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Hugh defends Mike Huckabee against Christian Reconstructionist charges by Professor Stephen Bainbridge

Thursday, January 17, 2008
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HH: We begin this hour, though, with me defending Mike Huckabee. Yes, you heard that right. I’m about to defend Mike Huckabee with Stephen Bainbridge as the opponent here. Professor Bainbridge, of course, a professor of law at the University of California, Los Angeles, also blogs at www.professorbainbridge.com. And I read one of your posts today, Stephen, welcome back, by the way, Happy New Year.

SB: Thank you, good to hear you.

HH: And it’s entitled Huckabee Going Off The Rails. And I thought when I started to read it that you would be upset with some of Huck’s economic policies. But you are accusing him of being a Christian reconstructionist. Is that fair? And why don’t you explain to people what you mean by that.

SB: Well, I think it would be unfair to accuse Huck of being a Christian reconstructionist. And if the post implied that I was directly accusing him of being a reconstructionist, I apologize for that. What I was suggesting is number one, Huck has been kind of loose in his language. You remember when he was in Michigan, he had some very sort of loose language about it being easier to change the Constitution than the Bible, and needing to amend the Constitution so it’s in God’s standards. And I’ve put up on my website, Professorbainbridge.com, a link to the video of that. Now in the Beliefnet interview, he’s clarified that to say he’s talking about marriage and abortion. And okay, I’ll take him at his word. He is, after all, a preacher. But he’s still associated with some reconstructionists. Back in December, Huckabee had a major fundraiser at the home of Dr. Steven Hotze, who is a leading figure in Christian reconstructionism. And Rick Scarborough of Vision America was one of the co-chairs of that fundraiser. And just as I think myself and others have called on Ron Paul to say, clarify how his relationship with some of the people that he’s been associated with, I don’t think it’s unfair to ask Governor Huckabee to clarify his relationship with people like John Hagee, the very virulent anti-Catholic preacher at his Church. Huckabee has appeared with people like Scarborough. And I realize this is in a question of guilty by association, but he’s getting a lot of money from these people, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask him to say where he stands vis-à-vis them.

HH: Well, let’s unpack that for a second. First of all, at your website, you write, “More generally, the idea that the Constitution should be subjected to Biblical standards smacks of Christian reconstructionism, which is pretty damn scary.” I think given what we understood Huckabee to be talking about, and I immediately heard it and I knew he was talking about a marriage amendment and a pro-life amendment…by the way, do you support those two amendments?

SB: I certainly support the idea of protecting the traditional definition of marriage and the right to life. How we go about doing that as a pragmatic matter, I think reasonable people can disagree about. I tend to support a right to life amendment. I tend to be more skeptical of a defense of marriage amendment, although I think that I’m with Fred Thompson on that issue, that unless the courts push us to the brink, I would rather see that decided on a state by state basis.

HH: But lots of people who are not Christian reconstructionists support a marriage amendment. That’s what I’m getting at.

SB: Oh, yeah, that’s clear.

HH: So my…

SB: And if you think that’s all Huckabee’s talking about, then the question becomes, well, what about his connections with people like Rushdoony and Hotze and Scarborough?

HH: And we’ll come to that in a second. But I mean, when you say that the Constitution should be subjected to Biblical standards smacks of Christian reconstructionism, against the backdrop of who Mike is, and again, I don’t agree with him on economic policy, but I very much agree with him on the marriage amendment and pro-life issues, it’s just not fair, because Christian reconstructionism is, while not de-legitimate like a racist approach or anything, it’s outside of the mainstream by a lot. And that’s what we bring next to taking money from someone who says, you know, I believe in Christian reconstructionism is no way like taking money from a racist. It’s taking money from someone with whom your ven diagram might overlap only a little. But I think you’re trying to run these guys out of the public square, and they’re not my, I don’t agree with them, but they have every right to argue for a different kind of Constitution, and I don’t think Huckabee ought to be tarred with 100% acceptance of their views any more than whomever your candidate is ought to be tarred with 100% of the views of anyone who contributes to them.

SB: I think that’s a fair criticism, but you know, when you scroll down my post, what I say at the end of that section is that what I’m calling on Huckabee to do is to clarify his relationship with the reconstructionists. And I don’t think that’s an unreasonable request, because these folks are, you know, pretty much at the outer edge of what at least I would regard as acceptable debate, I mean, I don’t think they’re the equivalent of racists, but certainly, some of their attitudes towards Catholics, for example, you know, we had some of Rushdoony’s people, for example, suggesting that there might be sanctuaries for those of us who don’t believe that way, and you know, Father Richard Neuhaus has compared that to the idea of having Jewish ghettos.

HH: And again, I’m, I just think it’s not right to assert, or to oblige Huckabee to answer for the positions of intellectuals arguing about the law, and what the law ought to be, unless they are overtly racist. And I don’t think that is. And I also know that the Hagee comments got him into trouble, but he distanced himself. He came out and said look, I don’t agree with Pastor Hagee on this. I’ve got Catholics on my staff. It just seems to me that there are a lot of things to disagree with this political season. We don’t have to cartoon these guys. And do you think you’ve been fair to Huck?

SB: I do think I’ve been fair to Huck, because I think when you’ve got this sort of very loose language he used in Michigan, coupled with his relationship with these folks, I think it would be reasonable to say to Huck, look, you need to sit down and really tell us in detail what you think the relationship between Biblical principles and the Constitution is. Are you really just talking about a defense of marriage amendment and a right to life amendment? And if so, how do you distinguish them, that from all the other ways in which Biblical standards might be inconsistent, or with the Constitution? For example, if you think there ought to be a defense of marriage amendment, and a right to life amendment because you believe in Biblical standards, why not an amendment to ban pornography?

HH: And you see…

SB: And that’s the kind of thing that I think he could address.

HH: But I think that slips us over into the Article 6 forbidden religious test. I think all of a sudden, you know, I’ve always been defending Romney against an inquisition on his Mormon theology. All of a sudden, I want to defend Huckabee against an inquisition on his Protestant theology, as I would have defended Kennedy on an inquisition on his Catholic theology. I just had a chance, by the way, to watch the Kennedy 1960 speech in the course of the documentary, Article 6, and it’s very moving, and he says look, you can’t judge me on my theology. You have to judge me on what I propose. And as far as I know, Huckabee’s proposed two Constitution amendment, and only two, and now you’re asking him to answer a negative. And I think that that drags our politics down into an area of speculation, as opposed to that which has been put forward by the candidates.

SB: Well, fair enough, but when you say, quote, and I’m going to give you the direct quote that Huckabee gave in Michigan, “To amend the Constitution so it’s in God’s standards rather than try to change God’s standards so it lines up with some contemporary view,” I think that that quotation raises a sufficient red flag to say what exactly do you mean by it?

HH: And he got asked that. Asked and answered, although as soon as I heard it, on this program, I said I know what he’s saying, he’s talking about marriage, and he’s talking about pro-life issues. He’s not talking about anything else. And I guess I’d throw at you, Professor Bainbridge, he was governor for ten years, did some things I like, did some things I didn’t like. He did not advance a constructionist or reconstructionist agenda, however broadly understood that is. And as a result, is it fair to assert he’d do so as president?

SB: Well, A) I’m not asserting, I’m just raising the question. But even setting that aside, well, look at what he did in the same post that you’re talking about, one of the reasons that I say that I’m having a problem with Mike Huckabee is the flip-flop that he just pulled immigration.

HH: Well again, I saw that.

SB: Michelle Malkin, our mutual friend, says of Huckabee, he’s an open border drag queen, and he’s piling on the makeup and jewels again to disguise his pro-illegal immigration record.

HH: And that’s just crazy by Michelle.

SB: Well, yeah, but you know…

HH: Do you agree that that’s crazy?

SB: I thought Michelle was a little shrill on her reaction.

HH: Yeah, I mean, he proposed in-state tuition tax credits, but that’s a long way from being an open borders, you know…

SB: But it is certainly true that he’s taking a more restrictionist view on immigration as a presidential candidate, I think.

HH: Yes, he is, but that’s prudence. I think we want prudence in our presidents, don’t we, Professor B?

SB: Yes, but not flip-flopping.

HH: It’s not flip-flopping. He’s moving in the right direction. This is my argument that like Reagan, we ought to encourage everyone to move in the right direction, even pundits. So Professor B, I look forward to more. www.professorbainbridge.com, thanks for joining me.

End of interview.

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