Thursday, December 20, 2007

Huckster Huckabee

Ordained Baptist minister Mike Huckabee has hit upon an effective strategy in the race for the GOP presidential nomination.... keep the focus on religion.... this pleases the religious right base and keeps the talk away from his record.

Like his ethics problems when he was governor of Arkansas..... 16 complaints before the Arkansas Ethics Commission resulting in five violations including using campaign funds to pay for a Gospel Fest event, or cash that was received and unreported.

Or, paroling a rapist whose guilt Huckabee questioned, pressuring the parole board for his release. Huckabee, shaving the truth, says the parole board members were appointed by his predecessors. He fails to mention that he reappointed two board members, one just days before he voted with three other members to set the rapist free. The rapist subsequently murdered a woman in Missouri.

As governor of Arkansas, Huckabee issued more commutations and pardons.... over 1033 during his nearly eleven years in office..... than all of the six neighboring states combined including the usually never reduced sentences of murderers serving life without parole.

And, Huckabee's recent strong stand on illegal immigration is counter to his record. He battled conservatives in his own party who were pushing for stricter state-level measures. He opposed proof of legal status when applying for state services and proof of citizenship when registering to vote.... calling these requirements un-Christian and accusing the sponsors of drinking a different "Jesus juice."

He also tried but failed to make children of illegal immigrants eligible for state-funded scholarships and in-state tuition to Arkansas colleges.

Huckabee also touts that he cut taxes, but fails to point out that he raised fuel and sales taxes and other state charges leading him to be nicknamed "Hucka-fee."

But.... how is he presenting his record? He crusades under the label "CHRISTIAN LEADER" with the mantra "Faith doesn't just influence me, it really defines me."

Huckabee's stump speech is more sermon mixed with homilies and crowd pleasing political promises. At campaign stops, his introductions include, "Here's a guy who fears God."

It's pure praise God and pass the plate.... and vote for me, Huckabee.

Opponent Mitt Romney has been indulging in own God talk, assuring Iowans that God loves them. Perhaps most jawdroppingly, in a speech on his Mormonism in early December, Romney preached that "freedom requires religion," proclaiming his allegiance with "any person who has knelt in prayer to the Almighty."

This brought the boogieman response from Huckabee that Mormons believe Jesus and the devil are brothers. Very Christian.

All of this political preaching has led WaPo's Dana Milbank to ask and answer, "Is This Heaven? No, it's Iowa."

We say unbelievably, "Are these revival crusades? No, they are presidential campaigns."

But, as long as the GOP hucksters aren't called out for placing belief front and center.... obscuring their records and agendas... it'll be all God, all of the time.

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