Huckabee 2016 GOP Presidential Pick: Champ or Chump?

In this Agora, The National Herald Executive Editor, Constantinos Scaros, a stalwart GOP supporter, takes on anarchist-poet-historian Dan Georgakas on the question of whether Mike Huckabee, a minister, former Arkansas Governor and current TV talk show host has the stuff to run for President again after failing to get the nomination in 2012 – even with Chuck Norris on his side.

SCAROS:

Dan, a lot of my conservative/Republican friends confess that they no longer recognize me, because I no longer unconditionally embrace the party or the ideology – at least by those who profess to practice it nowadays.

Around 2006 I began to criticize Republican after Republican, concluding that far too many of them haven’t got a clue about how to win an election, and are not fit to shine Ronald Reagan’s shoes, let alone utter his name or pretend that they understand the first thing about him.

When they fielded John McCain in 2008, I thought: “are they trying to lose the election on purpose?” In fact, only in 2012 did I begin looking at McCain as a very strong candidate, only because I was comparing him to that year’s Republican nominee, Mitt Romney.

Judging from their recent track record, the Republicans seem poised to make it three duds in a row by 2016, the sad part being that they’ll actually think they’ve got a candidate who is electable beyond the ranks of the conservative talk radio audience.

There was one candidate in particular, though, who I wished had won the Republican nomination in 2012 – Newt Gingrich. And there were two who I think deserved it in 2008: Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee. Turning to 2016, it is highly unlikely – unfortunately, I think – that either Gingrich or Giuliani would contend for the White House. Huckabee, though, is another story, and he is the subject of my commentary today.

As much of a “rock star” candidate as Barack Obama was in 2008, the person who I thought had the best chance of beating him then was Huckabee. And he might very well have the best chance against the heavily-favored (against anyone) Hillary Clinton in two years. If she doesn’t run, then Huckabee would have an easy time thrashing Andrew Cuomo, Mark Warner, or any other non-Hillary candidate.

Huckabee was in the news recently, some of his remarks taken completely out of context by the Democrats, the media, and, worse yet, clueless Republicans who revel in schizophrenia, alternating between being abrasive and gunshy. That the loony lefties have made an issue out of this obvious non-issue reminds me that, as embarrassing as I think many in the GOP have become since 2006, I’m not about to join forces with liberals or Democrats anytime soon.

Here’s what Huckabee said: “If the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control, because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government, then so be it.”

Democrat opportunists as well as the chip-on-their-shoulder crowd that becomes more easily offended than Gyp Rosetti of Boardwalk Empire, pounced on Huckabee’s remarks, making the grossly-misrepresentative proclamation that: “Huckabee says women cannot control their libido.”

That would be like Bill Clinton saying: “If the Tea Party extremists keep on saying that Obama is an America-hating socialist, they’re never going to get elected,” and some rightwing talk radio host claiming that “Bill Clinton just called President Obama an America-hating socialist!” See what I mean?

At least the Republican Party’s own National Chairman, Reince Priebus, understood that Huckabee was not saying that about women – but that Democrats think that about women.

Nonetheless, Priebus rebuked Huckabee for the remarks because, “you have to accept the political world we live in, in the sense that you cannot offer up words like ‘libido’ – wherever that came from – you don’t offer up these sorts of lobs and set up passes and serves that allow the Democrats to spike the ball.” The only reason that comment would be a lob and not a Nolan Ryan fastball is because today’s Bad News Bears Republicans don’t know how to pitch.

There’s no changing the uber-touchy politically correct crowd – they are what they are. But if Republicans walk on eggshells around them, they will continue to head nowhere fast.

What Priebus and other Republican leaders probably don’t understand is that the reasons millions of women would relish a Huckabee presidential run while millions more would reject it has absolutely nothing to do with whether he uses the words “women” and “libido” in the same sentence.

A former Baptist minister, Huckabee has no problem appealing to the GOP’s potent Evangelical Christian base. On the other hand, it is his folksy, easygoing demeanor that caused the likes of Bill Maher and Michelle Obama to be guests on his show on Fox, whereas they have steered very clear of most of the programs on that channel.

He may not emerge as “the next Ronald Reagan” on every level, but he’s got the best chance, I think, to do so in terms of being a big-tent candidate who can also appeal to a large number of Democrats and Independents.

If principled leftists oppose his candidacy on ideology, that’s fair enough. But to suggest that Huckabee made anti-women remarks when, in fact, he made anti-Democrat remarks is as big a lie as the phony Internet articles along the lines of: “Obama’s executive order removes ‘In God We Trust’ from our currency!”

As for Huckabee, I hope he just continues being who he is, and doesn’t take advice from either major party’s “experts,” most of whom rank far below even meteorologists, investors, and psychics in their ability to prognosticate.

GEORGAKAS:

That you think Mike Huckabee is the best presidential prospect for the Republicans baffles me. I think he would do extremely poorly against Hillary Clinton. His candidacy would assure continued Democratic control of the Senate and might adversely affect the Republican House majority.

Hillary will easily rally all elements of the Democratic Party. Huckabee, however, would get the cold shoulder from Republicans in major industrial states. More significantly, the election will be decided by independents. Rather than debate Huckabee’s latest explanation of his statement regarding women controlling their libidos, I will examine how his established views are likely to affect swing voters.

Hillary begins with a special appeal for women voters. The majority of this largest American voting bloc will want to be part of electing America’s first female president. Huckabee’s frequent “corrections” of “misinterpretations” of his comments about women will only serve to push even more women into Hillary’s camp. And his aggressive stand against women’s freedom of choice is not likely to attract many undecided women.

Huckabee’s view that homosexuality is “aberrant, unnatural, and a sin” will rally gay voters and their allies even more enthusiastically to Hillary’s bid. Nor will Huckabee’s condemnation of same-sex marriage and civil unions attract any votes he doesn’t start with.

Civil libertarians, right and left, are not fans of his idea of posting the Ten Commandments in all public schools or his view that the U.S. Constitution should be “Christianized.” He, of course, derides the theory of evolution and thinks creationism should be part of the science curriculum.

Huckabee is a diehard opponent of Obamacare but offers no alternative. He believes that HMOs should be allowed to deny cover to individuals with a pre-existing health conditions. He also would end funding for stem-cell research, one of the most promising new directions in modern medicine. He advocates that people with HIV-AIDS should be isolated from the general public.

In terms of American justice, Huckabee supports building more prisons, but has no program for dealing with why people turn to crime in the first place. He thinks the Guantanamo Bay prison need not be closed, and he supports the kind of gun laws that have led to many controversial killings in states such as Florida.

A crucial part of the electorate that already has cost Republicans a number of elections is the Hispanic vote. Hillary is quite popular with these voters; Huckabee is not. He is a lot more interested in building fences on the Mexican border and strengthening the border patrols than in immigration reform of the kind Republicans such as Jeb Bush and Mark Rubio advocate.

African-Americans are another large voting bloc. Huckabee ’s interactions with African Americans are insignificant while Hillary enjoys strong support. Her loyally serving on the Obama team after losing to him is greatly respected by African Americans. She further benefits from the high regard African Americans have of her husband. In that respect, many Americans will remember that Bill Clinton left office with a healthy economy producing budget surpluses rather than the usual deficits.

In the realm of foreign policy, friend and foe agree that Hillary is respected by world leaders. Huckabee, in contrast, is clueless. He has admitted not knowing much about Iran’s nuclear facilities and he has bizarre ideas such as the creation of a Palestinian state in Egypt or Saudi Arabia rather than adjacent to Israel. That would surely be a “winner” in the Arab world.

Given these realities, I think Hillary would welcome Huckabee as the Republican standard bearer.