Mike Huckabee, who is announcing his campaign for the presidency today, has crafted an image of a nice, folksy “conservative who is not mad at anybody.” However, this image betrays the reality that the Republican leader has made a career of mean-spirited rhetoric and a propensity for conspiracy theories.
While he has gained national attention for his personal attacks on celebrities like Beyoncé Knowles and Natalie Portman, Huckabee has spent years launching harsh attacks on the gay community while playing into right-wing fears about Obama’s upbringing and purported creation of a tyrannical government.
Hostility to Gay Rights
Huckabee’s folksy charm may not sway many gay rights supporters, as the former Arkansas governor has called for themandatory quarantining of people with HIV/AIDS, defended ex-gay therapy and pledged to restore Don’t Ask Don’t Tell if elected president. Such remarks aren’t surprising, as Huckabee has also compared gays to Nazi propagandists, alcoholics and people who have sex with sheep. Most recently, he linked the purported danger of gay rights in the U.S. to the threat posed by the terrorist group ISIS. He has warned that same-sex marriage is a “perversion” that will lead to divine punishment and the end of America.
Opposition to gay rights has become such an emphasis in Huckabee’s political career that he threatened to leave the GOP because party leaders “abdicated” on the issue of gay marriage.
Despite all of this, Huckabee says that he and other conservatives are the real victims of the gay rights debate. He has accused gay rights advocates of trying to shut down churches and “criminalize Christianity,” even leveling the bogus charge that pastors can be prosecuted for refusing to officiate at a same-sex couple’s wedding.
Huckabee even recommended that people refuse to join the military until after Obama leaves office because of the president’s support for gay rights, which he says amounts to anti-Christian discrimination.
Obama Conspiracy Theories
Huckabee has leveled vicious attacks at Obama by bringing up his childhood, particularly the time he lived with his mother and stepfather in Indonesia, to suggest that the president is not a real American and not a Christian. Huckabee sparked controversy after he twice told conservative pundit Steve Malzberg that Obama grew up in Kenya, where his Kenyan father — whom the president met only once — and his grandfather — whom he never met — turned him against Western countries like Great Britain.
Huckabee said that it was merely a slip of the tongue, lashing out at journalists for refusing to read “page 183” of his book where he clearly stated Obama grew up partly in Indonesia. However, the mythical “page 183” does not talk about Indonesia (in fact, nowhere in Huckabee’s book is the country mentioned.)
In an interview with far-right talk show host Bryan Fischer, Huckabee said that he agreed with Fischer’s point that Obama’s childhood instilled in him “anti-Americanism.” Huckabee added: “The point was that they felt like that due to Obama’s father and grandfather it could be that his version and view of the Mau Mau Revolution was very different than most of the people who perhaps would grow up in the United States…. Most of us grew up going to Boy Scout meetings and, you know, our communities were filled with Rotary Clubs, not madrassas.”
Huckabee has also pushed the conspiracy theory that Obama may have identified as a foreign student in college and said that the president’s administration is giving “special rights and privileges ” to Muslim-Americans.
Huckabee has specifically pointed to the contraception coverage mandate in the Affordable Care Act as a sign of tyranny and the demise of religious liberty, where women are treated as libidinous dependents of “Uncle Sugar.”
“When I go back to American history, that’s why the American Revolution started,” he said. “You had a government that became a tyranny and that government began to tell people what limitations of their belief could be.”
However, while serving as governor of Arkansas, Huckabee signed into law a contraception coverage mandate that had even fewer religious exemptions than those found in the Affordable Care Act.
Huckabee also charges that President Obama is “acting like God” and “has done plenty of things worthy of impeachment,” pointing to proposed new gun laws as a sign of coming Nazi-style tyranny. He has even claimed that the U.S. is just as oppressive as communist China and that the separation of church and state is transforming the country into a secular theocratic system, blaming church-state separation for school shootings.
Huckabee has made a point of urging state and local officials to defy federal law on gay marriage and said that an Arkansas judge who struck down a ballot measure banning same-sex marriage should be impeached.
“Somewhere there will be a governor who will simply say, ‘No, I’m not going to enforce that,’” he said of a possible Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality.
Huckabee has also pledged to resist such a court decision since it would violate “natural law,” warning that the judiciary is becoming a tyrannical body that sees itself as more powerful than the other branches of government and even God Himself. He even starred in a “documentary” organized by radical activist Janet Porter which warned that gay rights will outlaw religion.
Such claims will resonate with Religious Right activists, who regularly make warnings about the threats of gay rights, stoke fears of Big Government and suggest that Obama is a tyrannical leader. As Huckabee told one right-wing forum organized by Porter during his last presidential campaign, in which Porter served in a leadership role, he is not catering to the movement, but is from the movement: