The following is a long and thoughtful comment by Larry Perrault (also part of a Larry-Steve exchange in the comment section). Larry, a brilliant guy with a background in theology, philosophy, and politics blogs at http://larryperrasult.blogspot.com. I urge you to visit Larry's staunchly pro-Huckabee site and, recognizing that he has MS, also say a prayer for him. As I've also had some significant health problems, I assured Larry that when we both got to Heaven, I was sure that there would be a question period. As one of my friends, also a philosophy major, put it: "Life is sure a silly puppy, ain't she? :-) My response to Larry follows.
Steve:We've disagreed and been nearly diametrically opposed on some matters. Yet, we've done so without flapping our wings and getting our feathers up. I wish a lot more disagreements were handled that way. People have visceral reactions, and calling their character into question when they do, usually exacerbates the discomfort. However you judge the prudence of a response, tread softly on the toes. Encourage, don't discourage.Now, speaking of all that, I had some responses, reading your post:First I want to say that I know it can be taken for granted in politics, but I shrink from ascribing political calculation to Mike Huckabee's actions.Call me naive, but I think he does those things because they are the right and Christlike thing to do, though he may rightly feel that that often turns out to be the most effective way to deal with them, too.Mike Huckabee didn't propose statehood for Washington DC, and I don't think he would. That would require an overt defiance and amendment of The Constitution. There goes the 2 senators. But he did say that voting rights for all of those citizens merited consideration, and I think he's right. Some special innovation would have to be designed for that.He didn't say he'd sign a ban on smoking in public places. He said he'd sign a smoking ban for workplace safety, like an OSHA regulation.I think what he said about immigration was just RIGHT: seal the borders (and filter dangerous people), but don't resent or restrain people who want to come to the US to work, as immigrants always have. My sentiments, exactly.He addressed groups like unionists and The Urban League and The National Education Association because its the right thing to do. But, he wouldn't support a government enforced closed union shop, endorse the withholding of merit pay, or government-enforced affirmative action.I think his statement about broadening perspective on the right to life is just that: get a wider angle lens on protecting and nurturing human life.It cheapens those things to distill them down to just politics. Will these things startle or frighten nervous people? Yes. I told you, I got outright reamed on a conservative blog, this week. And in the past, people have called ME extremist and jihadist and such. I can't change my beliefs, but I can and should work diligently on my tone.And speaking of immigration, I'm not or never was a McCain supporter. But he responded correctly: sealing the border was in the bill, "but the people didn't believe us." That's right. I didn't. Why should people believe them? They're going to enforce the new law, but not the old law? McCain got the message: We have to prove ourselves by sealing the border, first. DUH! Huckabee's position, BTW.Even if I thought I was right on the facts, I would go to the Romans bearing flowers. In fact, as a Huckabee supporter, I may do it, myself.
September 8, 2007 1:08 AM
My response: Larry, first of all: you, Treva, MassforHuckabee, and one or two others are convinced I should "apologize" to the Romans. Okay, here's one (of many) of the comments made by the Romans -- who seem to live a tandem life conjoined at the soul. This piece on Rudy Giuliani is by the "missus," but any differences between the two are impossible to detect:
"Giuliani - The Death Of The Constitution Tonight's [September 5] debate has definitely done at least one thing; showed how wrong Giuliani really is and that he is willing to lie and twist the truth to steal votes and cover his record. This man could not speak straight or keep a promise if his own life depended upon it. I am tired of people tip-toeing around calling the skunk for what he is. I have never embraced political correctness, I believe that is part of what is wrong with our society today, and I am not going to start now. This man's record speaks for him. This man does not believe the Constitution or Bill of Rights are practical or relevant any longer. He feels he has the right to decide who they apply to and who has lost the right to them. No matter how you wash that it will always come out a dictatorship." -- S. Roman
Attention Larry, Treva, MassHuckabee, and anybody else who has eyes to see: this statement does not in any sense represent Christian behavior. As Christians, you have an obligation to communicate to the Romans that their behavior -- their words -- are unacceptable. Rudy Giuliani is an authentic American hero, based on his exemplary performance on-and-after 9/11. That doesn't mean you or anyone else has to agree with him on gun control or right-t0-life or the War on Terror. But to call him an enemy of constitutional government or a proponent of dictatorship is absurd -- and just plain sinful behavior.
Frankly, if we want decent people (or anybody) to stand for national office, we have to speak about them with some degree of respect. One Huckabee backer (still visible on the Bloggers for Huckabee site and not named "Roman") says that if Hillary Clinton is elected President, which she probably will be, it would lead to the "persecution" of "hundred of Christians." From every bit of evidence I know of, that statement is totally false.
It is your obligation, and Treva's, and other Huckabee supporters to chastise that person. For Catholics (and Christians generally), it is a moral imperative to inform the person that he is in a state of what's historically called mortal sin.
Some of my fellow evangelicals (people who publicly proclaim and practice the Gospel of Jesus Christ, even when it's inconvenient to do so) believe it's okay to libel or slander people who not on their "side" politically. They ared dead wrong, as the Romans (either or both) are in their totally unproven allegations against Giuliani.
When our "friends" tell us what appear -- by any objective standard -- to be falsehoods about another human it's not our duty to nod our heads in assent. It is our obligation to say: Stop! Gov. Huckabee has done that repeatedly in his career, as he did with the Rev. Rude's unforunate anti-Catholic remark.
Sinful behavior by our "friends" is not something to praise -- or even to ignore. Larry, that's something I'm afraid you've fallen into. The statements by the Romans speak for themselves. I submit it's now the time for you, Treva, and others to speak for YOURSELVES. "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men (and good women) to do nothing."
I also submit it is Larry Perrault's (and Treva's) responsibility NOT to ask someone (who happens to be me) to "apologize" for chastising the Romans and asking how their behavior reflects their purported Christian beliefs. Smugness, hatred, and libel are NOT Christian behavior.
I criticized the Romans for removing their support for Mike Huckabee. It took them approximately one day to reverse that decision -- to decide the Huckabee they criticized so severely was actually the candidate they would support strongly. What exactly is the matter with these people? Perhaps we all crave attention to some degree, but this is ridiculous.
They have also withdrawn their support from Gov. Sarah Palin, one of the shining lights in the Republican Party, the conservastism movement, and Christian evangelism. Here's what they (he? she? both?) had to say about Gov. Palin on August 3, 2007:
D.Roman said... "Thanks [Steve], we are very excited about supporting Sarah Palin. I think a Huckabee/Palin ticket would win over a lot in independents and moderates and truly show what a big tent party we are without giving up any of our conservative ideals. For example Gov. Huckabee won over 48% of the African American vote in Arkansas and I believe this is one of the constituencies that the Republican Party, in general, has not shown enough attention to. Though I am very excited that Lynn Swann maybe running for the House. I was a supporter of his when he ran for Governor. Also, Michael Steele says that he may run for elected office again; I was also a supporter of his during his Senate run. I think with a President and Vice President who relate so easily with everyday men and women of this country we could really get a lot accomplished."
Gee, what exactly did Sarah Palin do to lose the support -- such as it is -- of D. Roman (although not of S. Roman? Relax, I jest)? The obvious answer is that these people are not exactly models of consistency or loyalty. No candidate, including Mike Huckabee, can conduct an effective campaign if his "strongest" supporters are changing their commitments on a daily basis.
As I've suggested, this is a challenging time for Mike Huckabee. He's trying to become something more than the champion of the evangelicals and the darling of the (tiny) homeschool group. As Larry suggests, he is not deviating from Christian positions, but he is trying to apeal generally to the American people (whom our government is "by and for"). As Larry also suggests, Mike's stances are drawing fire from a segment of the candidate's base. They presumably want Mike to be a "lovable loser," a situation he properly finds unacceptable.
If Mike Huckabee takes Christian positions on issues, including immigration and full voting rights for African-Americans, then people who are Christians should not denounce him. Also, if a person is a walking monument to adultery, such as Newt Gingrich, then it's not appropriate to compare him favorably to Rudy Giuliani, whose personal life is admittedly far-less-than-perfect.
It's extremely hard to get some people's attention. My chastisement of two people was justified, and I ask all Huckabee supporters to join me in encouraging these people not to take actions and make statements that are harmful to Mike and others.
Stephen R. Maloney
Supporter of Sarah Palin for President no later than 2016 (and maybe before)
P.S. I'd like to write more in coming weeks about evangelicals, which I realize is a much more diverse group than we urban-Yankees-types sometimes think. In 2004, people identifying themselves as evangelicals voted for George Bush by nearly 4-to-1. Of course, that means more than one-in-five self-described evangelicals voted for John Kerry. Apparently, in 2006, evangelical support for Republicans eroded significantly.
Also, there's a disturbing tendency for younger evangelicals -- concerned more about things like war, poverty, and climate problems -- to move toward the Democrats. As with nearly every other group in the nation, the older the (evangelical) voter the more likely they are to vote Republican. Clearly, as Republicans die off, the Democrats take greater and greater percentages of the votes. We desperately need to fix that.
I mentioned evangelical diversity: There's some evidence -- and I'd love to see more poll data on this if you have it -- that Rudy Giuliani, the supposedly "liberal" Republican is getting more evangelical support than Mike Huckabee, who's a former Baptist preacher. As one official of the Southern Baptist Convention put it, "These people want a winner, and they see Rudy Giuliani as tough enough to beat Hillary Clinton." (That's a paraphrase but it reflects closely what I heard him say.) There's little evidence evangelicals truly see Fred Thompson as "one of them," mainly because he's not.
Some supposedly "conservative" (social values) candidates aren't. I keep hearing how Fred Thompson is big on traditional families and has a great family life, etc. Tell that to his first wfe of more than 20 years, whom he dumped like a sack of kitty litter. Other people who criticize Giuliani for having one or two too many wives for a single lifetime actually salute the (unlikely) candidacy of Newt Gingrich, who may show up at any moment with wife number four.
Fred also supports (or doesn't support, depending on the day) a constitutional amendment making the Ozzie-and-Harriet variety the only permissible form of marriage. Of course, such a constitutional amendment might get enough votes to pass about the time Chelsea Clinton becomes a great grandma.
You'll find a lot of social values candidates (who really aren't such) proposing various constiutional amendments. None of them has even a chance of passing. A Senate vote in 2009 -- the next time big issues will get raised -- on such matters might produce 37 votes in favor (if that), well short of the 67 votes needed for passage. So, why do candidates -- most of them -- say they favor such an amendment? Social values voters can guess the answer to that one.
In other words, some people are reaching out with social values proposals designed not to make policy, but to get votes. I think Mike Huckabee (and one or two others perhaps) really would like to get rid of Roe v. Wade. But at the same time, they realize it may be impossible -- for at least a decade -- to do so via a constitutional amendment. On the Supreme Court, there MAY be four votes to overturn Wade (Roberts, Alito, Scalia, and Thomas). Judge Kennedy has somehow morphed into Sandra Day O'Connor
Where is the fifth vote going to come from? Note that John Roberts, who personally is opposed to abortion, is not a man who looks to overturn important precedents, which Roe is. There is no fifth vote, or maybe even a fourth.
When Miit Romney recently said it was time to return abortion to the states (where it was before Roe), supporters of Huckabee and Brownback (if he has any supporters left) jumped all over him.
But what if Mike got his wish -- a big one -- and pased an amendment overturning Roe? Then, the issue of abortion would return . . . to the states. This is basically what Rudy Giuliani is indicating as he indicated wildly to conservative about "appointing strict constructionist judges" -- that is, judges who would overturn Roe.
A good online friend of mine reads such comments and agrees with them but says this, "Steve, don't say it even if its' true. It would completely discourage social values voters."
However, I don't agree that it's best to let people rest in a kind of splendid ignorance of reality. If we can't accomplish everything we want, how can we achieve some things?
I want to write about what politics is -- and what it isn't. Politics is like marriage -- rarely if ever perfect.
I debate that issue regularly with my friend Larry Perrault. Politics can't make everything good. Politics can't act as if we live in a Christian theocracy rather than a largely secular representative democracy.
After the carnage at Fredericksburg, Robert E. Lee said to his generals: "It is a good thing war is so terrible, else we should love it too much." Sometimes I feel the same way about politics.
Yet, politics can make some "bad" things better. Also, with the wrong leadership, it can make bad things much worse. Without politics, there would be no Social Security. Without politics, John Roberts and Samuel Alito would be judges you'd never heard about.
So, politics can do some real good. However, it can't make everything as good as you'd like.
One of the great things about my new role in relation to the mechanics of the Palin Campign is that I can speak the truth exactly as I see it. I don't have to worry about offending some rabid supporter of Ron Paul or Tom Tancredo. Instead, I can be in my usual position of saying some things -- at some times -- that will offend nearly everyone.
What a joy!
Seriously, my emphasis on any problem we face is: how can we make it better? How can we build the coaltions necessary to improve things? Ultimately, how we make our government increasingly one that's "of, by, and for the people? "
Stephen R. Maloney