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  • « Hispanics are the new gays: Obama | Main | GNW 5: The gay on/off switch »

    December 13, 2007

    Huckabee doesn't heart gays

    Posted by: Chris

    Huckabeearkansas Mike Huckabee's surge to the top of GOP polls in Iowa and nationwide has brought the expected scrutiny of his record and, ironically for a candidate courting social conservatives, it is on those same issues that he is withering a bit in the spotlight.

    First came Huckabee's outrageous statement from his 1992 campaign for U.S. Senate in support of quarantining people with AIDS.

    "If the federal government is truly serious about doing something with the AIDS virus, we need to take steps that would isolate the carriers of this plague," Huckabee wrote.

    "It is difficult to understand the public policy towards AIDS. It is the first time in the history of civilization in which the carriers of a genuine plague have not been isolated from the general population, and in which this deadly disease for which there is no cure is being treated as a civil rights issue instead of the true health crisis it represents."

    Advocating quarantine would have been outlandish enough in 1982, when HIV first emerged, but it was flat-earth territory to do so a full decade later -- six years after Surgeon General C. Everett Koop confirmed the already accepted view that casual contact could not spread the virus.

    Huckabee's citation to the Kimberly Bergalis drama is a red herring; even if health care workers with HIV posed a risk, and it turns out they did not if they followed simple protocol, his support for "isolating plague carriers" was not limited to those in medicine.

    Given the opportunity last week to distance himself from those views, Huckabee made clear that he's more concerned with being seen as a Mitt Romney flip-flopper than with alienating moderates. At a news conference, he said:

    “The one thing I feel like is important to note is that you stick by what you said,” said Huckabee. “I’m not going to go around changing my opinion on everything.” …

    Contesting those who say it was “common knowledge” in 1992 that AIDS could not be spread by casual contact, Huckabee said the nation was in “real panic” after the case of a patient contracted the disease from a dentist.

    What's most striking is that Huckabee acknowledges the "panic" surrounding the AIDS virus but rather than clarifying how he didn't fall victim to it, he essentially advocates it as valid justification for public policy, even when the science was clearly to the contrary.

    There's also no question, of course, that Huckabee's ridiculously harsh view about AIDS was informed by general animus toward gays, since he also said in that 1992 questionnaire, "I feel homosexuality is an aberrant, unnatural, and sinful lifestyle, and we now know it can pose a dangerous public health risk."

    As off-the-wall as Huckabee's views may sound, they were within the mainstream among Arkansas conservatives at the time. I know because I come from a family of conservative Arkansas Republicans. Born and raised in Little Rock and just across the river in Memphis, I regularly debated a very intelligent uncle over whether AIDS could be spread by mosquitoes and whether it was, as Billy Graham had said, God's retribution against homosexuals. I was no bleeding heart, but my views were nonetheless seconded by no one.

    Huckabee's refusal to budge from his 1992 views on AIDS, while endearing him to hard-core conservatives like my kin, risks alienating not just moderates but Republicans who want to nominate someone who is electable. Worse yet, in avoiding at all costs appearing like Mitt Romney or Rudy Giuliani, who have flip-flopped the other direction on social issues, Huckabee invites an even more damaging comparison: to the current occupant of the White House.

    Whatever currency he gains with conservatives by rewriting the science of AIDS and sticking to inflammatory anti-gay rhetoric, he undermines his credibility with Americans -- including many Republicans -- who want a president who will unite the country and not stick stubbornly to views even when all evidence is to the contrary.

    We've seen what happens when a president buys into public panic -- in Bush's case about terrorism and "weapons of mass destruction" -- ignoring the data and the qualifiers put on the most dire warnings from experts. The last thing Americans want -- or need -- is another president like that.

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    Comments

    1. Andoni on Dec 13, 2007 12:46:12 PM:

      I would love to see Huckabee and Obama respectively be the nominees of their parties. That would be a very clear choice -- both ends of the party spectrum.

      And if America chooses Huckabee, that will be a clear signal to me that it is time to leave the country.

      Of course, if it's Obama vs Huckabee, that may give Bloomberg the opening he needs to run as a third party candidate. And if that happens, a pluarality may actually choose Huckabee.

    1. Kevin on Dec 14, 2007 12:45:04 PM:

      Huckabee is very unlikely to survive the next 2 months. Who the GOP will end up nominating - and what that candidate will have said and promised to get there -is another story.

      It's encouraging that there are still presidential candidates who genuinely want to inspire the public around positive ideas. It's sad, though, that they are inevitably tainted by the dehumanizing and reactionary processes that both political parties retain for birthing tickets.

    1. Double T on Dec 14, 2007 1:39:08 PM:

      Andoni,
      I agree with you. (And I am an Obama supporter)

      I doubt that Huckabee truly hates gays. It would surprise you how open minded many politicians are. However, in his mind, he's just being practical. He's taking the path of least resistance and playing to the crowd.

      I think the thing to watch is Huckabee’s love – panic.
      Politicians use Americans frail ego to scare them into horror’s like what is going on in Guantánamo Bay Naval Base.

      • A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.- Edward Abbey

      • Our Liberties We Prize and Our Rights We Will Maintain- home state motto

    1. Kary on Dec 14, 2007 4:08:04 PM:

      Interesting that a rightwing Baptist homophobic, neanderthal evangelical can be so appealing to the people who elected.....uh, GEORGE W BUSH! I feel exactly the way about evangelicals that he does about homosexuals. I think they are at the very least a public health hazard.....both mental health and physical health...can you say "abstinence programs"? DUH!

    1. Monster Beats Sale on Nov 26, 2011 2:57:31 AM:

      both mental health and physical health...can you say "abstinence programs"? DUH!

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