Huckabee’s administration worked hard and unapologetically to prevent gay people from being foster parents. He avidly supported the state amendment that bans gay marriage as well as civil unions and bans any equal treatment under the law — such as in health insurance coverage — for same-sex partners. He professed opposition to alcohol and gambling, but he allowed passage of legislation that made it easier for restaurants to obtain private-club mixed-drink permits in dry counties. Over the angry objection of the church lobby, he sped final action on a bill to allow video poker at the state’s racetracks, an act followed not long afterward by a $10,000 campaign contribution from the owner of the state’s biggest race track, at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs.
All this is sometimes done with humor, but rarely the sort of gentle humor the national media has encountered. Huckabee prefers sarcastic putdowns and hyperbole. Because Arkansas Democrats tried to enfranchise more citizens with weekend voting in Arkansas, he called his home state a banana republic on the Don Imus show. He’s compared weight loss with a concentration camp. Abortion, even in the earliest microscopic stages, he’s called a holocaust. He referred in a Farm Bureau speech to “fruits and nuts” and “wacko environmentalists” in decrying environmentalists as a threat to agriculture. (Yes, this is the same man that gullible mainstream columnists praise for his ringing environmental proclamations.)
But the national press has more to examine than rhetoric when it comes to Huckabee. He is not the man of principle that credulous commentators describe. Though Huckabee doesn’t support embryonic stem cell research, he took a hefty honorarium and bulk book sales this year from a diabetes drug maker, Novo Nordisk, which performs embryonic stem cell research. He has lied when there’s been no other way around admitting embarrassing missteps, such as his advocacy of freedom for a convicted rapist.
I wouldn’t have a beer with him if you grabbed me by the scruff of the neck, held my nose and poured it down my throat.
The whole field is horrible, you know, and if this is their next great hope, now that Giuliani’s done and Romney’s starting to creep people out and McCain never got started (more’s the pity if you’re actually a Republican) and Fred Who Again? and basically we’re left with Huckabee and Ron Paul, who I hope gets into an independent sitch, because I like him fucking with them like that. If we could just get Roy Moore into the race, along with Paul, both of them nibbling away at the bigots and crazies on the edges, then we’d have a cricket match of it, all right, but if this is it? Ugh. If I’m afraid of Huckabee, it’s not even really because of Huckabee, it’s because of the efficiency of the GOP noise machine and the stupidity and venality of the majority of the political press. Really the whole Republican field sucks. There’s not a single one of them I would bother to argue with, not one.
Maybe I should be glad about that. I am glad, mostly, because the only thing that it seems will let this Democratic Congress grow some balls is a Democratic president (maybe not even then, but I have to hope for something or give up and hibernate) and so Huckabee as the nominee is gonna be good for Clinton (maybe) Obama (maybe) Dodd (please, baby Jesus and Santa and the Tooth Fairy) Edwards (I’d do him) Kucinich (hell yeah!) Biden (ugh, but acceptable) and everybody else.
I am sort of depressed, though, that this is the best they can do, because all it means is that a lot of time’s going to be spent fighting something that’s barely worthy of the fight, fighting the machine, not the man it’s carrying, fighting shadows instead of substance again, fighting some douchebag who can barely be bothered to fill the podium space. And even more depressed thinking of how much perfectly fine timber is going to be expended propping this nasty, decaying thing up in front of the American people for nearly a year, expended on stories about how Huckabee’s funny and charming, and wouldn’t you just love to sit down and talk politics with him over a burger somewhere, instead of on a contest between two smart people with differing governing philosophies whose contrast could teach us something.