Mike Huckabee and Me

Ronald Reagan used to quip that the 11th Commandment is: Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican.  While there are times for Republicans to call one another out for un-Republican behavior, such arguments are best kept inside the family and should not be aired openly to unsympathetic media.

It is therefore unfortunate that, at a time when the GOP needs to close ranks and seek unity, Governor Mike Huckabee has aimed his fire at his fellow Republicans.  In the just-released Do the Right Thing, which he has been promoting on news shows and in major newspapers, Governor Huckabee takes shots at several prominent Republicans, including his one-time rivals for the GOP presidential nomination Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson.  

He also takes a couple shots at me, claiming I told him that the issues I have worked on most of my professional life — the sanctity of human life, the preservation of marriage and family and religious freedom — were no longer a focus of mine and that my focus has shifted to foreign policy matters.  Gov. Huckabee writes of being puzzled about why I didn’t endorse his presidential candidacy, stating, “Gary Bauer reportedly wasn’t impressed at all and set forth from that day onward to find an ever-changing reason to deny me his support.”

Huckabee is wrong on a couple of counts.  First, my passion and work on behalf of values issues have in no way diminished.  Second, I have believed since 9-11 that the West’s battle against Islamofascism is a crucial component in the fight for our civilization.  Thus it is a values issue.  That Huckabee fails to understand all this gets to the heart of why I did not support him.

Huckabee said that during a private meeting we had, “it was like playing whack-a-mole at the arcade — whatever issue I addressed, another one surfaced as the ‘problem’ that made my candidacy unacceptable.”

In fact, talking with Huckabee was like playing whack-a-mole, because he had a number of issues that posed problems.  It wasn’t just that he didn’t get it on foreign policy.  His record on taxes and spending, illegal immigration, his apparent backing of Al Gore’s carbon cap and trade scheme, support for voting rights for Washington, D.C., and cozying up to unions like the NEA all worried me.  Huckabee can call it whack-a-mole.  But for me there were just too many items where he wasn’t sufficiently conservative coupled with a lack of attention and experience on foreign affairs.  

It is ironic that as Huckabee criticizes me for not focusing enough on values issues, others have been just as critical of me and other pro-family leaders for focusing too much on those issues.  Let me be clear: The protection of human life, religious freedom and marriage and family continue to be paramount to my work and mission.  The majority of my work, from meetings with members of Congress and speeches at pregnancy resource centers to daily values reports and weekly columns for Human Events and on other pages, focuses on life, faith and family.  That said, it is to be expected that, in the course of human events, new pressing issues will arise.  And I have addressed many of them, from stem cell research to religious freedom in the Middle East.  

Huckabee actually agrees with me on this point.  Immediately after attacking me for talking less about life and marriage, he writes about Christians like himself who have, “…an expanding concern for issues like human poverty, AIDS, disease, and hunger.”  So the problem is not about whether these newer issues are important.   Rather, it concerns which issues have become so important that they should join the list of most important issues.  To me it’s clear that in our post-9-11 world, national security is a values issue.  

Conservatives recognize that there is a cultural battle taking place over the values that shape our nation and its institutions. We see the fallout of that crucial engagement in broken families, the suppression of religious freedom and the devastating loss of life through the scourge of abortion.

But another battle has only recently emerged, and, like the culture war, it is an existential battle whose outcome will determine America’s future. America is at war with Islamofascism, an enemy that worships death.

This enemy has declared war on Western Civilization, and a central fact of our time is that at this very moment, there are evil men working feverishly to bring us sorrows greater than the sorrows we have already experienced.

This is something Mike Hucakabee now seems to agree with.  In Chapter 1 of his book, he writes:

“Then there’s the war on terror.  A Democrat president won’t fight the war on terror with the intensity and single-mindedness that it demands.  As unbelieveable as it sounds, Democrats still don’t understand how viscerally, obsessively, and fanatically the Islamo-fascists hate us, and how determined they are to kill us and destroy our Judeo-Christian culture and civilization.  We can put it very simply:  the Islamo-fascists want to destroy our way of life and kill us.”

More and more social and religious conservatives believe America’s virtue deficit has made us more vulnerable to our enemies, and that it is only through a renewed commitment to faith, family and freedom that our democratic republican can survive.  

Mike Huckabee has a bright future in public life (which is why I wanted him to run for Senate, where he would have added a needed voice of reason on values issues).  After he is finished attacking all those who he thinks denied him the GOP nomination, I look forward to working with him to reform the GOP and revitalize the conservative movement.