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December 07, 2007

Huckabee's "Egregious Subtlety"

Charles Krauthammer gives Mike Huckabee a good thwack. Again, welcome to the race, governor.

Huckabee has been asked about this view that Mormonism is a cult. He dodges and dances. "If I'm invited to be the president of a theological school, that'll be a perfectly appropriate question," he says, "but to be the president of the United States, I don't know that that's going to be the most important issue that I'll be facing when I'm sworn in."

Hmmm. So it is an issue, Huckabee avers. But not a very important one.

And he's not going to pronounce upon it. Nice straddle, leaving the question unanswered and still open -- the kind of maneuver one comes to expect from slick former governors of Arkansas lusting for the presidency.

And by Huckabee's own logic, since he is not running for head of a theological college, what is he doing proclaiming himself a "Christian leader" in an ad promoting himself for president?

Emphasis in the original.

Read the whole thing. It seems this issue is starting to break Romney's way. His speech has people asking why he had to give it, and looking at the motivations of voters in Iowa and South Carolina instead of Romney’s Mormonism. This makes me wish Huckabee had taken a moment to think of the long-term repercussions of using anti-Mormon sentiment to fuel his rise. Every day he does not strongly condemn the anti-Mormon calls made in his name is another day he reinforces the worst stereotypes about evangelical voters. His weak-tea denouncements combined with the subtle (and not-so-subtle) contrasts of his faith with that of Romney's is turning this from an issues-oriented campaign into a faith-off.

Ignored are Huckabee's views on taxation, the proper role of government, illegal immigration and as we're beginning to see...his honesty about his record.

On his website, Huckabee's tagline is "Faith Family Freedom." I share Huckabee's faith, but after Romney's speech, find myself agreeing more with a Mormon about how that faith should guide, instead of direct, one's political beliefs.

Semi-Dissent [Ace]: But only semi.

If Huckabee had nothing at all to do with stoking anti-Mormon sentiment, I'd say he had absolutely no obligation at all to help Romney out by stating that one's religion shouldn't be a factor. For one thing, there is a very real feeling among many voters that Mormonism is a cult in very bad theological error; Huckabee would be hurting himself among such voters by claiming, against his own beliefs (presumably) and the beliefs of many would-be supporters, that Mormonism is not really any different from Lutheranism.

For another thing, it's just not a candidate's obligation to give up an advantage, even an arguably unfair one, over a rival.

However that all presumes Huckabee had nothing to do with the anti-Mormon push-polls and the like, which I don't presume. We know his supporters are responsible for some of them and he refuses to condemn them; when asked about the last round of anti-Mormon calls, he was the only candidate to not outright deny involvement.

So it's a bit like one's duty to aid someone hit by a car. If someone's lying in the street dying from a hit and run you had nothing to do with, legally you're allowed to drive on by without rendering aid. (Morally, of course, it's a different story.) But if you were actually the driver responsible for the hit and run, you are required to render aid, and if the victim should die due to your inaction, you could face murder charges.

My take of course doesn't matter as Huckabee is going to continue hitting the Jesus Button and pulling the Satanic Cult of Mormon lever throughout the campaign, and it's probably going to continue working for him.


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posted by Slublog at 10:08 AM

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