Politics & Policy

Holy Man & Heretic

The political gospel according to Mike Huckabee.

The Republican presidential race has devolved into holy war. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney recently told voters he believes “Jesus Christ is the son of God and the savior of mankind.” Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee subsequently asked a writer, “Don’t Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?”

How this will cut taxes or kill terrorists remains elusive. These theological niceties also distract from the urgent task of examining Huckabee’s Earthly record. The ordained Baptist minister has the preaching chops to wow the Religious Right, and his humorous, easygoing presence wins converts. But his background and positions on many core Republican issues should scare the hell out of GOP primary voters.

‐ Huckabee just won the endorsement of the National Education Association’s New Hampshire branch. America’s top teachers’ union opposes virtually every school-choice reform known to man. This is the Granite State NEA’s first Republican endorsement. (It also backed Democrat Hillary Clinton.) Huckabee courted the union and is the only Republican presidential hopeful to address it. Huckabee also was the only such Republican at the union’s July national meeting in Philadelphia.

“I know there are some who think a Republican coming to the NEA is like Michael Moore going to the NRA,” Huckabee said. He continued, “Radical Islamic jihadism is not the only threat to America’s future.” He added: “If we do not have an educated young America coming forward, we will not have any kind of security.” He called an uneducated populace “a form of terror,” against which he would “unleash weapons of mass instruction.”

According to the Sioux City Journal, “Huckabee said he would make arts and music education tested curriculum and provide federal funds to do so.” (No Cello Left Behind?)

‐ Huckabee’s tax record is an unattractive mix. He deserves credit for an $80 million tax cut in 1997 and reductions in capital-gains taxes and property-tax-hike limits in 1997. Conversely, he signed higher gas taxes (up 16 percent), sales taxes (up 37 percent), cigarette taxes (up 103 percent), a $5.25 daily tax on private nursing-home beds, and more.

“Overall, Huckabee’s substantial tax hikes far surpassed his modest tax cuts, with the average tax burden increasing by a whopping 47% over his tenure,” the Club for Growth reports.

‐ CFG also found that Huckabee’s state spending swelled 65.3 percent from 1996 to 2004 (triple the inflation rate), while state employee headcount rose 20 percent. Huckabee backed ARKids First, a government health plan for children.

Overall, Huckabee’s fiscal policy earned him a D on the Cato Institute’s gubernatorial report card.

‐ Despite pleas by previous victims that Wayne Dumond be kept jailed, Huckabee promoted the rapist’s release. Once free, he raped and fatally suffocated Carol Sue Shields, 39, and allegedly raped and killed Sara Andrasek, 23. Dumond died while jailed for Shields’ death before facing justice in Andrasek’s murder.

This was no isolated case. Between 1996 and 2004, the Arkansas Leader’s Garrick Feldman calculated, Huckabee issued 703 pardons and commutations, more than his three predecessors combined. Huckabee’s turn-the-other-cheek policy toward serious criminals outstripped that era’s 624 clemencies in surrounding states: Louisiana (213), Mississippi (24), Missouri (79), Oklahoma (178), Tennessee (32), and Texas (98).

‐ On terrorism, Huckabee opposes waterboarding, even though it finally helped U.S interrogators crack three top al-Qaeda agents who ratted out at least nine other terrorists and helped stymie “dozens of attacks,” according to former CIA officer John Kiriakou.

Huckabee also wants to close the Guantanamo Bay terrorist detention center and turn al-Qaeda operatives into America’s newest immigrants.

“My concern is that the facility has become a distraction from our Global War on Terror,” Huckabee stated December 4. “Other facilities, like Fort Leavenworth, can serve the same purpose without the controversy.” In fact, controversy would accelerate as radical-Muslims detainees arrived. Miranda rights? Televised interviews? Conjugal visits from Code Pink? Visualize the possibilities.

‐ The Arkansas Ethics Commission sanctioned Huckabee in five of its 14 probes. The Politico reported that Huckabee used a gubernatorial operating account to finance a dog house, panty hose, and visits to Taco Bell. The Commission found that Huckabee failed to report paying himself $14,000 from his 1992 U.S. Senate campaign, $43,000 from his 1994 lieutenant governor’s bid, and $23,500 from Action America, his non-profit.

Huckabee accepted gifts as if every day were Christmas. A $200 stadium blanket, $250 in dental care, a $600 chainsaw, and a $3,700 pair of cowboy boots were among 300 gratuities Huckabee accepted totaling $130,000. Like the Clintons loading their moving van with White House antiques, Huckabee tried to claim for himself some $70,000 in furniture donated to the governor’s mansion.

Though already married 32 years, wedding registries at Dillard’s and Target let friends donate roughly $7,000 in gifts that the Huckabees selected for the home they occupied after departing the governor’s mansion.


Though already married 32 years, wedding registries at Dillard’s and Target let friends donate roughly $7,000 in gifts that the Huckabees selected for the home they occupied after departing the governor’s mansion.

Huckabee set eyebrows darting when he spent $13,000 in tax money to destroy the hard drives in almost 100 computers in his office. Alas, dead discs tell no tales.

Quin Hillyer — my old friend, colleague, and American Spectator columnist — has encouraged journalists and readers to pay attention to the man behind the dimples. Hillyer astutely contrasts the top two choices among recently surveyed GOP voters:

We now see more and more that Huck is the diametric opposite of Rudy Giuliani on every issue under the sun. Rudy is known, of course, for being tough (wisely so) on criminals and on successfully making once-dangerous New York into a safe place. Rudy is a tax cutter and a fiscal conservative; Huck is a tax hiker and a big spender. Rudy is tough on foreign policy; Huck has no clue about foreign policy but his tendency is to be Jimmy Carter-like. And of course, in the one area where conservatives may give Huck the advantage, Huck is pro-life while Rudy isn’t. But again, they are opposites.

Mike Huckabee is smooth, relaxed, and quick-witted. We soon will learn if that is enough to trump Republican heresy on education, taxes, spending, crime, terrorism, and ethics.

– Deroy Murdock is a New York-based columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University.

Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor, a contributor to National Review Online, and a senior fellow with the London Center for Policy Research.


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