Mike Huckabee is doubling down on his support for Todd Akin, the man he helped win the Republican Senate nomination. Here, in part, is what Huckabee had to say on Akin’s behalf:
The Party’s leaders have for reasons that aren’t rational, left [Akin] behind on the political battlefield, wounded and bleeding, a casualty of his self-inflicted, but not intentional wound. In a Party that supposedly stands for life, it was tragic to see the carefully orchestrated and systematic attack on a fellow Republican. Not for a moral failure or corruption or a criminal act, but for a misstatement which he contritely and utterly repudiated. I was shocked by GOP leaders and elected officials who rushed so quickly to end the political life of a candidate over a mistaken comment in an interview. This was a serious mistake, but it was blown out of proportion not by the left, but by Akin’s own Republican Party. Is this what the party really thinks of principled pro-life advocates? Do we forgive and forget the verbal gaffes of Republicans who are “conveniently pro-life” for political advantage, but crucify one who truly believes that every life is sacred?
. . . If Todd Akin loses the Senate seat, I will not blame Todd Akin. He made his mistake, but was man enough to admit it and apologize. I’m waiting for the apology from whoever the genius was on the high pedestals of our party who thought it wise to not only shoot our wounded, but run over him with tanks and trucks and then feed his body to the liberal wolves. It wasn’t just Todd Akin that was treated with contempt by the thinly veiled attack on Todd Akin. It was all the people who have faithfully knocked doors, made calls, and made sacrificial contributions to elect Republicans because we thought we were welcome in the party. Todd Akin owned his mistake. Who will step up and admit the effort being made to discredit Akin and apologize for the sleazy way it’s been handled?
I’ve always believed and still do, that if you don’t honor your friendships, you don’t honor yourself. And I consider Todd a friend. So I will join Todd as often as I can, in his fight for our Party’s pro-life policies, traditional marriage and our efforts to rein in the massive expansion of government under President Obama. Todd is being systematically scourged for one thing he said. Is that more important than what Claire McCaskill has DONE over her 6 years in the Senate? If you’d like to join the fight, and help defeat a Democrat Senator standing in the way of a conservative majority, I encourage you to join me. The party has decided it won’t help. In fact, it has decided that it will try to cut off the supply lines to Akin to pressure him to exit and let the party bosses overturn the voters of Missouri and pick their own candidate. If this can happen to Todd Akin, who is next?
In a way, Huckabee’s displeasure with Republican leaders is understandable. They are treating Akin’s comment as if it were a crime, not just a very stupid comment from which Akin has retreated and for which he has apologized. And, of course, Akin remains vastly preferable to his opponent. Sen. McCaskill.
But Republican leaders aren’t attacking Akin “for reasons that aren’t rational,” as Huckabee claims. Their push to persuade and/or induce Akin to leave the Senate race is grounded in the very rational desire to avoid defeat in a contest they were likely to win until Akin spouted junk science, and to prevent the damage from spilling over into other races including, potentially, the presidential race. In short, the outrage is grounded in the desire to defeat President Obama and his agenda.
But this isn’t Mike Huckabee’s priority. He remains what he always has been, an ardent social conservative first, with nothing else truly coming in second.
As we noted repeatedly during the 2008 campaign, Huckabee’s credentials as a fiscal conservative were weak, as demonstated during his long tenure Arkansas’s governor. And when it came to foreign policy, some of Huckabee’s pronouncements were positively Carteresque.
Since 2008, Huckabee has learned the words to the fiscal and national security conservative tunes, as befits a conservative talk show host who may still harbor wider ambitions. But the only real music to Huckabee’s ears is that of hard core social conservatism. That, and perhaps a related, badly flawed understanding of what constitutes appropriate forgiveness.
Indeed, Huckabee cares so little about the effort to defeat Barack Obama that he indulges in over-the-top rhetoric, the likely effect of which is to sour some social conservatives on the Romney-Ryan ticket. Recall this statement from the passage quoted above:
It wasn’t just Todd Akin that was treated with contempt by the thinly veiled attack on Todd Akin. It was all the people who have faithfully knocked doors, made calls, and made sacrificial contributions to elect Republicans because we thought we were welcome in the party.
Social conservatives are, of course, welcome in the Republican Party; indeed, as much as any other faction, they are at the core of the Republican Party. But socially conservative candidates who behave too stupidly to remain electable aren’t welcome as Party standard bearers in important, winnable elections. Akin need not be replaced by a non-socially conservative candidate, nor should he be. He should be a replaced by a candidate intelligent enough to articulate pro-life positions without all hell breaking loose. It isn’t that difficult. Paul Ryan has done it, and he’s now the Party’s nominee for Vice President.
It’s nice that Todd Akin “owned up to his mistake.” Now he should own up to the consequences of that mistake – always the real test of character in these situations – and abandon his Senate race to the extent the evidence shows he’s unlikely to win it.
And Huckabee, if he wants to remain an important and respected figure within the Party, should encourage Akin to take that path.
Instead, he insists that he isn’t listening to “noise” about new deadlines and alternative candidates. Maybe it’s time for conservatives concerned about defeating Obama and thwarting his leftist agenda to stop listening to Mike Huckabee.