Columns » John Brummett

Huckabee revealed



We beheld a flurry of Mike Huckabee news over the weekend. It featured superficial judgment, predictable if unintended comedy, horrific human tragedy and, of course, a pathological unwillingness to accept personal responsibility, but rather to blame others.

Events began Saturday in Midland, Tex., where, at a Barnes & Noble book store, thousands were reported to have lined up to obtain Huckabee's signature on their copy of his latest cranked-out pamphlet for cash, which apparently is a collection of Christmas stories.

Persons interviewed by the local newspaper were quoted as saying the country needed Huckabee to become president and get up to Washington and straighten this mess out. They said they liked his populist conservatism and his TV show on Fox and his straight talk and that he played music.

One person was quoted as saying the best thing about Huckabee was that he was not “all spit and polish.”

There was your superficial judgment.

Huckabee isn't all spit and polish, of course. But his national political prominence is largely that.

You take away his spit and polish and you've got a decent small-town Baptist preacher and a guy who, reflecting an uncommon willpower and focus, once ridded himself of his considerable obesity and ran a few marathons. I will always give Huckabee admiring credit for that, if not much else.

Then, on Sunday, Huckabee went on a Fox News talk show and said he was disinclined to run for president in 2012 because his own television show on Fox was going great. There was your predictable if unintended comedy.

I told you when he ran for president in 2007-08 that he wasn't really running for president, but for a show on Fox. He was ginning up the glib to try out for a gig. And he got the gig.

Now he's making good money playing a politician on TV and radio and playing an author in Midland. And now he suggests strongly that he prefers the  gig to serving the country. There's a spirit of public service for you.

About the time he was talking on Fox, four police officers were being gunned to death in the state of Washington. There was your horrific human tragedy.

Soon the authorities were looking for a “person of interest.” This person, Maurice Clemmons, had been sentenced in 1989-90 in Arkansas to 108 years in prison for robbery, burglary and other charges.

But, in 2000, Huckabee, then governor of Arkansas, commuted Clemmons' sentence to make him eligible immediately for parole, which he soon received.

Huckabee's judgment was that Clemmons deserved a break because he'd been a teen-ager when sentenced.

Maybe Damien Echols needs to try that, rather than all this hard evidentiary nonsense.

Then Huckabee put out a statement saying that, if indeed Clemmons committed these senseless acts, it would reflect an abject failing of the criminal justice system, from the parole officials who recommended the commutation to the Arkansas authorities who bungled a subsequent arrest of Clemmons to the Washington authorities who had the man in custody on a child rape charge just weeks ago only to let him get away on bail and for a supposed psychiatric evaluation.

There was your unwillingness to accept personal responsibility.

While it is true that Arkansas authorities misplayed an arrest warrant and lost Clemmons in 2004, that happened only after Clemmons had been freed from essentially a life sentence that only Huckabee — only Huckabee — had commuted. Ditto for any subsequent snafu in Washington.

Bad judgment. Overplayed compassion grounded in his church-based obsession with the notion of redemption. Excuse-making.

Yes, Huckabee is right about one thing: That's all better-suited for a Fox gabfest than the presidency of the United States.

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