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.
BUT NEW INFECTIONS CAN BE PREVENTED IF WE, AS INDIVIDUALS, TAKE THE RESPONSIBILITY OF PROTECTING OURSELVES AND OTHERS FROM EXPOSURE TO THE AIDS VIRUS. AIDS IS NOT SPREAD BY CASUAL, NONSEXUAL CONTACT, IT IS SPREAD BY HIGH RISK SEXUAL AND DRUG RELATED BEHAVIORS–BEHAVIORS THAT WE CAN CHOOSE TO AVOID. EVERY PERSON CAN REDUCE THE RISK OF EXPOSURE TO THE AIDS VIRUS THROUGH PREVENTIVE MEASURES THAT ARE SIMPLE, STRAIGHTFORWARD, AND EFFECTIVE. HOWEVER, IF PEOPLE ARE TO FOLLOW THESE RECOMMENDED MEASURES–TO ACT RESPONSIBLY TO PROTECT THEMSELVES AND OTHERS–THEY MUST BE INFORMED ABOUT THEM. THAT IS AN OBVIOUS STATEMENT, BUT NOT A SIMPLE ONE. EDUCATING PEOPLE ABOUT AIDS HAS NEVER BEEN EASY.
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.