Recently I'd been thinking that even though I wildly disagree with Mike Huckabee on a variety of issues, he might not be so bad, since he seemed plainspoken, genuinely humorous and sincere, qualities which cannot be ascribed to anyone else running for the office on the Republican ticket or to Hillary Clinton.
Yes, I genuinely entertained the notion that if Clinton won the Democratic nomination, my options would be Huckabee (if he's on the ballot) or abstaining. I don't think he's dumb; intellectually he's far sharper than the incumbent. He is right to have criticized our "arrogant" foreign policy and the president's "bunker mentality." He is right to have criticized Donald Rumsfeld's prosecution of the Iraq war. He is right to say that Americans would prefer to have a president who reminds them of the guy they work with, rather than the guy who laid them off. He is right to envision a radical overhaul of the tax code (even if his idea in practice probably hurts most the people he's trying to help). He is right to insist on not punishing the children of illegal immigrants. He might reject evolution, but he doesn't deny the impending disaster of climate change and the necessity of conservation and sustainable technologies. (If you go to his campaign website and look on the "Issues" page, the environment is the first subject he raises under the heading "Faith and Politics.")
And what to make of his easy rapport with sheep-in-wolf's clothing and liberal icon Stephen Colbert? He couldn't possibly misunderstand Colbert's lethally satirical parody of right-wing talking-points; was this the rare social conservative who could tap into the incredibly broad disgust with the Washington status quo and, instead of blaming the latte and chardonnay crowd for the nation's ills, actually court them?
But then came this article in The Nation, "The Real Mike Huckabee." Caveat: the premise rests largely on the unsubstantiated assertions of Arkansas Baptist minister Jay Cole, who claims that Huckabee is a firm believer in "End Times" eschatology. It is true that Huckabee has won the endorsement of Tim LaHaye, co-author of the Left Behind novels. Hello, red flag. The next president of the United States needs to have a particularly firm grasp of foreign policy, which already was one of Huckabee's glaring weak spots. The prospect, however, of having a president who believes that the Antichrist* will be manifested as the Secretary General of the United Nations is a dismal one. The last thing we need in the White House is a Christian Zionist who believes that Israel must be preserved and protected at all costs in order to provide a safe-haven for the prophesied "in-gathering" of the Jews so that they are all in one convenient location for Jesus to come back and destroy them. And what to make of the calls for conservation and green technology by someone who presumably believes that he might well be "raptured" off the earth before his term is up? If Huckabee's beliefs are in line with LaHaye's, then there are some questions that he should answer for the American public. (Slacktivist outlines them here.)
The proverbial final straw, however, was his comment regarding the confederate flag in South Carolina. To wit: You don't like people from outside the state coming in and telling you what to do with your flag. In fact, if somebody came to Arkansas and told us what to do with our flag, we'd tell 'em what to do with the pole; that's what we'd do.
Christopher Hitchens does a fine job deconstructing the political and historical fallacies in this boast, but I want to talk about something else.
Don't get me wrong; I was never so naive as to think Huckabee was a friend of the gay community, but forgive me for thinking a sincere bigot is preferable to a panderer who courts my vote and then consistently abandons me when the political chips are down. Rejection on misguided principle I can handle; betrayal for political expedience I resent.
Let's first address the states' rights issues to which he alluded; last year, both houses of the Oregon legislature passed a bill establishing domestic partnerships for same-sex couples in the state; the bill was signed by the Governor; a petition was mounted to refer the issue to the voters but was ruled invalid, according to well-established guidelines, by the Secretary of State for insufficient signatures. The law was to go into effect on January 1, but the Alliance Defense Fund, an out of state right-wing activist organization, filed suit on behalf of the petitioners and on December 28, 2007 Judge Michael Mosman, a Bush appointee, granted them standing and suspended the law pending a hearing. Would Huckabee, in this case, support the interference of an out-of-state group coming in and suing us for respecting the dignity of our citizens?
"We'd tell 'em what to do with the pole." So in addition to the ghastly racist pandering and historical revisionism, Huckabee proposes -- for laughs, no less -- that those who dare to speak out against the endorsement of an established symbol of hatred and oppression should be sodomized with a flagpole. This is a comment grossly unbecoming of either a presidential candidate or a Christian minister.
Mike Huckabee, I'm done with you.
And now a challenge to South Carolina's favorite son: do not let this outrage go unmocked.
* There is no such thing as "the" Antichrist. The Bible does not point to only one person as being the antichrist but speaks of a class of persons. John, in scripture references, speaks of "many anti-Christs" who embody the spirit of the anti-Christ 1 John 4:3). John wrote that, such anti-Christs (or opponents of Christ) would deny: "that Jesus is the Christ"; "the Father and the Son"; and would "not confess Jesus came in the flesh."