Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Huck asks a low blow question

Just musing, or a deliberate swipe? I'll let readers decide. In my opinion this statement is below the belt, and unacceptable:

On the road to Pella, Huckabee talked about the enthusiasm he now encounters everywhere he goes. For example, he said, his driver in California not only declined payment but also wrote the governor a $50 personal check right on the spot. It was, I thought, a dangerous anecdote to tell within earshot of a professional driver traveling along an icy highway at high speed, but Huckabee was feeling invulnerable, and the driver, I later realized, was already on the governor’s team. Huckabee normally starts his mornings by running 6 to 10 miles and reading a chapter from the Book of Proverbs. Today he was too pressed to do either, but he planned to catch up later. Anyway, he knew much of the day’s assignment, Chapter 3, by heart. ‘‘Trust in the Lord,’’ he quoted, ‘‘and lean not upon thine own understanding.’’ Not a bad motto for a campaign that is still too broke to do any independent polling.

Chapter 3 also contains the admonition to ‘‘keep sound wisdom and discretion.’’ Huckabee is, indeed, a discreet fellow, but he has no trouble making his feelings known. He mentioned how much he respected his fellow candidates John McCain and Rudolph W. Giuliani. The name of his principal rival in Iowa, Mitt Romney, went unmentioned. Romney, a Mormon, had promised that he would be addressing the subject of his religion a few days later. I asked Huckabee, who describes himself as the only Republican candidate with a degree in theology, if he considered Mormonism a cult or a religion. ‘‘I think it’s a religion,’’ he said. ‘‘I really don’t know much about it.’’

I was about to jot down this piece of boilerplate when Huckabee surprised me with a question of his own: ‘‘Don’t Mormons,’’ he asked in an innocent voice, ‘‘believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?’’

OK, now I want to make a point here. Does anyone else find it interesting that the Huckster's critics are focusing on his record, and his intellectual dishonesty with regard to that record, but yet he seems content to make veiled comments in interviews, which leave the viewers/listeners to make up their own mind, and now he takes a direct swipe at Mitt's religion here? I didn't realize that the Huckster had decided to embrace religious bigotry. Isn't there a place in the Bible -- Matthew I believe -- that basically says "Judge not lest ye be judged?"

No matter because Mitt swung back even though it reads more like a turn-the-other-cheek moment:

In an article to be published Sunday in The New York Times, Huckabee, an ordained Southern Baptist minister, asks, "Don't Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?"

Romney, vying to become the first Mormon elected president, declined to answer that question during an interview Wednesday, saying church leaders in Salt Lake City had already addressed the topic.

"But I think attacking someone's religion is really going too far. It's just not the American way, and I think people will reject that," Romney told NBC's "Today" show.

Asked if he believed Huckabee was speaking in a coded language to evangelicals, Romney praised his rival as a "good man trying to do the best he can," but he added, "I don't believe that the people of this country are going to choose a person based on their faith and what church they go to."

Huckabee maintains that his question in the interview was taken out of context. A statement from his campaign said the full context of the exchange shows Huckabee illustrating his unwillingness to answer questions about Mormonism and theological issues.

Um, the out of context defense doesn't fly. I quoted the exchange above, from the piece. The paragraph that follows the exchange goes on to discuss the campaign. He was willing to answer the question. He said he believed it was a religion, then he threw the bomb. Like I said, was it just an inner musing, or was it deliberate. We'll let readers decide, but we personally don't buy that.

We don't buy the out of context excuse either. That's a common dodge amongst people like the Huckster. Look, say what you want about the Huckster, but he's not a true conservative. Later today I'll be posting a collaborative column right her from Marcie and myself on Huckabee. (This was submitted to the Chief over the weekend, but he opted for the other two we submitted.) This man is a disaster if the base is obtuse enough to nominate him. Hillary, Obama, or Edwards will line up to use him as a bongo drum. He is weak on far too many issues, and given his positions on certain things, the Democrats can simply look at voters and ask "If you like him for what he stands for, we stand for the same things so why not vote for us." The Huckster can't stop Hillary. Mitt or Rudy can.

Publius II

ADDENDUM: Over at NRO's The Corner a couple commentators over there have taken note of the fact that the Huckster would know a great deal about Mitt Romney's faith. K-Lo notes an e-mail she received from David Sanders, a journalist in Arkansas:

I have a hard time understanding Huckabee’s claim that he doesn’t know much about Mormonism. I talked to a religion professor at Huckabee’s alma mater this morning, who assured me that Huckabee would have been exposed to enough teaching on Mormonism in college and seminary to have developed solid opinions about the religion.

He also said that in all of Huckabee’s years of pastoring churches he would be very surprised if Huckabee had not preached sermons aimed at sizing up Mormons, as well as other religions. Claiming that he doesn’t know much about Mormonism makes Huckabee's question, which was “asked in an innocent voice,” sound like an innocent question.

It may sound "innocent" enough, but that is disingenuous. Him saying he doesn't know a lot about the LDS faith would be like us saying that, and it's simply not true. We have studied it enough to formulate our own opinions -- opinions, I might add that don't even figure into the question of voting for the president; something that is apparent in the Huckster's baiting tactics. If he keeps playing this, it's going to blow up in his face.

Publius II

UPDATE: Jim Geraghty reports that Huckabee has issued a direct apology to Mitt Romney on this issue:

Big news breaking on CNN, as Huckabee tells Wolf Blitzer: "After the debate today, I went to Mitt Romney and apologized to him."

Huckabee: "He was gracious, I hope he knows that it was sincere."

Huckabee: (paraphrased) If you’ll talk to the reporter, he was shocked, as I was, that that was highlighted out of an 8100 word article...[the reporter] was trying to press my thoughts, to get me to talk about Mitt Romney's religion, and I said I didn’t want to go there. He was telling me things because he’s comparably well-schooled on comparative religions.

The apology is the right move, but I'm going to call horsepuckey on Huckabee's claim that a New York Times reporter knew more about comparitive religions than guy with a theology degree.

I have to agree with Jim on that last point. Besides this seems more than disingenuous given that his campaign issued the statement that he was taken out of context. If that was true, then why issue the apology at all? The reason is that it wasn't out of context. The New York Times used a particularly embarrassing quote and it hurt him badly this morning in the alternative media.

Publius II


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