December 2007

Huckabee Consistent When Convenient

Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee recently took a shot at rival Mitt Romney for having changed his political positions:"I think people should judge Mitt Romney on his record. Is he consistent? Does he say and believe the things now that he said and believed before? That's what ought to be the criteria.” When confronted over the weekend by his 1992 comments about people infected with HIV calling on the federal government to “take steps that would isolate the carriers of this plague,” Huckabee said, "The one thing I feel like is important to note is that you stick by what you said" and that while he might say things differently today, “I don’t run from it, don’t recant from it.” That concern about consistency apparently didn’t extend to his much more recent position on federal government policy toward Cuba. In fact, it only took a couple of hours for him to reverse course when it looked like his previous position might cost him some votes, according to a Miami Herald story about the GOP candidate debate hosted by television network Univisión:
Although the candidates kept it polite on stage, Fred Thompson's campaign circulated press clippings from 2002 in which Huckabee called for an end to the trade embargo with Cuba. In a letter to President Bush, Huckabee wrote at the time: ``U.S. policy on Cuba has not accomplished its stated goal of toppling the Castro regime and instead has provided Castro with a convenient excuse for his own failed system of government.'' That stance is bound to rile many Cuban Americans in Miami-Dade, who believe that the embargo helps undermine Fidel Castro's repressive regime. Huckabee is certain to face questions about the embargo at a Monday morning press conference in Miami, where he is expecting an endorsement from Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio, one of the most prominent Cuban-American Republicans in the state. Caught off guard, Huckabee's campaign said two hours after the debate that he had since changed his position on the embargo after consulting with Cuban-American leaders. ''He's committed to vetoing any legislation that lifts sanctions on Cuba,'' said Huckabee spokeswoman Alice Stewart.

House Races to Play on Immigration Fears

In districts with few Hispanics, writes E.J. Dionne.

Anti-Gay Scholars Hit Political Road

The Religious Right looks to Maggie Gallagher and Robert George for intellectual cover when arguing that same-sex couples shouldn’t be allowed to marry, but whatever credibility they have as independent scholars will be put to the test by their new venture, the National Organization for Marriage.

Gallagher, president of the low-key Institute for Marriage and Public Policy (and perhaps most famous for taking money from the Bush Administration while promoting its marriage policy), and George, a Princeton professor, started NOM in order to lobby against marriage equality for same-sex couples and to campaign against legislators connected to the issue. The group ran this billboard in Massachusetts before the state’s 2007 election (image via Good As You):

Massachusetts billboard

The group is airing a radio ad in New Jersey against a bill that would allow same-sex couples to marry, featuring a child saying, “God creating Adam and Eve? That was so old-fashioned.” Although the bill, entitled “Civil Marriage and Religious Protection Act,” explicitly states that no religious group would be required to sanction any marriage (a requirement the First Amendment prohibits anyway) , the NOM ad hits on public fears that marriage equality for same-sex couples would imperil churches, stating, “They also want to penalize traditional New Jersey churches with threats to state tax exemptions and adoption licenses.”

Get Together with Dog and BOND

Jesse Lee Peterson, Founder and President of the Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny, declares that Dog the Bounty Hunter is not racist and announces a book signing: "The Los Angeles based nonprofit organization BOND, the Brotherhood Organization of A New Destiny, will host a Book Signing for Duane "Dog" Chapman's book 'You Can Run But You Can't Hide', as well as a Christmas toy giveaway for kids on Saturday, December 15, at 11:30a.m.PST."

Terri Schiavo Day

The Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation and Priests for Life have announced "the establishment of the 'International Day of Prayer and Remembrance for Terri Schindler Schiavo, and All of Our Vulnerable Brothers and Sisters' ('Terri's Day'), to be observed each year on March 31, the date of Terri's death."

Praise Be to Huckabee

"Former homosexual" Stephen Bennett praises Mike Huckabee's remarks on quarantining AIDS victims and calling homosexuality "an aberrant, unnatural and sinful lifestyle," saying he is "holding true to his firm moral convictions on homosexuality ... This is a real man of integrity."

TVC Commends Condi

The Traditional Values Coalition reacts to Ambassador Guest's resignation by hailing Condoleezza Rice: "Secretary Rice is to be commended for taking a principled stand on the importance of granting marriage benefits only to those who are actually married. “Ambassador Guest was clearly attempting to have the State Department grant marriage benefits to homosexual couples. If he had succeeded, it would have had a ripple effect throughout the federal government.”

Playing the Victim

Concerned Women for America’s Janice Shaw Crouse comments on Mitt Romney's "faith" speech, saying "The hostility and distrust of Evangelicals far exceeds that faced by the Mormons," while Gary Cass, Chairman and CEO of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, calls on Romney to "renounce the historic Mormon hostility to Christianity."

Brand Newt

Newt Gingrich has descended upon the Iowa caucuses again, promoting a “Platform of the American People” –and, incredibly, raising the specter of running for vice president:

The timing of his appearances a month before the Jan. 3 Iowa presidential caucuses is leading political observers to suspect he's angling to be on the short list of running-mates for former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney or former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee or whoever is the Republican nominee. …

The former House speaker who flirted with a Republican presidential nomination run earlier this year said in a C-SPAN interview on Sunday that he might accept being the presidential nominee's running mate if offered.

"Depending on the circumstances, I'd be honored to be considered and under some circumstances, I'd probably feel compelled to say 'yes,' " said Mr. Gingrich, who says he will work until this summer's presidential nominating conventions "to get both parties to adopt a unity platform on a handful of things they could enact in the first 90 days of 2009."

It was just two months ago that Gingrich’s incipient presidential run was mercifully laid to rest, but some on the Right are apparently holding out hope that the former House speaker will save them, perhaps fondly recalling the “Contract with America” that he put together shortly before the Republicans took control of the House in 1995 and that served as a right-wing rallying cry after the elections.

Of course, a lot has happened since 1995. Gingrich quickly established his lack of popularity—within two years, his favorability rating was at 15 percent. His skills as a political strategist were put to the test as he pursued the impeachment of Bill Clinton in the run up to the 1998 elections, which resulted in a devastating loss for Republicans and his stepping down from leadership. Many Americans no doubt remember the hypocrisy of Gingrich prosecuting Clinton for sexual indiscretion while he himself was having an affair.

Gingrich was a key figure in creating the era of highly-polarized politics, but today he is branding himself, ironically, as a seeker of common ground, launching a campaign earlier this year of platitudes (“Real change requires real change,” etc.). Now, the Right is looking to him as its “ideas man,” gushing over his “intellectual heft.” “Newt Gingrich is the intellectual cornerstone of our modern conservative movement," said the American Conservative Union’s William Lauderback at this year’s CPAC.

While such a reputation on the Right may be hard to believe, it may ultimately doom his vice-presidential aspirations; ACU’s David Keene warns that Gingrich’s “articulateness and willingness to speak out on virtually every issue” would put candidates at risk of being “upstag[ed]” by him. That would indeed be embarrassing.

In any event, we’re sure Gingrich is enjoying all the attention, and it brings to mind the words of longtime Gingrich ally Matt Towery after Gingrich announced he wouldn’t seek the presidency. "The question is, around Washington: Was it a scam?”

The Huckabee of Old

Mike Huckabee’s rapid ascent in the polls has come as a surprise to many. It began with his performance and win at the Values Voter Debate, where he assured a bevy of second and third-tier right-wing activists that he was different from the other candidates - for while they simply come “to” them seeking support, he comes “from” them.   

Huckabee rode the wave from the Debate into the Value Voter Summit where he wooed the audience by telling them everything they longed to hear from a presidential candidate and walked away with the majority of votes of those in attendance in the straw poll.

Since then, Huckabee has been racking up endorsements from right-wing figures like Janet Folger, Rick Scarborough, and Tim and Beverly LaHaye and been transformed into a viable front-runner.  

In addition, Huckabee has undoubtedly benefited from the fact that many in the press seem smitten with his affability, humor, and “ah shucks” demeanor – but, as we noted in a report we recently released, they are ignoring his “a long record of rhetoric and actions that reveal an ideologue’s agenda and a zealot’s intolerance for differing opinions.”

For example, in this recent profile of Huckabee, the New York Times undertook no real investigation of any of Huckabee’s past work or inflammatory remarks, stating simply:

Mr. Huckabee served as Mr. [James] Robison’s announcer, advance man and public relations representative, drumming up attendance and coverage for his prayer meetings and appearing on broadcasts. (The organization was based near Dallas, which is how Mr. Huckabee came to work on the 1980 Reagan rally). Mr. Robison could be harsh — he yelled in the pulpit and referred to gay people as perverts — but Mr. Huckabee was a genial ambassador

That is all well and good, until you realize just who Huckabee was working for:

Likewise, the Times goes on to perfunctorily recount Huckabee’s failed 1992 Senate campaign:

Mr. Huckabee ran largely on social issues like abortion, portraying his opponent, Senator Dale Bumpers, a Democrat who was virtually an Arkansas institution, as a pornographer because he supported the National Endowment for the Arts. But attacking the popular veteran backfired; Mr. Huckabee was badly beaten.

Of course, there is more to it than that – such as the positions he put forward during his campaign, which he discussed with the Associated Press:

Having gays and lesbians in the military would be a disgrace for the nation, according to Huckabee.

"I agree with the leadership of our military, who believe it is not in the best interest of the armed forces to have homosexuals serving on active duty," he said. "I believe to try to legitimize that which is inherently illegitimate would be a disgraceful act of government. I feel homosexuality is an aberrant, unnatural and sinful lifestyle, and we now know it can pose a dangerous public health risk."

Q: Do you approve of a man and a woman living together out of marriage?

Huckabee: Whether or not I approve of a man and woman living together is not as much of an issue as whether or not it is right and whether or not God approves of it. The "living together" relationship is demeaning to the highest expression of human love and commitment. I reject it as an alternate lifestyle, because it robs people of the highest possible relationship one can experience: marriage. We should always strive to encourage every human being to experience his or her full potential and possibilities.  

Huckabee also shared his views regarding the proper treatment of people who are infected with HIV:

"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," he said. "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.

"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."

This was 1992 – four years after the federal government distributed a pamphlet penned by then Surgeon General C. Everett Koop entitled “Understanding AIDS” which explained that the disease could not be contracted through everyday contact.  And is not as if Huckabee just didn’t see the pamphlet, since it “was sent to all 107 million households in the United States in 1988, the largest public health mailing ever done.”

Huckabee likes to portray himself as a different kind of right-wing leader, one who is conservative but “is not angry about it.” But judging by his past remarks, he appears far more like his right-wing allies than he would like the nation to believe.