Huckabee as Nixon? Not Exactly

Though Richard Nixon is long removed from presidential politics one can hear echoes if one listens closely enough. Okay, I admit that since I wrote a book on Nixon, I hear echoes of him in a lot of places where normal people don’t, but there is more to it than that. Members of the media have compared a few of the candidates to Nixon, but for brevity’s sake, I’ll only deal with one in this piece.

After some of Mike Hucakbee’s attacks on Mitt Romney, the former Arkansas governor has been compared to Nixon. This is fair to a degree, but it is not as fair as some Huckabee critics want the public to believe. When Huckabee convened the media and showed them an attack ad on Romney that he is pledging not to run, it did seem rather Nixon-esque. Trying to get credit for taking the high road while you kneecap your enemy was something Nixon was accused of multiple times. But it is a rare campaign winner who doesn’t play a little rough at least some of the time. The other manifestation of mean-spiritedness cited by Huckabee critics is actually quite unfair—to Huckabee. The former Arkansas governor publicly asked if Latter Day Saints believed that Jesus and Satan were brothers, prompting media figures to complain that Huckabee was a narrow-minded, hate mongering bigot. They say that Romney’s religious views should have no bearing on the election. But their attacks on Huckabee in this area are flawed. The notion that a person’s religious beliefs are irrelevant is a dangerous principle to try to establish. What if a candidate believed that God says women are inferior to men? Wouldn’t that be relevant to American voters? The idea that religious views don’t matter in an election only works depending on the views in question.

Interestingly, some in the media have mocked Huckabee for not believing that life was created by random mutations, even though Huckabee’s conclusions on this are derived from his religious faith. For consistency’s sake, shouldn’t media figures be attacking their colleagues for making an issue of Huckabee’s religious views? More interestingly, Huckabee’s views on Creation are shared by a majority of Americans, according to polls on the subject, but how many people have you met who think Jesus and Satan are brothers? This question brings up an interesting point since the answer to Huckabee’s question is “yes” (see Richard Abanes’ book Becoming Gods, page 181). Latter Day Saints doctrine does state that Jesus and Satan are brothers. It’s up to voters to decide whether or not this is significant. If the voters don’t care then the joke is on Huckabee. If they do care, it makes him a shrewd politician.