When Gov. Mike Huckabee sat down for an interview with student journalists at The College of New Jersey last week, perhaps he wasn't expecting to be challenged or criticized. Perhaps he assumed he could simply muse about the life of a former presidential candidate, toss in a few pleasant anecdotes, and call it a day -- all the while making off with a $25,000 check for a short evening's work.
But as Editor-in-Chief of TCNJ's alternative newsmagazine, The Perspective, I thought we'd get our money's worth. Huckabee is widely regarded for an amiable, television-ready presentation that has earned him accolades even from those who find his politics objectionable. But beneath the veneer of his Fox News smile and charming Southern drawl, Huckabee adheres to the same old odious conservative social mantras that so many in our generation are rejecting as bigoted nonsense.
A former Baptist preacher, Huckabee has attempted to subtly distinguish himself as a kinder alternative to Pat Robertson-style firebrands of the Christian Right. In this way, he maintains a profitable brand name. But without much provocation in our interview, Huckabee revealed that the friendly image he projects is not indicative of where his true beliefs lie.
Perhaps he did not consider that his comments to a student publication might eventually become national news, and thus was a bit unpolished. Or maybe he is seldom made to answer for the hateful and hopelessly skewed logic that for him justifies continued discrimination toward the LGBT community. But in any event, the interview resulted in his drawing parallels between same-sex marriage and incest. "Children are not puppies," he said in response to why he supported a law prohibiting gays and lesbians from becoming adoptive parents in Arkansas. He also had choice words for Michael Steele and Mitt Romney; I would invite you to read the full article.
In a desperate attempt to quell the furor his incendiary comments produced, Huckabee has entered damage-control mode. He has resorted to petty ad hominem attacks intended to cast doubt upon our credibility as a student publication. "The young college student hopefully will find a career other than journalism," he said of me on his website, claiming that his views were "grossly distorted." It is telling that he has never claimed to be misquoted, but in any event, we've decided to post the audio from the interview.
If distortion means simply reporting what the governor said, I suppose we are guilty.
Huckabee also claims that he "offered his support" for Michael Steele, and did not "rip into him" as stated in our article. Here are Huckabee's full comments on Steele:
Q: Do you think Michael Steele should resign as RNC chairman after the revelations last week that money from donors was spent at this bondage-themed strip club?
A: Let's just say this, it's indefensible the way that some of the money has been spent. Whether he should resign is a question really for the RNC and I'm not a member so I'm not going to get into that without --
Q: He's the head of the party though --
A: -- Oh yeah, and I think what's happened is horrible. The question is how is he going to get control and how is he going to explain it. And I think there does need to be a better explanation than what's come forth so far. It's been pretty weak.
Q: As we approach the midterm elections though, isn't it a liability though that you could have the head of the party seemingly embroiled in these controversies every couple of weeks?
A: Oh sure, it's not a good thing at all. That's why I say he's got to give a better explanation than the one he's given. The one saving grace in all of this is that the Democrats haven't had exactly a stellar record when it comes to being scandal free, whether it's John Edwards, any number of, both sides have got their share of dirty laundry.
You'll have to tell me whether that constitutes an "offer of support" for the embattled RNC Chairman, or if anything else Huckabee said was "grossly distorted." Here is the audio.
What's clear is this: In an attempt to save face after making some genuinely cringe-worthy remarks, Huckabee has resorted to attacking the media. He has said nothing about the substance of his remarks.
Huckabee should apologize to college journalists everywhere for attempting to maneuver himself out of a controversy by calling into question our integrity.