The Media Hearts Huckabee
The press seems to be falling head-over-heals for former Arkansas governor and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.
It's not just the Fox Newses, CNNs and New York Timeses of the world, either--even that bastion of yuppie liberalism, the New Yorker, has spoken glowingly about the former Southern baptist minister whose charm and superior bone structure has won the hearts of the media elite. Unfortunately, there's a lot not to love about Huckabee once you get past his affable public persona.
In mid-November, Salon.com published an article detailing Huckabee's unethical behavior during his tenure as Arkansas' highest office holder. His unscrupulous actions resulted in having six sanctions levied against him by the Arkansas Ethics Commission and a scandal involving computer hard-drives that were crushed under Huckabee's orders when he left office. The article also recounts a strange tale of Huckabee and his wife, post-governorship, wherein the couple set up a wedding gift registry a full three decades after the couple was married. Perhaps Huckabee is a friendly conman, but he appears to be a conman nonetheless.
Huckabee's shifty behavior and penchant for pillaging aren't the only things the national media has done a poor job of informing the public about. While the press rightly praises Huckabee for his fast and efficient aid to Hurricane Katrina refugees, they should also inform their audiences of Huckabee's staunch pro-life stance that led him to deny state funding to a mentally disabled teenager who sought an abortion after being raped by her stepfather. The Salon.com article also mentions Huckabee's homophobic knee-slappers about "Adam and Steve"--tasteless jokes backed up by his support of Arkansas' gay marriage ban and his refusal to support any equal rights under the law for same-sex couples.
Finally, Huckabee is a proponent of what he calls a "fair tax," which would eliminate income tax and replace it with a national sales tax, something even a Bush administration task force said would gut government resources. Interestingly, Fox News is one of the few outlets that has grilled Huckabee on his risky tax proposal.
It seems an unfortunate inevitability that the mainstream press will always be fascinated by the superficial and trivial aspects of presidential hopefuls. Sen. Clinton’s pantsuits and Sen. Barack Obama's gift for oration will always be topics of media conversation. At the very least, it seems reasonable to suggest that these not be the only things people hear about. Huckabee is the leading Republican vote-getter in Iowa polls, and I doubt it's because people like where he stands on all the issues. More likely, they've seen the handsome devil on TV and they've read some nice things about his broad sense of humor. For goodness sakes, in 2000 we elected the not-so-stiff governor of a Southern state with a bevy of bad jokes, and look where that got us.