Mike Huckabee, The Last Standing Neoconservative

12/11/2007 12:54 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

It must be great to be Mike Huckabee. He's the talk of the nation, he's arguably within striking distance of the Republican nomination, and his weight loss makes Jared the Subway guy look downright slothful. Not only that, but when he gets sick, he doesn't have to take all his antibiotics.

You see, Mike Huckabee doesn't believe in evolution. Now, this in and of itself is not unusual--for Americans and Turks. Neoconservative politicians, playing to the uniquely American idea that evolution is somehow incongruent with Christianity, have long done their best to keep the facts about evolution out of US public schools. Or maybe it's just that the mountains of evidence, including the recent mapping of the entire human genome, would leave little time for other studies. To men with Mike Huckabee's set world view, evolution is just a crazy theory--in the same scientific category as atomic theory, cell theory, or that crackpot theory of gravity.

If the Bush years have taught us anything, I would hope it is that it's a really bad idea to elect a leader who chooses to ignore solid evidence in favor of what they feel should be true. The results are evident. Touchy-feely dogma-over-truth politicians like Huckabee have clearly succeeded in hobbling American students, who now lag well behind other nations in the sciences. Yet Huckabee's supporters have embraced these occasionally backwards beliefs, billing him as the one true conservative in the race.

His record, however, just doesn't back that up. After all, it was "Tax Hike Mike" who saw the average Arkansan's tax burden rise from $1,969 to $2,902 during his time as governor. Huckabee's fiscal irresponsibility, paired with his choice of dogma over fact are just two of the many clear warnings that his core political philosophy is far from conservative. These are, in fact, classic signs of the neoconservative.

This neoconservative distance from reality has clearly aided Huckabee in attracting Republicans repelled by the flipping of Rudy and the flopping of Mitt. In a nation that often values resolve over pragmatism, backers are drawn to the steadfast--though often deranged--views of the former Arkansas governor. It's the same argument many made for Bush against Gore, and then Bush against Kerry: he may be dead wrong, but he really believes it. And now it's happening again. And that is exactly why the affable, warm and probably well-meaning governor is so dangerous, especially when it comes to foreign policy.

You see, the neoconservative ideology doesn't just reject the minor details of reality; it also embraces a total worldview based on a falsehood. The narrative they have created and inhabit is one of good guys vs. bad guys, free from the complexities of the real world and all its shades of gray.

Huckabee's public comments have clearly shown that he, like any good neoconservative, lacks a moral hierarchy. The equivalences that result are both hilarious and appalling; from abortion to weight loss, Huckabee finds there aren't many things you can't compare to the Holocaust. To Huckabee, telling people to use condoms is akin to saying it's okay to drive drunk or smack your wife around a little. No matter, though. If Huckabee had his way, people with HIV would be taken out of the general population a long time ago.

Huckabee has also been known to utilize the most classic neoconservative play: blaming the evil other. It isn't Huckabee's fault if you read something bad about him in the papers, it's the paper's. He's compared journalists who accurately covered his tenure as governor to the disgraced reporters Jayson Blair and Janet Cooke. He even cost the state $15,000 in a settlement (not counting untold legal costs) after he pushed a critical journalist off the air.

Even the usually-conservative Arkansas News wrote of the governor:

"Through the years, Huckabee... has been referred to as petty, egotistical and thin-skinned, and questions have been raised about his ethics... The governor has been cautioned and fined by the state Ethics Commission for issues related to gifts and he has sued the commission over rules that limit officials' acceptance of gifts."

But there are also other, jarringly un-amusing examples of his bizarre, white-and-black-hats version of morality.

In the neoconservative mind, Bill Clinton was a bad guy. So, when Wayne Dumond was convicted of raping a distant relative of Clinton in 1984, many of them--most notably Steve Dunleavy of the New York Post, hack author Guy Peel and Mike Huckabee--somehow came to believe that Dumond must then be a good guy. Although Clinton recused himself from the case, the fanatical Clinton-haters, Huckabee included, still felt Clinton must have played a role in Dumond's harsh sentencing. If you're curious how any sentence for the rape of a 17 year old girl can be deemed harsh, you'd have to ask Huckabee. When he became governor, Huckabee pressured the parole board until Dumond was released.

"My desire," he wrote the convicted rapist, "is that you be released from prison. I feel that parole is the best way for your reintroduction to society to take place." It turned out that Dumond had struck gold when he raped the governor's distant cousin; that stroke of luck freed him to rape and murder Carol Sue Shields. He died in prison, while awaiting charges for the murder of yet another woman, Sara Andrasek. Andrasek was expecting her first child.

I wonder, if it were not himself, how Huckabee's absolutist morality would judge a man with five ethics admonitions, who bullied the press mercilessly and cost two women their lives by freeing a rapist for political purposes? I don't know, but I'm pretty sure he'd find a holocaust analogy in there somewhere.

This is not to imply that if Mike Huckabee were elected president, he would be freeing murderers and rapists left and right. But it is one example of how the warped worldview has already brought tragedy to the lives of innocent Americans. There are many more.

"The awful thing about life," Jean Renoir said in Rules of the Game, "is everyone has their reasons." It's a line I'm often reminded of when I see nations do horrible things, or struggle to make peace. Luckily for neocons like Huckabee, life isn't so complicated for them. There are good guys and there are bad guys, and nothing short of all out war can change that. This, my friends, is why the next president, Republican or Democrat, must not be a neoconservative.

Every time they've been handed the presidency, the neoconservatives have dug holes so deep that it takes America 20 years to climb back out.

In 1988, Gorbachev attempted to strike a deal for the Soviet pull-out of Afghanistan: the Soviets would exit the nation if the Reagan Administration would stop arming the Islamic insurgents long enough for the government to stabilize. Quite famously, the US was having none of that. The evil Soviets would be defeated by the heroic, US-armed freedom fighters--you know, like Osama bin Laden--and democracy would rain down from the heavens under their wise and just leadership. Gorbachev warned that the situation was a bit more complicated, and that without US aide, democracy would not be the result of their pullout. But why would any self-respecting neoconservative listen to The Evil Empire?

Unfortunately, Gorbachev was right, the Reagan Administration was wrong, and post-occupation Afghanistan became a terrorist breeding ground.

Today, we face the same situation, only with the combat boot on the other foot. Another neoconservative, George W. Bush, decided that the best way to combat Islamic terrorism in the Middle East was to remove a secular power-hog from the region. After all, he was a bad guy, too, wasn't he? Unfortunately, it seems that good guys and the bad guys don't fall so easily into groups, regardless of how little room for variation exists in the neoconservative mind. Now, we are trapped in an insurgency that the Bush Administration insists is fueled by outside governments, and Republicans in key states are rallying behind yet another neoconservative.

Will our next president be able to work with other nations to ensure a stable Iraq and a US exit? Or will we have Huckabee to lead us into confrontation with the next great neoconservative "evil"?