Hucka-bad for the GOP

Mike Huckabee had a rough week last week.  And rightly so.  Unfortunately, as a spokesmouth for the Republican Party whether he–or we–like it or not, those of us who care deeply about our country had a bad week as well.

First, the former Arkansas governor took the “birther” bait from a talk show host and went off on an ill-advised and inaccurate radio rant about the origins of President Barack Obama.  Now, you and I both know that the president has been less than forthcoming when it comes to records from his earlier years, and you and I both know that there are significant questions about the nature of his upbringing, but one thing we do know is that Barack Obama was not raised in Kenya.  And, yet, Mike Huckabee said this:

I would love to know more. What I know is troubling enough. And one thing that I do know is his having grown up in Kenya, his view of the Brits, for example, very different than the average American. When he gave the bust back to the Brits –

George Will was right to blast the governor:

The most recent vibrator is Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas who won the 2008 Republican caucuses in Iowa and reached that year’s national convention with more delegates than Mitt Romney, and who might run again. Huckabee, now a Fox News host, was asked by Steve Malzberg, a talk radio host, this:

“Don’t you think it’s fair also to ask [Barack Obama] . . . how come we don’t have a health record, we don’t have a college record, we don’t have a birth cer – why, Mr. Obama, did you spend millions of dollars in courts all over this country to defend against having to present a birth certificate. It’s one thing to say, I’ve – you’ve seen it, goodbye. But why go to court and send lawyers to defend against having to show it? Don’t you think we deserve to know more about this man?”

Huckabee should have replied, “I’ve seen paranoia, goodbye.” Instead, he said:

“I would love to know more. What I know is troubling enough. And one thing that I do know is his having grown up in Kenya. . . .”

Huckabee thereupon careened off into the (he thinks) related subject of Obama having sent back to the British Embassy in Washington a bust of Winston Churchill that Obama’s predecessor had displayed in the Oval Office: “. . . a great insult to the British. But then if you think about it, his perspective as growing up in Kenya with a Kenyan father and grandfather, their view of the Mau Mau revolution in Kenya is very different than ours because he probably grew up hearing that the British were a bunch of imperialists.”

The architects and administrators of the British Empire were imperialists? Perish the thought. A contemporary of William Jennings Bryan once said of the three-time Democratic presidential nominee, “One could drive a prairie schooner through any part of his argument and never scrape against a fact.” But an absence of facts means there is no argument.

A spokesman for Huckabee dutifully lied, saying his employer “simply misspoke”: “The governor meant to say the president grew up in Indonesia.” Obama did not really grow up there – he spent just five of his first 18 years there and the other 13 years in Hawaii. But obviously Huckabee, with his dilation on the Mau Maus, was deliberately referring to Kenya. Unless Huckabee thinks the Mau Maus were Indonesians, which he might count as another “one thing that I do know.”

Much more troubling, to Huckabee and to the Republican Party and actual conservatives as a whole, was perhaps the most ill-timed and ill-advised statement of all.

One of the things that’s troubling is that people see a Natalie Portman or some other Hollywood starlet who boasts of, ‘Hey look, you know, we’re having children, we’re not married, but we’re having these children, and they’re doing just fine.’ But there aren’t really a lot of single moms out there who are making millions of dollars every year for being in a movie.  Most single moms are very poor, uneducated, can’t get a job, and if it weren’t for government assistance, their kids would be starving to death and never have health care. And that’s the story that we’re not seeing.”

But, is Huckabee right?  Sure.  Kids born out of wedlock are a a distinct disadvantage, and most are living with less for having not being born into a traditional nuclear family.  But good God, man, whoever is advising Mike Huckabee in terms of public relations should be fired.

It doesn’t take a genius, or a Frank Luntz poll wheelie-machine for that matter, to understand that so-called independent voters can make or break a candidacy and election.  In advance of 2012 and what could very well be a difficult election if the president is able to successfully run to the center (and, with him, bring a media all too ready to conveniently forget what happened during his first two years in office), the GOP is going to need to look as attractive as possible to those purportedly independent voters, many of whom consider themselves fiscally responsible and socially permissive.

Wanna know one way to alienate those voters?  It’s simple:  go on the attack against America’s Sweetheart.

Right now, say what you will about her acting chops (she did the best she could have done with George Lucas’ writing, people!), but Natalie Portman is the America’s Sweetheart du jour.  It has only been a week and a day since she took to the stage at the Academy Award, balanced that statuette on her adorably protruding belly, and allowed those Americans who pay more attention to Hollywood than Washington to bask in her pre-maternal glow.  Every week throughout awards season, people across the country want to see what she’s wearing; pregnant women from coast to coast are looking at their own bellies and at her, wondering if they could pull off the same look, wondering if they could smile while standing for an hour on the red carpet in skyscraper heels.  Calling that pregnancy “troubling” is troubling in itself, in more ways than one.

What’s troubling about Mike Huckabee’s statement goes beyond that statement’s effect upon pregnant and sentimental voters.  To me, what’s most troubling is the inherent hypocrisy in such a statement.

Look, for a moment, at the current political climate.  Look at how conservatives across the country have fought to show America that there is more to conservatism than anti-gay marriage rhetoric and the family values statements of old.  The Tea Party has taken the conservative message and made it “cool” to be a fiscal hawk.  A year or two ago, the teacher’s union protests in Wisconsin would have engendered sentiment from the masses – how dare that evil conservative governor do what he’s doing?, they might have asked.  Now, because of the successful re-branding of conservatism, those same masses understand that conservatives in turn understand what’s at stake in our growing fiscal crisis.

Cutting budgets is in.  Bloated spending is out.  People across the country are finally beginning to understand the correct role and function of the federal government.  It is not the federal government’s place to tell us whether or not we should purchase health insurance.  It is not the federal government’s place to build high-speed rail.  The more the federal government let’s us run our own businesses and live our own lives, the better.  That’s the message that the American people are getting.

And then, there’s Mike Huckabee, who thinks it is somehow his place to publicly condemn a girl for getting pregnant.  How are we supposed to earn the trust of the American people by maintaining that conservatives understand the merits of a laissez faire approach to governance while simultaneously enduring self-described conservatives inserting themselves into someone else’s private life?

I’ve had enough.  This time around, the values voters need to understand that their values will never, ever, ever have a chance to be implemented or even heard if the left is out of power, and they need to understand that in order to get there, it is fiscal concerns which must–and will–win the day.  If a candidate wants to successfully challenge this particular incumbent, he must prioritize his message according to the concerns of the American people, and those American people who are out of work, or underwater on their homes, or struggling to keep their businesses afloat — they don’t care whether Natalie Portman is pregnant; they just want her to make good movies so that, a few months down the road, they can rent them for $1.00 from the nearest Red Box and escape from the realities of their lives, even if just for an hour or two.

For the sake of the entire GOP field, I hope that Huckabee’s suspension of his exploratory committee is permanent.  He, and others who cannot prioritize according to reality, need to stay home this primary season.

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Comments

  1. Gail B. says:

    Jeff, I agree with you on all points, but I cannot wait to see you in public office. I just hope I live long enough to see you in the White House. You, sir, are outstanding!

  2. Randy Wills says:

    I certainly am glad to see you back in the game and at the keyboard, Jeff. Life turned out to be awfully dull with you cloistered somewhere, boning up on Latin phrases and judicial precedents.

    As for Gov. Huckabee’s comments, although I can’t argue with his position on Hollywood’s celebration of out-of-wedlock births, as well as other deviant behaviors which clearly have negative socio/economic consequences, he failed to recognize his role and the venue on which he was appearing. As a potential presidential candidate, his comments were, to say the least, counterproductive. As a pastor, fine, but as a presidential candidate, not so much. In my opinion, the federal government should play almost no role in personal moral issues. The consequences of such behaviors are self-evident at the personal level and should be dealt with at that level.

    And as for the “birther” issue, to get sucked into that argument shows extremely poor judgement on Gov. Huckabee’s part. I think that he makes a perfectly congenial TV talk show host. I hope that he shows better judgement in that respect and continues in that role.

    Now please don’t ask me whether I would vote for Gov. Huckabee if he were to be, against all odds, the Republican nominee. Assuming that Pence means it when he says that he will not run, I may join the Allen West draft effort. When asked if he would threaten an enemy captive by firing his .45 along side the captive’s ear again, knowing in hindsight the consequences to his military career, he said (in effect if not verbatim) “Absolutely. I’d walk through hell carrying a can of gasoline for my men”. That’s my kind of leader. I wouldn’t follow our current president though a Boy Scout Camporee, but, as an ex-GI, I’d carry Col. West’s gas can for him.

    Randy

  3. Ima SoBelle says:

    Jeff, AMEN!!!!! Huckabee really put his foot/feet into it this past week. He is not true presidential material, just popular with some folks. Thanks for putting this into perspective. Also, I think Ms. Portman is engaged to her boyfriend. Things are just a bit out of order for them. There are certainly many more important things to be concerned about right now.

    It is great to have you back on the page again.

  4. Jeff Schreiber says:

    Randy — I am very much in Allen West’s camp. I like me some Herman Cain, too.

  5. EADG says:

    Like I have said before in here, this man should just stick to playing bass guitar.

  6. nana3 says:

    Jeff,
    I agree with your premise that Huckabee has certainly not distinquished himself with his responses to these situations. I am not a supporter of Huckabee for President but I do believe he can be effective as a conservative talk show host. Like you, I am disgusted by the lying and hypocrisy..why can’t they just admit the truth and go on? So, many of us agree that Huckabee has ‘issues’…my question is “Who doesn’t”? Who is the ‘purist’ among the potential candidates who will be safe when the left begins the trashing and scrutinizing of every word they have uttered or delving into their past to find something they can use against them? Isn’t it ironic that the Huckabee comment about Obama growing up in Kenya is met with more disdain than the fact that Obama has intentionally concealed and refused to release important information regarding his background? Huckabee has damaged his credibility to the extent that he may no longer be considered by many as a viable candidate while Obama continues to devastate this country and never bats an eye if anyone even questions him. I don’t have a clue yet as to who the Republican candidate for 2012 will be…whether it is Allen West, Palin, Gingrich, Pence, Pawlenty etc. we have some great choices but someone will bring up issues about them that could wreck their candidacy because the MSM will hammer them just like they are doing to Huckabee and have done to Palin. There is no perfect candidate and everyone at one time or another says things they wish they could take back. Maybe if we just confronted the issue head-on in the beginning and admit we were WRONG instead of dancing around and trying to clean it up, we would be better off in the end. We would be in contrast to the dimwits if we admitted that we were WRONG because they will NEVER admit that anything they do is wrong. I believe that Obama has been conditioned to lie and deceive whenever necessary and never change his expression. It does not bother him at all. The difference is that when he lies, no one in his party or the MSM holds him accountable but conservatives are more likely to criticize our own when warranted which is as it should be. Honesty and integrity should be expected from members of both parties.

  7. Tom Arnold says:

    HUCKABEE IS A FRAUD! IF HE, HUCKABEE, IS THE BEST THAT WE, CONSERVATIVES, CAN DO, THEN WE ARE IN TROUBLE FOR 2012!

  8. graypanther says:

    If a candidate wants to successfully challenge this particular incumbent, he must prioritize his message according to the concerns of the American people, and those American people who are out of work, or underwater on their homes, or struggling to keep their businesses afloat — they don’t care whether Natalie Portman is pregnant.

    Absolutely. I don’t particularly care whether anybody is pregnant, providing only that she can support the kid and make a good home for it with her own money. But.

    By taking that tack you illuminate a broader point. The deficit and/or the public debt may be the properly most profound concern of conservatives at this point. But the political and social heterogeneity of the Republican base – starkly in contrast to the social homogeneity of the Democrat base – means that, while social issues may not be enough to elect any president, they cannot be ignored. There are plenty of Republicans, especially in the Midwest, who think that social issues correctly should be the primary concern of any candidate; and the Republicans cannot win in 2012 without those voters.

    The Democrat party has it easy with its base – predominantly secular, predominantly socially laissez-faire, at ease with the idea of government as a driver of the economy, and not strongly attached to America’s historical status as an exceptional country. Compared to Republicans, Democrats are pretty much all alike, and we probably won’t see them splitting into two parties between now and the next election.

  9. Randy Wills says:

    To “Tom Arnold” @ 4:03 PM:

    There may be a question of competence, but “fraud”? Upon what do you base that claim?

    It is possible, though not likely, that Gov. Huckabee will be the Republican nominee in 2012. Are you saying that you would prefer Obama? As “nana3″ says, regardless of who the nominee is, major segments of the population are going to have to overlook “issues” or we’ll face another four years of the most dangerous (in my opinion) president that has ever held that office.

    What are you going to do?

    Randy

  10. Anonymous says:

    4:12 we’ll do what we had to do in 2008, vote for the lesser of two evils, while wishing one of the other contenders had made it in.

  11. Anonymous says:

    One man’s “birther bait” is another man’s “strict constitutional constructionist bait”

  12. Gail B. says:

    Randy said, “When asked if he would threaten an enemy captive by firing his .45 along side the captive’s ear again, knowing in hindsight the consequences to his military career, he said (in effect if not verbatim) “Absolutely. I’d walk through hell carrying a can of gasoline for my men”. That’s my kind of leader. I wouldn’t follow our current president though a Boy Scout Camporee, but, as an ex-GI, I’d carry Col. West’s gas can for him.”

    You’d have to fight me to get it! Col. West has everything it takes to be POTUS! And, he can stand on his feet and talk. When he told the CAIR executive what was and wasn’t in the Quoran, cited examples with dates of Islamic terrorist attacks on America, and told him “Don’t blow sunshine up my butt,” I had all I needed to know about that gentleman. He is presidential material, and he’s made of the same cloth as Ronald Reagan insofar as his conservatism and demeanor are concerned. Level-headed, smart, capable, and has my vote if he should get the nomination.

  13. Rob in Katy says:

    I would just like, going forward, that all candidates show the same ID i do to get a DL, Passport, buy a gun, get a “Top Secret” security clearance hell we all thought they all did anyway, lets just make it formal. It is job with pretty sensitive info.

  14. roadrunner says:

    Who the heck is Natalie Portman anyway, and like I care! Come on people! Get real! The Huck is always going to be the Arkansas Preacher. It’s what he is, certainly not presidential! Keep looking!

  15. Bill Fitzpatrick says:

    When I read articles such as yours above, I began to wonder who paid for this “hatchet job” on a respectable person: who is well qualified to be POTUS and who has moral values not known to some of the social elite. How much did you get for this piece of work; hope it was more than 30 pieces of silver?

  16. Jeff Schreiber says:

    Bill, it’s not that I don’t like Mike. I do. I also think that he’s one heck of a speaker — I first saw him in person in June 2007, and he was incredible. He is, however, what I like to call a “Smoking Ban Republican.”

    A smoking ban, for instance, is fantastic for anybody who likes to be healthy and anyone who likes to come home from a bar without smelling like an ashtray. As great as a smoking ban may be, it’s not something that should be legislated — it should be taken up by voters on Election Day.

    Mike Huckabee is a Smoking Ban Republican. He touts the merits of a limited government, and then wants to tell people–through new law–where they can and cannot smoke, what they should and should not eat, etc. It’s hypocritical, and it’s tiresome. It’s a shame, too, because he seems like one heck of a guy, and he is an absolutely gifted communicator.

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