Huckabee ’92: Isolate AIDS patients; Update: Huck issues statement

posted at 3:06 pm on December 8, 2007 by Allahpundit

DuMond and his clemency record, the flip-flop on Gitmo, the NIE fiasco, calling ICE “INS” in his new immigration plan, attributing his poll surge to a power that’s “not human,” and now this — and that’s just the past week. Tuition breaks for illegals, the “Christian leader” ad, the 2003 any-tax’ll-do speech, and his support for the Fair Tax were all already a matter of blogospheric record.

Whatever they’re paying their new research guy to deal with all this crap, it’s not enough.

As a candidate for a U.S. Senate seat in 1992, Huckabee answered 229 questions submitted to him by The Associated Press. Besides a quarantine, Huckabee suggested that Hollywood celebrities fund AIDS research from their own pockets, rather than federal health agencies.

“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,” Huckabee wrote.

“It is difficult to understand the public policy towards 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, and in which this deadly disease for which there is no cure is being treated as a civil rights issue instead of the true health crisis it represents.”…

When Huckabee wrote his answers in 1992, it was common knowledge that AIDS could not be spread by casual contact. In late 1991, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there were 195,718 AIDS patients in the country and that 126,159 people had died from the syndrome.

He supports public funding for AIDS now, as the AP notes. The last paragraph is the key: Was he so ignorant as not to know as late as ’92 that AIDS wasn’t communicable through casual contact or was he so vindictive that he did know and supported a quarantine anyway, just because? Given the misinformation under which he’s been operating about the “INS” and the new NIE that he thinks was four years old, I’m not so sure it’s vindictiveness. The guy simply may not know what he’s talking about a lot of the time. Or (or perhaps because) he may be easily swayed: That was Jonathan Chait’s theory for Huck’s conversion to the Fair Tax (a more charitable interpretation, incidentally, than Rich Lowry has) and it also seems to explain Huck’s reversal on Gitmo, which came after meeting with a group of retired generals. Which brings us to a second key question. Are these notable flip-flops the product of naked pandering to the base, as seemed to be the case in adopting Krikorian’s immigration plan after having described opposition to Bush’s amnesty bill as “nativist” in 2006, or is Huck just a soft mark for ideologues trying to bend him to their side? Whatever the answer is, it’s extremely worrisome.

Needless (and sad) to say, there’s a small segment of the GOP base that won’t fault him for his old AIDS remarks — although, interestingly, that same segment may now be curious to know why he’s since reversed himself. Also interesting is whether any of the other Republican candidates will have the balls to call him on this. Rudy won’t because social cons are already suspicious of his prior support for gay rights; Fred and especially Mitt can’t afford to since they’re competing with Huck to be the truest “True Conservative” and any softness towards gays will be a step backwards. That leaves McCain, who may sense an opportunity to outflank Rudy towards the center while earning himself some media buzz before New Hampshire in the process. Bet on Maverick.

Also needless to say, if Huck’s the nominee the Democrats will bludgeon him with this in the general. And if they do, expect to hear the words “Robert Byrd” a lot in his replies.

I leave you with this, which is also worrisome but isn’t related to the subject at hand — except insofar as it suggests Huck’s adherence to the golden rule is sometimes, shall we say, selective:

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said at a campaign stop today that America has to work to re-establish relationships with other countries…

Huckabee also said that nations deserve the same kind of treatment that individuals do.

“You treat others the way you’d like to be treated,” he said. “That’s to me the fundamental issue that has to be re-established in our dealings with other countries.”

Update: Speaking of flip-flops and selective principles

Update: Here’s Huck’s statement on the subject via the hardest-working research director in the business. His explanation: We weren’t sure what caused the disease in 1992 — an assertion that will no doubt be challenged by AIDS awareness advocates — and so it was better to be safe than sorry. Now that we know, no need for a quarantine, obviously.

“In the late 80’s and early 90’s we were still learning about the virus that causes AIDS. My concern, as a Senate candidate at the time, was to deal with the virus using the same public health protocols that medical science and public health professionals would use with any infectious disease.

Before a disease can be cured and contained we need to know exactly how and with near certainty what level of contact transmits the disease. There was still too much confusion about HIV transmission in those early years. Recall that in 1991, Kimberly Bergalis testified in front of Congress after contracting HIV from her dentist, and that summer a study was published showing that HIV was transmitted through breastmilk more easily than had been thought. But the federal government provided some guidelines: Also in 1991 the Centers for Disease Control recommended restrictions on the practice of HIV-positive health care workers.

At the time, there was widespread concern over modes of transmission and the possibility of epidemic. In the absence of conclusive data, my focus was on efforts to limit the exposure of the virus, following traditional medical practices developed from our public health experience and medical science in dealing with tuberculosis and other infectious diseases.

We now know that the virus that causes AIDS is spread differently, with a lower level of contact than with TB. But looking back almost 20 years, my concern was the uncertain risk to the general population – if we got it wrong, many people would die needlessly. My concern was safety first, political correctness last.

My administration will be the first to have an overarching strategy for dealing with HIV and AIDS here in the United States, with a partnership between the public and private sectors that will provide necessary financing and a realistic path toward our goals. We must prevent new infections and provide more accessible care. We must do everything possible to transform the promise of a vaccine and a cure into reality.

Furthermore, I am proud that the United States has led the global battle against HIV/ AIDS. We have both a strategic interest as the world’s only superpower and a moral obligation as the world’s richest country to continue to do so until this scourge is a memory.

I supported the current Administration’s proposal to double our initial commitment from $15 billion to $30 billion over the next five years for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). PEPFAR has already done an extraordinary amount of good, by providing drugs for over a million people and care for four-and-a-half million people, but it expires in 2008 and must be reauthorized. I support an increase in our commitment to the Global Fund. Through PEPFAR and the Global Fund, we can do our fair share to meet the Millennium Development Goals we affirmed in 2000, which include universal access to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and care.”

Update: Some readers are e-mailing to say it isn’t fair of me to assert that Huck may have thought AIDS was caused by casual contact, that it may have been he knew very well in 1992 what the causes were but thought that AIDS patients should have been isolated anyway. The new statement undercuts that argument, but here’s my response to it in the comments anyway.

Update: I’m far from being an expert on AIDS but C. Everett Koop was confident enough in the causes and non-causes of the disease to include this in his famous report in October 1986. Sorry for the all-caps; that’s how it appears in the PDF.


According to NIH, Koop mailed an eight-page synopsis of the report to all American households in May 1988, the largest mailing in American history to that time. That doesn’t eliminate Huck’s point about the Bergalis case but it does suggest he would have or should have known at the time that cases like that were outliers, if the fact that there were still “only” 200,000 cases as of 1992 and not the tens of millions we would have seen by then if the disease was transmitted by air hadn’t already convinced him.

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but I believe he did what he felt was right at the time.

Spacen on December 8, 2007 at 11:03 PM

I’m sure Jimmy Carter did what he felt was right at the time as well. So did Bill Clinton with Monica Lewinsky. Does doing what one felt was right at the time excuse virtually anything, or are there limits?

FloatingRock on December 8, 2007 at 11:47 PM

If you elect Hucklebee, the Left is going to get what they want out of him, but then give him hell when events force him to get tough in foreign policy.

If you elect Hilary, the Left is going to get what they want out of her, and then mostly go along with her when events force her to be tough in foreign policy.

Plus, with Hucklebee, the Left will always be looking at us as though we’re supposed to defend him.

Tzetzes on December 9, 2007 at 12:12 AM

Yeah, the fact that just in the past week he was caught more than once lying, tapdancing, changing his story when he got caught, and just generally acting like any other politician really says volumes about his character. As does the fact that he replaced very few Clinton appointees when he took office. Yep, that guy’s got character out the wazoo–unfortunately it’s just not the good kind. The fact that he gives so many clueless answers may not be malicious on his part, he may just genuinely be clueless–but either way it isn’t something I’m looking for in a President.

I can’t even imagine being able to willfully blind myself to any candidate’s faults, which means that I have to hold my nose pretty much any time I vote. On the other hand, I guess it beats being a sucker.

ReubenJCogburn on December 9, 2007 at 1:48 AM

Huck’s got his skis on, the boat is gassed up, and the shark is circling. Any minute now…

Laura on December 9, 2007 at 2:04 AM

Does doing what one felt was right at the time excuse virtually anything, or are there limits?

FloatingRock on December 8, 2007 at 11:47 PM

It appears that with The High Reverend Huckster any limits are on wheels.

MB4 on December 9, 2007 at 2:24 AM

This guy is a real Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde. One minute he’s an extreme liberal by paroling a rapist. The next minute he’s an extreme conservative by wanting to put every AIDS patient in quarantine. Will the real Mike Huckabee please stand up.

SoulGlo on December 9, 2007 at 3:38 AM

“How many of you guys are in favor of closing down the tobacco industry? It would save a lot of lives.

Allahpundit on December 8, 2007 at 4:21 PM”

Interesting example. From where I sit, sufferers of the tobacco illness have been effectively quarantined from the rest of us through no smoking ordinances. Some are even quarantined from their children driving in a car! To say we don’t as a society quarantine others who pose a risk, however remote (second hand smoke? I sat at my moms side all through childhood and the ashtray always held one. Whatever) is not being honest. It’s politically acceptable to let people with AIDS, people who can engage in something with as strong a biological urge as unprotected sex for god’s sake, and infect another human. But cigarettes are more of a ‘nuisance’ so sufferers of the tobacco affliction get the harsher quarantine.

/Personally I am quite please smoking has been pretty much become a quaratined activity.
//Father’s father was quarantined with TB and he died in a sanitarium
///How do you make paragraph breaks?

pc on December 9, 2007 at 3:57 AM

It’s politically acceptable to let people with AIDS interact freely with the general public, affliction hidden. This is in spite of the fact they could succumb to something as primal as the urge to have sex, and sex is generally an activity where safety is more often than not a subserviant concern. All because of a political decision, just like the reverse case of quarantining cigarette smokers.

there, said it better!

pc on December 9, 2007 at 4:00 AM

If you think hard about it, it’s really outrageous we as a society have allowed others who have a terrible affliction, one that’s spread through unprotected sexual activity, to wander freely among the rest of us, unknowing of their status. This is like condoning suicide bombing in a way. We are some strange creatures when you get right down to it.

Will this policy one day be looked back on as wrongheaded as the liberal policy of not allowing brush to be cleared from the hills of southern california? The virus could mutate into something more deadly and virulent. It could happen. Personally I don’t have a dog in this fight, only being intellectually honest about what we as a society have signed off on.

pc on December 9, 2007 at 4:09 AM

Face it. Viruses are good. They are the agents of organic quality control. A person get’s sick with a cold virus and starts spewing the virus in all directions sending out the agent to other humans. They either accept or reject the virus, sending it to the next test subject. The benefits of natural selection are obvious. AIDS is the same thing. Cancer too. People comingle blood and don’t always cause the AIDS virus of the infected to be imprinted on the other. Instead the virus probes and if the non-infected person has a genetic weakness, they succumb. Same with cancer in my opinion. There’s a virus or a family of virii that are being passed around and if the test subject is succeptible, they get ill and die or are kept alive through science while the body attempts to die. With corn or any other crop, there’s rust or whatever virus and the corn that survives is the corn that should carry on. Same deal.

pc on December 9, 2007 at 4:26 AM

And on the eighth day, God created The High Reverend Huckster to go forth into America and save the country from the evils of rationality.

MB4 on December 9, 2007 at 4:37 AM

I think we need to get Huck behind the wheel of a tank. He would look great, really.

BDavis on December 8, 2007 at 4:24 PM

One of you brilliant folks out there need to do a VIRAL AD right now and take this clown out. (the clown bein’ Huckabee not BDavis)

Ex-tex on December 9, 2007 at 9:43 AM

Why is AIDS even an issue? It’s not even in the top ten killer diseases. If it were not for the gay agenda, we would even be talking about it.

There are far more pressing issues and diseases with a much higher mortality rate than AIDS. It’s a non issue in my mind.

BobJones-77 on December 9, 2007 at 10:26 AM


corona on December 9, 2007 at 12:34 PM

Why is AIDS even an issue? It’s not even in the top ten killer diseases. If it were not for the gay agenda, we would even be talking about it.

It’s a costly disease in the number of productive years it takes away, since it young people contract it. Funding for research often tracks the marketing done. That is why breast cancer gets more dollars than lung cancer.

Huck’s comments probably won’t be much of a problem for him. The treatments for HIV have decreased the mortality rate and no one takes quarantine seriously. His comments were 15 years ago.

dedalus on December 9, 2007 at 1:24 PM

Alot of lives would have been saved if the first AIDS patients had been quarantined instead of allowed to roam free. Hell alot of lives would have been saved if they had done partner histories of AIDS patients, and notified people of their risk of exposure. But the gays privacy was sacroscant.
Advocates framed quarantining as imprisonment and as a form of bigotry. Who wants to imprison an innocent person? Who wants to be called a bigot? So people were allowed to die so no one’s feelings were hurt.
With crackerjack policy making like that, we deserve a health care system where costs spiral out of control.

Iblis on December 9, 2007 at 1:39 PM

pedestrian on December 8, 2007 at 6:24 PM

Behind every stereotype there is some degree of truth. This – and I’ve known homosexuals (very good friends of my family) who can attest to it, plus which done my own research – is no exception.

Ryan Gandy on December 9, 2007 at 3:14 PM

And the monkey flips the switch…….

I wonder how much more the country can take of the 3% of voters in Iowa picking our national leaders…

Carter, Bush I, Clinton, Bush II, Huckaee? OBAMA!!!!

Think of the ones who were picked and lost

Dukakis, MONDALE, Gore, Kerry….

And great men who were passed over for idiots

Ford, Dole

And people wonder why America isn’t respected anymore

EricPWJohnson on December 9, 2007 at 10:22 PM

versus launching a public education campaign to use condoms and clean needles, why go with the former?
Allahpundit on December 8, 2007 at 4:21 PM

Why would one be in favor of government intervention? They made their decisions let them enjoy the consequences of it.

MarkB on December 10, 2007 at 11:39 AM

my analogy works anyway.

paul006 on December 8, 2007 at 5:03 PM
Your analogy was right on target.

FloatingRock on December 8, 2007 at 5:17 PM

Sorry this analogy comes no where close to working!!!

MarkB on December 10, 2007 at 11:48 AM

How many of you guys are in favor of closing down the tobacco industry? It would save a lot of lives.

Allahpundit on December 8, 2007 at 4:21 PM

Maybe we should just not allow the production of cars that go over the speed limit too?

hollygolightly on December 10, 2007 at 12:08 PM

300,000 (last time i checked the numbers) improbably infected with AIDS make the case for quarrantine more effectively than any words I could hope to muster AND trump anything the anti quarrantine folks have to say.

Trying to compare this issue to Guns, tobacco and anything else is comparing apples and oranges. Guns are probably the closest, but guns can’t mutate into an aerobic death dealing plauge, AIDS can.

dogsoldier on December 10, 2007 at 12:33 PM

I don’t agree with Huckabee on all things but he was spot-on about isolating those who carry a virus, which has spread a disease that has become a deadly epidemic throughout the world.

According to the CDC, June 2007 revision: “In the United States, HIV infection and AIDS have had a tremendous effect on men who have sex with men (MSM). MSM accounted for 71% of all HIV infections among male adults and adolescents in 2005…

Political correctness is killing us.

sinsing on December 11, 2007 at 11:04 AM