Hugh Hewitt finally got his interviewing claws into Mike Huckabee yesterday. Here is the transcript. I was suffering from a serious case of employment during the interview and did not get to hear it. Continue to be so. So this post is going to begin briefly. As both of us can find a minute today, maybe even over the next few days, we will try and add our additional thoughts and commentary. I will begin with two exchanges:
HH: Now Governor, about a year ago, actually next month, you were quoted in the New York Times Sunday Magazine as saying, “Don’t Mormons Believe that Jesus and the Devil are brothers?” Now I know you’ve explained that before, but it’s not in the book, which is a memoir of the campaign. Why would you leave out that major issue?
MH: Well, because it was a completely misrepresented issue. It was a conversation with a reporter. It was an 11,000 word story, or 10,000 word story, and there were 11 words in it that really was a question that came in the context of the conversation because he was explaining to me specific doctrines of the Mormon Church. He was quite familiar with it. I wasn’t. And I asked him if that were in fact the doctrine of the Church. And the next thing is it ended up in the article as a part of it. The Associated Press lifted that out as if that was main focus of the conversation. I personally went to Mitt Romney in Des Moines, on a stage, looked at him in the face, told him I was sorry, that I would never had intended to have done something that would have been disparaging, and that it absolutely was not my intention to disparage any doctrine of his faith. And that’s just the long and the short of it.
HH: Where did you get that idea?
MH: Well, frankly, I’ve been told by people who had been Mormons that they did believe that Jesus and the Devil came out of the same stock. One went wrong, one went right. That’s why I asked it.
Now anybody that has watched a courtroom TV show of any sort should knows this trick. Lawyer says “X” – Other Lawyer objects – Judge sustains the objection – First lawyer “withdraws the question.” The key concept in such an exchange is “the bell has rung.” The jury heard “X” and despite being told to disregard it, it just lies there, in the mind of the jurors and influences the thinking of those inclined to agree with the lawyer who said it. Mike Huckabee may have apologized to Mitt Romney, but the bell had rung. He had sent a signal to the anti-Mormon crowd in Iowa. They heard it and they responded. Too little, too late, Governor, the bell had rung. Personal apologies were insufficient. What was called for was returned donations, and asking, publicly, certain groups not to work on your behalf.
HH: Governor, the e-mails are coming in. Here’s one from a Mormon listener [Lowell!]. “Why didn’t the Governor ever denounce the scurrilous anti-Mormon attacks against Mitt Romney by Huckabee supporters? They were even left on the Huckabee website, e.g. Romney referred to as ‘Mormon garbage.’ Governor Huckabee always denied that he ever said anything playing on Governor Romney’s religion, but he never once denounced such attacks, and he benefited from them.” Governor?
MH: That is not true, and I consistently denounced attacks against the Mormon Church. And as I have said, if you watch my show, if you’ve read my publications and what I’ve written, I have often defended people of the Mormon faith, because I have great respect for them. They’re people who have great convictions, they hold to them, they are an example of charity, taking care of the members of their own Church. I think it’s, you know, something that is irrelevant to a person’s being elected. And I have said repeatedly that in no way would it affect my vote for or against somebody depending on what Church they belonged to or didn’t belong to.
“Watch your show?!” WOW – he’s good, a plug and a denial in one useless sentence. Way too little, way too late – the primary is over, Governor, what is said on your show now is irrelevant, it is what happened in the campaign that matters. See, Mr. Huckabee, this is not about you, it is about the people that followed you. You did make statements about attacks on another’s faith being inappropriate, but they were generic and they were made only around Super Tuesday and later when the heat on you for the Iowa crack became unbearable.
What’s more, your web site was never edited. Those comments were never deleted. A comment policy forbidding then was never published. You never sought out the numerous backers you had that were indeed nasty, ugly, bigoted anti-Mormon types and directly and by name repudiated them. Then there are the uncountable bulletin boards and other web sites run by those officially unaffiliated with the campaign – Where were your campaign workers posting on those sites, denying such as having anything to do with the campaign?
Mike Huckabee can claim his personal innocence all he wants, but the fact remains he provided political cover for anti-Mormon bigotry to operate. He let anti-Mormonism fester like a boil. His campaign was indeed bigoted and anti-Mormon. He had no control over his campaign, which gives one no confidence in his ability to govern the nation. But then he never wanted to – “Watch his show” indeed – I think that just about says it all.
More to come as time and employment allows.
Lowell finally shows up: What a stroke of luck. I was driving home a little early and, as I always do on those occasions, I turned on Hugh’s show. Lo and behold, he had Mike Huckabee on for the entire final hour. For months now I had wanted to see someone ask Huck why he never denounced the anti-Mormon bile that came out of his supporters. Since Huck wasn’t taking calls, I pulled off the road and sent my e-mail question.
Huck gave almost exactly the response I expected: Religion “is irrelevant to a person’s being elected. And I have said repeatedly that in no way would it affect my vote for or against somebody depending on what Church they belonged to or didn’t belong to.”
How utterly gutless and lame. That’s all he ever said during the campaign as well. Well, Mike, let’s play my favorite game: Replace “Mormon” with another candidate and faith.
When your website refers to Joe Lieberman as “Jewish garbage,” would you simply say in response,”Religion is irrelevant to a person’s being elected?”
When your website refers to Rudy Giuliani as “papist garbage,” would you simply say in response,”Religion is irrelevant to a person’s being elected?”
Yes, it is hard to imagine letting those statements go with such a limp and general response, isn’t it? But you knew that a large part of your base would be offended if you said anything more to denounce their naked, unapologetic and unabashed bigotry.
I beleive Mike Huckabee is a serious danger now facing the Republican Party. He is silver-tongued and he has a loyal base. He has a mean and nasty streak and obviously loves to nurse a grudge. (Witness the many pages of his book devoted to Mitt Romney, who had the temerity to be handsome, rich, have a beautiful family, and beat up on Huck politically everywhere they competed other than Iowa.) Worst of all, his aiding and abetting of the dark bigotry of his supporters proves that he lacks the courage to do the right thing. Not a good combination in a would-be national leader.
All that, combined with the man’s ego and charming narcissism, make for a very negative influence on the party. Just imagine what Huck would do to Sarah Palin, once she started making him look bad. (And she will, if Huck takes her on.)