An excerpt from columnist Dick Polman's blog, "Dick Polman's American Debate."
In the latest church news - excuse me, Republican presidential campaign news - we have some fresh developments concerning GOP prospect Mike Huckabee and his running mate, God. (Or perhaps it's the other way around.)
Over the weekend, the Associated Press reported that Huckabee, during his unsuccessful 1992 bid for a U.S. Senate seat, had willingly shared his concerns about gay people. He told [AP], "I feel homosexuality is an aberrant, unnatural and sinful lifestyle, and we now know it can pose a dangerous public-health risk." Since presidential hopeful Huckabee stressed just the other day that his convictions are "deeply held, consistent, authentic," we can only assume that today he still sees gay people as he saw them in 1992 - although his '92 biblical admonition seems at odds with the sunny image he's currently seeking to project.
His '92 judgment on gay people - and the fact that he said nothing this weekend to distance himself from that judgment - certainly won't hurt him in Iowa and South Carolina. He needs religious conservative voters to sustain his insurgent campaign, and they generally share that judgment anyway. But it's hard to imagine that, if he somehow snagged the '08 GOP nomination, his views on gays would endear him to the centrist swing voters who are crucial to winning in November. Swing voters tend to be fairly tolerant of gay people, and generally averse to biblical admonitions. And polls indicate that voters under the age of 30 are even more tolerant; their demographic supports the concept of gay marriage more than any other.
But what voters in general tend to dislike is a double-talking politician. Consider Huckabee's response [Tuesday] on
, when asked about his other '92 statement that gays should be quarantined from the general population in order to contain the AIDS epidemic. (Never mind the fact that, seven years earlier, the federal government had publicly concluded that AIDS was not spread through casual contact.) Huckabee, in his response . . . engaged in some evasive wordplay that would have put Bill Clinton to shame.
Here's what he had said in 1992: "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. . . . It is difficult to understand the public policy toward 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 . . ."
When asked about that statement on
, here's what he said: "I didn't say that we should quarantine."
Well, actually, that's exactly what he said. His '92 phrase ("we need to take steps that would isolate the carriers of this plague") is synonymous with "should."
But Huckabee, clearly sensing [Tuesday] that he'd taken the wrong tack, didn't try to parse his words any further. Rather than continuing to try to weasel out of what he said in '92, he quickly reverted to consistent-conviction mode, and declared that he would stand by his old comments rather than try to "recant" them. So, with respect to pleasing his growing fan base on the religious right, he probably emerged unscathed from that episode.