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Sunday, October 28, 2007
posted by Jeff Fuller | 1:39 AM | permalink
I responded to Kyle's "Huck's Missing Leg" blog entry below with the following comment (which I've expanded and added links):

Who said Huckabee is only missing one leg of the stool?

Sure, he does offer a solid "strong families" leg to the stool as a faithful social conservative . . .

Sure, he's the weakest GOP candidate on fiscal issues and therefore has a non-existent "strong economy" leg to his stool.

But we can't give him a pass on leg #3 "strong defense" . . . now I'm sure he doesn't want a weaker and less potent military (though he does seem to be a little off on his foreign policy.) But also a sizable part of the "strong defense" leg is issues such as being tough on crime and tough on immigration. On these issue, Huckabee is laughable as a GOP candidate. He's been reluctant to openly support the death penalty, he granted many pardons to criminals, and (and this will be the deal breaker for most social conservatives) he has a horrible record on immigration (here, here, and here) being about as pro-amnesty as you can be.

Looks like Mike's stool is actually only a pogo-stick . . . he may bounce around and attract some attention, but there is no solid foundation for his campaign.

P.S. Here are a few paragraphs shedding some light on Huck's crime/immigration record:
By far, Huckabee's most glaring mistake goes by the name of Wayne DuMond, a paroled rapist who murdered a woman after being released. DuMond's story is Southern Gothic, the Dukes of Hazzard meets John Grisham. He was a Vietnam veteran with a violent past and six children. In 1984, he was accused of raping a high school student in Forrest City, Ark., a town named for a founder of the Ku Klux Klan. The student happened to be a distant cousin of then-Gov. Bill Clinton, and the daughter of an influential local mortician. While DuMond was awaiting trial, two men broke into his home, hogtied and castrated him. The local sheriff, Coolidge Conlee, later displayed the testicles, floating in formaldehyde, for visitors to his office.

A mangled DuMond was eventually sentenced to life in prison, without the possibility of parole. But the distant Clinton affiliation soon turned his case into a cause. Right-wing radio hosts and columnists decried the severe sentence. They raised questions about the lack of DNA evidence, and railed against the small-town justice system, which never prosecuted DuMond's attackers. During the 1992 presidential campaign, while Clinton was traveling out of state, Tucker commuted DuMond's sentence to allow for the possibility of parole. When Huckabee became governor, he publicly announced that he intended to commute DuMond's sentence to time served. "My desire is that you be released from prison," he wrote DuMond in a letter. Before Huckabee signed any papers, the state parole board approved the prisoner's release. Two years later, DuMond murdered a woman in Missouri and later died in jail.

The case presents Huckabee with a clear problem, along the lines of Willie Horton, the furloughed rapist who helped sink the 1988 campaign of Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis. The attack ad almost writes itself: Huckabee, egged on by right-wingers, worked to free a rapist who murdered again. When I bring up the issue, the former Baptist minister becomes defensive and tries to place the blame elsewhere. "Jim Guy Tucker commuted this guy's sentence to make him parole eligible," Huckabee says, as we sit in the back of the minivan. "Clinton knew it, Tucker did it, and now they try to blame me for it." In 2002, several members of the parole board told the Arkansas Times that the governor had actively advocated for DuMond's release behind the scenes. Huckabee calls this a lie, but he acknowledges he made a public appeal for the parole. "And I certainly regret that, in light of what happened," he says.

But the DuMond debacle also provides a window into Huckabee's approach as he begins his run for president. He has refused to take the predictable path by talking tough on crime to deflect the DuMond criticism. Instead, he campaigns on a compassionate approach to wrongdoers, especially those whose crimes are the result of drug or alcohol addiction. At Philly's Finest, he condemned the "revenge-based corrections system," sounding every bit the sort of squishy liberal that the Bill O'Reillys of the world long ago scared into the shadows. "We lock up a lot of people we are mad at rather than the ones we are really afraid of," he said. "We incarcerate more people than anybody on earth." As governor, Huckabee pushed for drug treatment instead of incarceration for nonviolent offenders. He pushed for faith-based prison programs, and was critical of governors who "gladly pull the switch" on death penalty cases, an apparent knock on President Bush, who was criticized as governor of Texas for being cavalier about capital punishment.

On other issues as well, Huckabee refuses to toe the traditional conservative line. Wherever he goes, Republican audiences ask him about illegal immigration, and he answers with a meandering metaphorical anecdote about why the nation's borders should be as rigorous as airline security. But there is little doubt that Huckabee stands closer to President Bush, Ted Kennedy and John McCain on the issue than he does to the send-them-back-to-Mexico base of his own party. He speaks of creating a new process for receiving immigrants "who do want to come here, do jobs that we need them to do, do them in an orderly legal way."
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