Posted by Jack @ 6:42 pm on December 27th 2007

Tempering My Huckenfreude

While I admit to continued Huckenfreude at the Republican establishments gnashing of the teeth and rending of the cloth over their possible Huckacide, and I acknowledge the need to respect the conviction and energy that drive’s his campaign, we must not shy from pointing out the frightening aspects of a Huckabee presidency. It is particularly worth exploring given that the nature of the criticism directed against Ron Paul is, in many ways, similar to that which is, or ought to be, directed against Huckabee.

Consider George Will’s column from last week in which, during the course of comparing Hillary and Huckabee to Nixon, he contrasts Huckabee’s demonstrated ideology with actual conservatism, and finds it wanting:

Huckabee’s campaign actually is what Rudy Giuliani’s candidacy is misdescribed as being — a comprehensive apostasy against core Republican beliefs. Giuliani departs from recent Republican stances regarding two issues — abortion and the recognition by law of same-sex couples. Huckabee’s radical candidacy broadly repudiates core Republican policies such as free trade, low taxes, the essential legitimacy of America’s corporate entities and the market system allocating wealth and opportunity.

While I think George Will downplays Giuliani’s conservative apostosy, ignoring his 2nd amendment problems for instance, the quote is a rather nice contrast of the two candidates. Republican, conservative, and libertarian columnists have spent the better part of December desperately driving this point home: Huckabee is not a conservative. While Huckabee’s 10 years as a big spending, big government Governor of Arkansas give ample evidence as to his fiscal views, criticism for Huckabee mirrors that for Ron Paul: not only is he supported by extremists, he actively courts them. As Brink Lindsey at Cato@Liberty reports, Huckabee attended a fund raiser at the home of noted Christian Reconstructionist Dr. Steven Hotz. For those unfamiliar, Christian Reconstruction is the movement pushing for an American Christian theocracy.

Religious Right radicals who believe that America, and the rest of the world besides, should be governed in accordance with strict Biblical law. And yes, that includes stoning adulterers. Here’s a snippet from “A Manifesto for the Christian Church,” a 1986 document from an outfit called the Coalition on Revival that was signed by, among others, Steven Hotze:

We affirm that the Bible is not only God’s statements to us regarding religion, salvation, eternity, and righteousness, but also the final measurement and depository of certain fundamental facts of reality and basic principles that God wants all mankind to know in the sphere of law, government, economics, business, education, arts and communication, medicine, psychology, and science. All theories and practices of these spheres of life are only true, right, and realistic to the degree that they agree with the Bible.

As Radley Balko puts it:

Okay, so Mike Huckabee is now officially scary. Where are the calls on the right for him to return the money he has accepted from people who want to return to the age of stoning women? And let’s draw an important line of distinction, here. Ron Paul unknowingly took a small check from a guy who turned out to be a white supremacist. Huckabee knowingly and willingly spoke at a fundraising event hosted by a bunch of Neanderthals.

Displaying extroadinary ignorance of history, the Constitution, and apparently the Old Testament, he responded to reporters’ questions about hanging the Ten Commandments on his office wall with the “basis of our laws” nonsense:

As for the Ten Commandments in the Oval Office, “the Ten Commandments are in the Supreme Court,” Huckabee said, adding that he “wouldn’t hesitate” to hang them in the White House. “The Ten Commandments form the basis of most of our laws and therefore, you know if you look through them does anybody find anything there that would be all that objectionable? I don’t think most people would if they actually read them,” he said.

I find this ludicrous, and wonder if Huckabee has actually read the Ten Commandments he is so fond of using as the basis of law. Aside from the prohibition against murder, theft and lying/perjury (provisions which are present in nearly every system of law in the world regardless of Judeo-Christian heritage), the majority of the commandments are unconstitutional, absurd, or contradictory to our very system of government and economics. Can you imagine a law which actually forbids “other gods before me,” graven images, or naming the lord in vain? How about a law that requires the keeping of the Sabbath or the honoring of parents? Any body find a problem in say, the Bill of Rights to those provisions? Can you imagine a law that prohibits “coveting?” Seems to me that “coveting” is the basis for our entire economy.

Returning to Brink Lindsey’s post, he refers us to Robert Novak’s column regarding the fund raiser, which highlights the growing number of stories pervading the internet and MSM reporting on Huck’s spiteful irritability and vengeful nature. Ironically, Novak’s article paints Huckabee as the reasonable voice within the Baptist Convention.

Scarborough and Huckabee clashed during the Baptist wars. Fighting to drive the liberals from the temple, Scarborough was badly defeated for president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas while Huckabee embraced the liberal church establishment to become president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.

But lest we be lulled into seeing Huck as the reasonable Christian politician, let’s keep in mind his rejection of science: He is a creationist who believes the earth is less than 10,000 years old. Almost unfathomable, but roughly a third of our population is this willfully ignorant. Makes Ron Paul’s mealy mouthed rejection of evolution a little less striking, but still a source of irritation and concern.

25 Comments »

  1. Hadn’t seen that evolution clip before. Ouch.

    And you’re right that, if he had Godlike power over the machinery of the state, Huckabee would push things much, much further in a Christianist direction than any of us would be comfortable with. This, however, is similar to the apocalyptic theorizing about how Paul would singlehandedly collapse America’s hegemony–neither scenario is possible given the checks upon the power of the office.

    Where we SHOULD be concerned about a potential President is the areas in which his interests and ideology reinforce the interests of those who are supposed to check him. In that regard, I’m much, much more actually afraid of Huckabee’s big government conservatism than I am of his Bible thumping.

    There is, though, a lot to be concerned about. I tend to think he’s a generally good man, followed by good people, who should not be President. That makes him a better choice than the bad people who shouldn’t be President, but he’s no white knight, certainly.

    Congratulations on your fifth or sixth excellent post in a row, by the way.

    Comment by Rojas — 12/27/2007 @ 9:04 pm

  2. He’ll calm down. He better had, before he makes us all look bad.

    Comment by Adam — 12/27/2007 @ 11:28 pm

  3. Frankly, I didn’t know that much Huckabee until I started researching after his remarkable and sudden rise in the polls. I had him orginally pegged as some crunchy con but when I actually started researching him the fingerprints of Christian Dominionism were all over him. Hence my post about 3 weeks ago pegging him as such. Whether he actually believes in that nonsense or is just cynically using it for political advantage is a matter of interpretation.

    With respect to Paul and that evolution clip, it does contradict earlier statements by the campaign that Paul did in fact adhere to evolution. However, it’s not quite clear from that clip just what exactly he was rejecting. In any event, the most pertinent part of that clip was that if evolution/creationism was a major political issue, he wouldn’t even bother running for public office.

    And i should note that current scientific explanation of our universe is M-Theory, Inflation, and the Anthropic Principle. The Anthropic Principle, in fact, does cast doubt on a purely Darwinian interpretation of cosmological and biological evolution(this is not Intelligent Design advocacy, either). And not to mention that the david deutsche’s recent publication almost surely proves that the Many Worlds or parallel universe interpretation of Quantum Mechanics is almost certainly the correct interpretation.

    Therefore, it’s really difficult to get worked up by that Paul video when it’s political suicide for any political candidate to publicly deny belief in a personal god(atheism or agnosticism). Every single candidates public views on these matters is pure gibberish in terms of science to begin with.

    I eagerly await the emergence of the “Quantum Suicide” political party…

    Comment by Kaligula — 12/28/2007 @ 2:40 am

  4. Your representation of physics may not match with the general opinion in the community, Kaligula. I don’t know what’s in Deutsch’s latest publication, but I do know that he has been for some time a disciple of Many Worlds Interpretation (MWI) and his writings prior to now haven’t convinced that many people in the field. He has proposed tests for MWI (versus other interpretations) before but they also weren’t taken seriously by the majority; what publication are you talking about? As for the cosmology: inflation is relatively well-accepted, Anthropic Principle is contentious and M-Theory isn’t universally accepted (like everything that arises out of string theory, there is variation in the enthusiasm with which it is received).

    Comment by Adam — 12/28/2007 @ 9:01 am

  5. Adam:

    probably should have written “current best scientific explanation…”

    I know it’s not universally accepted, but it’s the best explanation currently available.

    Deutsch’s publication is very recent, back in Sept:

    Parallel universes exist – study

    Comment by Kaligula — 12/28/2007 @ 11:57 am

  6. I am pretty dubious; at best, they appear to have shown that there can exist a mathematical framework that works (but that’s arguably already shown for the decoherence/consistent histories approach produced by people like Griffith, Omnes, Gell-Mann and Hartle). There’s not even a consensus amongst people in the wider field that interpretations even matter at all. The article also contains a pretty contentious statement itself about things not really existing until they are measured (Quantum Mechanics doesn’t say that, really, it’s more about measurement and what outcomes you can get, even given that superposition states are allowed).

    There’s an interesting discussion of the appeal of MWI (and why it’s mistaken) from earlier in the year on Matt Leifer’s blog here. As I said in my comments on that piece, I’m more of a ‘shut up and calculate’ guy than someone that has a particular favourite interpretation, but I’d go for Decoherence if I had to pick an interpretation.

    Comment by Adam — 12/28/2007 @ 1:05 pm

  7. “The only thing that I know that for sure we’re going to do that we have always done is we’ll go to our church Christmas Eve service,” Huckabee said. “It’s a huge community-wide celebration, and we do that every year. And then we have an unusual tradition that after the Christmas Eve service we go out and eat Chinese food. Don’t ask me why.”

    Asked if the tradition is intended to help him better relate to the Jewish community — who often celebrate Christmas with egg rolls and General Tso — Huckabee said, “No, it’s Chinese food.”

    He was unaware of the Jewish Christmas tradition

    Good times.

    Comment by Mark — 12/28/2007 @ 3:18 pm

  8. I myself only became aware of that tradition two years ago. I doubt that it’s the sort of situation one encounters regularly in Little Rock.

    Comment by Rojas — 12/28/2007 @ 8:53 pm

  9. Good heavens, what have you people done with this comment thread? Multi World Interpretation indeed. In any case:

    Rojas: Thanks! I often feel like I am barely hanging on, barely contributing.

    Kaligula: with due respect to your M-Theory, Inflation, and the Anthropic Principle, I hope you are not seriously suggesting that Paul’s understanding of the issue is so nuanced as to justify anti-evolution positions based upon his understanding of MWI and the Anthropic Principle. Cause it sounds to me like he just plain doesn’t understand the overwhelming support for evolution, the nature of a theory, and the use of “proof” in science vs math, but he very well understands neo-creationist talking points that appeal to redstater Christians.

    Comment by Jack — 12/28/2007 @ 9:36 pm

  10. Man, just saw that Paul youtube clip. Jesus wept, it looks like he’s even bought the “it’s just a theory” argument a bit. Man, you don’t have to agree with evolution to know enough about how science works to know that “it’s a theory” is all you’re ever going to get out of science. That’s the worst thing I’ve heard him say. Jesus.

    Comment by Adam — 12/28/2007 @ 10:08 pm

  11. Jack:

    I just spit beer on my keyboard reading your comment.

    Yes, that’s the power of The Ron, able to discern fundamental scientific esoterics while triangulating/pandering on cosmic truths while on the campaign trail in SC.

    Comment by Kaligula — 12/29/2007 @ 2:23 pm

  12. Paul’s bullshit line on evolution is cause to drop him like a rock in my book (though I never supported him). Anyhow, how embarassing for you who support him.

    Comment by tessellated — 12/29/2007 @ 8:39 pm

  13. Well, know tesselated, its a reason to critisize him. I have read your extensive comments in the other thread, and you are way overreacting. I have few litmus tests, and one of them is not “lightly panders to christians on evolution.” its important, its just not an automatic dealbreaker. Who are you supporting tessellated? Just so I can mention their next faux pas. heh.

    Comment by Jack — 12/29/2007 @ 11:55 pm

  14. So do you think that Paul ‘accepts’ evolution, though? If he’s just lying about it to aquire votes or spoke carelessly or we are lacking the full context, fair enough, but what if he really doesn’t accept it (not the same as not believing in it, which I mention in the other thread)? How much irrational behaviour from a candidate can you stomach?

    Comment by Adam — 12/30/2007 @ 12:00 am

  15. Jack, I did write that comment in the heat of the moment.

    I believe I’ve also written (in one of your posts) that I support Obama. If Obama came out with a statement like that, and I thought he meant it I would indeed drop him. No question. If he was, in my view, pandering then it would cause me to reevaluate him versus the rest of the field.

    Comment by tessellated — 12/30/2007 @ 12:12 am

  16. Fair enough tessellated.

    Adam, I think their are a whole lot of degrees, shades of grey, between “he is lying” and “he is rejecting evolution.” I stick with pandering. My guess, he believes in theistic evolution, which is the general position of most scientists who are also Christians. This is not to be confused with ID, but I think he is heavy on the theistic part: it happened, but God made/caused it to happen. I believe if he really rejected evolution in any significant sense he would have indicated as much during the debate handraising opportunity.

    However, he recognizes that a whole lot of people, roughly one third of our population, do not accept evolution, and they are much more likely to be Republicans than Democrats. He recognizes that technically it is a theory, and he wants all those people to understand that he can respect their views, so he used the well-worn wording “its just a theory” and sort of waived away the issue as not particularly relevant to his campaign. I wish he hadn’t but their it is.

    Comment by Jack — 12/30/2007 @ 10:34 am

  17. Well, either he “accepts” evolution (he’s telling the truth) or he doesn’t (he’s lying or misspoke or the wider context isn’t clear). Pandering speaks to motive, but hardly excludes the application of the descriptor ‘lying’. Lying is one of the ways that people pander (omission or a misleading focus are others, but Paul’s is a definite statement of fact).

    Incidentally, I don’t know what you mean by ‘theistic evolution’ but scientists that are christian tend to separate their beliefs from their working hypotheses, which is what I am describing by ‘rationality’. They don’t look for God in the lab, and they ‘accept’ evolution. Those people wouldn’t dream of teaching ID in a science lesson even if they believed in it because it’s not science; as a consequence, they wouldn’t skirt close to using the ‘just a theory’ rhetoric of those that would pretend that ID is a scientific alternative to evolution.

    Hopefully in response to the brouhaha, Paul will explain what he does think. If he repeats something that sounds like ‘just a theory’ then we’ll know, pretty much, what he is.

    Comment by Adam — 12/30/2007 @ 10:53 am

  18. Theistic evolution, at least as I have encountered it in the past, means that the creator deployed evolution as the means by which new species arise. There are probably a couple of flavors: a weak version where once set in motion the system needs no ongoing influence, and a strong version where the occassional tune-up is required.

    Comment by tessellated — 12/30/2007 @ 11:11 am

  19. Other than those claiming that those positions are distinguishable, through some evidentiary process, from ‘evolution alone’ then that’s entirely compatible with what I’m sketching out above (in fact, it’s pretty much what I was thinking of as what the scientists in question would believe).

    Comment by Adam — 12/30/2007 @ 11:17 am

  20. I figured that was likely the case Adam. I was raised Catholic, and when I would to attempt to reconcile religious teachings with what I knew from science that was exactly the path I was forced to follow. For this same reason, I still will find myself temporarily stunned by proponents on either side of the evolution debate assuming that religion and science on this point MUST be incompatible. I’m more or less with Dawkins right up until he crosses that line, after that, well…I remain agnostic on that point.

    Comment by tessellated — 12/30/2007 @ 11:37 am

  21. Dawkins is the Energiser Bunny of evangelical atheism. I have no understanding, really, of what motivates him in that regard. Kicking back I can understand, but attempting to lay waste to an entire system of belief I don’t understand.

    Comment by Adam — 12/30/2007 @ 12:43 pm

  22. Evangelical atheists are as annoying to me as any other kind of evangelist, and a good deal more annoying than some. Damon Linker discusses Dawkins, Hitchens and their cohorts here.

    Comment by Rojas — 12/30/2007 @ 2:24 pm

  23. Yes, because all the “evangelical athiests” influence the formation of law and policy so much, and directly cause the discrimination against so many. I mean, I can scarcely go a day without hearing about some activity that has been made illegal or some class of people whose rights have been limited by those darn evangelical atheists. They really should stop trying to tell people that their mythologies are irrational, its just so offensive.

    Comment by Jack — 12/31/2007 @ 7:26 pm

  24. There are plenty of venues in which life is lived other than public policy, Jack.

    I reserve the right to object to obnoxious behavior even when it doesn’t manifest itself in law.

    Comment by Rojas — 1/1/2008 @ 12:11 am

  25. No doubt, but you placed them on equal footing “as annoying.” I don’t doubt you feel that way, I am expressing a different opinion; no where near as annoying.

    Comment by Jack — 1/1/2008 @ 1:53 pm

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