in Mike Huckabee's Extremism
As former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee catapults to the top of the 2008 Republican presidential race, amazed media on-lookers ponder his meteoric rise. The authentic, charismatic former minister, they say, is swaying disheartened conservative voters, especially the legions of evangelicals in Iowa and other states, disillusioned with President Bush and unimpressed with his potential successors. But despite emerging stories from his checkered past such as the Wayne Dumond affair or his past AIDS bigotry, a true portrait of Mike Huckabee as a radical reactionary and dangerous extremist has yet to be painted.
Here then, are the Top 10 Moments in Mike Huckabee's extremism:
- Huckabee Calls for the Quarantine of AIDS Victims
- Huckabee Enables the Politically-Motivated Parole of Repeat Rapist/Murderer
- Huckabee Offers Faith-Based Pardons
- Huckabee Undermines the Teaching of Evolution
- Huckabee Speaks for God
- Huckabee Speaks to God
- Huckabee Claims God Behind His Rise in the Polls
- Huckabee Proclaims His Theology Degree a Unique Qualification to Fight Terrorism
- Huckabee Flip-Flops, Calls for Federal Abortion Ban
- Huckabee Calls for Consumption Tax, Abolition of the IRS
1. Huckabee Calls for the Quarantine of AIDS Victims
In 1992, then Senate candidate Huckabee advocated the isolation of AIDS patients. Labeling homosexuality "an aberrant, unnatural, and sinful lifestyle" which could "pose a dangerous public health risk," Huckabee called for draconian - and discriminatory - action:
"If the federal government is truly serious about doing something with the AIDS virus, we need to take steps that would isolate the carriers of this plague.
It is difficult to understand the public policy towards AIDS. It is the first time in the history of civilization in which the carriers of a genuine plague have not been isolated from the general population, and in which this deadly disease for which there is no cure is being treated as a civil rights issue instead of the true health crisis it represents."
Despite the clear understanding of AIDS transmission that emerged years earlier (even an AIDS demagogue like Ronald Reagan spoke publicly about it in 1987), Huckabee still insists (wrongly) that "we didn't know." And speaking to Fox News on Sunday, Huckabee refused to "recant" or "run from" his words in 1992.
2. Huckabee Enables the Politically-Motivated Parole of Repeat Rapist/Murderer
As Murray Waas documented at the Huffington Post, Mike Huckabee might claim to be a man of God, but he acted a pure partisan operator in the parole of Wayne Dumond in Arkansas.
The expanding scandal surrounding Dumond, a convicted rapist, is not limited to Huckabee's direct personal involvement in securing his parole. Nor is Huckabee's disgrace merely compounded by his later denials that he had no way of knowing the dangers posed by Dumond, who went to rape and murder against after his release. (Waas produces extenstive documentation, including letters to Huckabee from Dumond's past victims.) Huckabee's abominable role is all the more shocking because it was done at the behest of conservative zealots like Steve Dunleavy and Guy Reel furious because Wayne Dumond's victim was a distant cousin of Bill Clinton who also happened to be the daughter of a prominent Arkansas Democrat.
Baselessly calling the coverage by ABC and the Huffington Post "complete exploitation" and full of "factual errors," Huckabee tried to deny his role in the Dumond affair and instead attacked the messenger:
"What a sad thing that in an election year, we're going to take the grief of these people...and make this a political issue, and try to point fingers and blame."
The former minister might have been better served by rereading the Ten Commandments: you shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
3. Huckabee Offers Faith-Based Pardons
As the AP reports, Governor Huckabee didn't merely intervene to help past and future felons for political purposes. Huckabee used his pardon power at an unprecedented rate (1,033 times over 10 ½ years, compared to 507 times over the 17 plus years of Bill Clinton, Frank White and Jim Guy Tucker). And as case after case shows, Huckabee was quick to offer clemency when his fellow ministers requested it.
The AP documented numerous cases of Huckabee's faith, friends and family plan for gubernatorial pardons:
Donald W. Clark, convicted of theft. Huckabee's pastor recommended leniency for Clark, whose stepmother worked on Huckabee's gubernatorial staff.
Robert A. Arnold Jr., who was convicted of killing his father-in-law. Arnold's father, a former mayor of Hope, Huckabee's hometown, said he was a casual friend of the governor.
A pastor who promoted Huckabee among blacks urged the governor to grant clemency to John Henry Claiborne, who was sentenced to 100 years for a 1994 armed robbery, according to a 2004 report in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Huckabee made Claiborne eligible for parole after receiving a letter from the Rev. Charles Williams, who told the newspaper he had helped win "many, many" clemencies from Huckabee.
Whitewater figure David Hale, a government witness in the trial that forced Gov. Jim Guy Tucker's resignation and let Huckabee ascend to the office, was pardoned after being sentenced to 21 days in a state insurance case. Huckabee complained it would cost too much to hold him. The price tag: $1,200.
As prosecutor Robert Herzfeld said in 2004, "It seems to be true at least anecdotally that if a minister is involved, (Huckabee) seems likely to grant clemency."
4. Huckabee Undermines the Teaching of Evolution
Mike Huckabee hasn't merely repeatedly proclaimed his ignorance of evolution. During his days as Arkansas Governor, he presided over efforts to undermine the teaching of Darwin's theory in the state's public schools.
Huckabee was one of the three GOP White House hopefuls at a Republican debate in May who raised his hand when asked "who doesn't believe in evolution?" And receiving the endorsements of 60 pastors in Iowa last week, Huckabee reiterated his position that:
"I believe God created the heavens and the Earth. I wasn't there when he did it, so how he did it, I don't know.
That's an irrelevant question to ask me - I'm happy to answer what I believe, but what I believe is not what's going to be taught in 50 different states. Education is a state function. The more state it is, and the less federal it is, the better off we are."
But as the Arkansas Times detailed in 2006, then Governor Huckabee similarly claimed not to know that schools in his state were pressuring instructors not to teach evolution in the classroom. In its piece titled "Scientists Discover That Evolution is Missing from Arkansas Classrooms," the paper documented a shocking July 2004 exchange between Huckabee and a pupil on "Arkansans Ask," his regular show on the Arkansas Educational Television Network:
MODERATOR: Schools are dodging Darwinism? Is that what you...?
HUCKABEE: I'm not familiar that they're dodging it. Maybe they are. But I think schools also ought to be fair to all views. Because, frankly, Darwinism is not an established scientific fact. It is a theory of evolution, that's why it's called the theory of evolution. And I think that what I'd be concerned with is that it should be taught as one of the views that's held by people. But it's not the only view that's held. And any time you teach one thing as that it's the only thing, then I think that has a real problem to it.
5. Huckabee Speaks for God
At the CNN/YouTube debate in November, Huckabee adroitly deflected a question on Jesus' position on the death penalty, announcing to applause from the GOP faithful that "Jesus was too smart to ever run for public office." But ten years earlier in 1997, Huckabee claimed unique insight into Christ's likely support for capital punishment:
"Interestingly enough, if there was ever an occasion for someone to have argued against the death penalty, I think Jesus could have done so on the cross and said, 'This is an unjust punishment and I deserve clemency.'"
6. Huckabee Speaks to God
Addressing a 2004 gathering of Republican governors, Huckabee playfully took a cell phone call from God, promising Him GOP support of His platform while assuming His backing for the Republican Party and President George W. Bush:
"We're behind [Bush], yes, sir, we sure are. Yes, sir, we know you don't take sides in the election. But, if you did, we kind of think you'd hang in there with us, Lord, we really do."
7. Huckabee Claims God Behind His Rise in the Polls
Three years after claiming God' endorsement for the GOP and President Bush, Mike Huckabee is now counting Him among his own supporters. Asked about his sudden surge in the presidential polls, Huckabee attributed the gains to His divine intervention:
"There's only one explanation for it, and it's not a human one. It's the same power that helped a little boy with two fish and five loaves feed a crowd of 5,000 people and that's the only way that our campaign could be doing what it's doing.
And I'm not being facetious nor am I trying to be trite. There literally are thousands of people across who are praying that a little will become much and it has, and it defies all explanation. It has confounded the pundits, and I'm enjoying every minute of their trying to figure it out. And until they look at it from a just experience beyond human, they'll never figure it out. And that's probably just as well. That's honestly why its happening."
Huckabee later feebly backtracked, claiming, "I'm saying that when people pray, things happen...I'm not saying that God wants me to be elected." Lord, forgive him not, for he knows what he does.
8. Huckabee Proclaims His Theology Degree a Unique Qualification to Fight Terrorism
Minister Huckabee is quick to champion his degree from tiny Ouachita Baptist University as uniquely qualifying him for the White House. His faith-based presidency would fight the dual threats from Charles Darwin and Osama Bin Laden. In November, Huckabee tried to claim the mantle of the GOP's leading terror fighter, arguing:
"I think I'm stronger than most people because I truly understand the nature of the war that we are in with Islamo fascism. These are people that want to kill us. It's a theocratic war. And I don't know if anybody fully understands that. I'm the only guy on that stage with a theology degree."
Apparently, Mike Huckabee knows a theocrat when he sees one.
9. Huckabee Flip-Flops, Calls for Federal Abortion Ban
It comes as no surprise that the former minister is the most strident GOP presidential candidate when it comes to abortion. What is fascinating is Huckabee's turn-about on the Republican orthodoxy of states' rights.
Intent on stressing his pro-life bona fides against Fred Thompson and other GOP contenders, Huckabee in November proclaimed his support for a federal ban on abortions. Echoing Condi Rice's misappropriation of Civil War and slavery analogies for partisan political purposes:
"It's the logic of the Civil War," Huckabee said Sunday, comparing abortion rights to slavery. "If morality is the point here, and if it's right or wrong, not just a political question, then you can't have 50 different versions of what's right and what's wrong."
"For those of us for whom this is a moral question, you can't simply have 50 different versions of what's right," he said in an interview on "Fox News Sunday."
Unfortunately for Governor Huckabee, that statement flatly contradicted the states' right approach to abortion regulation he took earlier in the year. "First of all," he said", "it should be left to the states."
10. Huckabee Calls for Consumption Tax, Abolition of the IRS
Politicians and academics on both sides of the aisle have at different times called for adding a national consumption tax to encourage savings and investment. But Mike Huckabee is at the forefront of a new wave of Republicans advocating ending the income tax altogether, ensuring a massive redistribution of wealth to - and tax burden away from - the richest Americans.
As both Robert Novak and the Wall Street Journal suggest, Huckabee's strategy is designed to help him "avoid talk of his own checkered tax past in Little Rock."
He promises to abolish the IRS, and along with it all current income, corporate, payroll and other taxes--to be replaced with a 23% national sales, or consumption, tax. He's also promised repeal of the 16th amendment--which established the income tax--to ensure Americans don't get double-taxation.
Of course, the so-called "Fair Tax" wouldn't merely shift the tax burden down the income ladder to Americans who by necessity must spend a greater percentage of their wages and salaries on consumption. As Republican Bruce Bartlett, a deputy assistant secretary of the Treasury from 1988 to 1993, made clear, the 23% figure itself is a "deception." Bartlett argues that "professional revenue estimators have always concluded that a national retail sales tax would have to be much, much higher than 23%," and depending on how state taxes are addressed, "a rate of 64% would be required." It's no wonder Bartlett says of Huckabee and his "Fair Tax" ilk, "voters should not take seriously any candidate who supports it."
UPDATE 1: As it turns out (and as many readers predicted), Mike Huckabee can shock most Americans' sensibilities at rate far faster than can be documented. DailyKos diarist 4fx notes than in 1998, Huckabee was one of 131 signatories to a full page USA Today Ad which, among other things, proclaimed that "a wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband." Also hot off the presses from ThinkProgress is Mike Huckabee's declaration that same year that he got into politics to "take this nation back for Christ."
UPDATE 2: Because Mike Huckabee's outrages occur at a rate faster than can be documented, Perrspectives has now compiled "10 More Moments in Mike Huckabee's Extremism."
UPDATE 3: For details and history on 20 other moments in the extremism of Mike Huckabee, see: