I’ve looked for a transcript but can’t find one so I’m forced to rely on HuffPo’s account of what he said. On the one hand, they’re a lefty news site, doubtless eager to put his quotes in the worst possible light. On the other hand, their reporter is Jon Ward, who used to work for the Daily Caller and is respected in the field. On the other other hand, the rhetoric sounds kind of Huck-ish, doesn’t it? With some pols, you can look at a quote that’s attributed to them and say, nah, no way. With Huck, you never know when a curveball’s coming. And this subject, the perils of the “RINO” label, has been on his mind lately.
Has it come to this?
“Let’s stop calling each other somehow less Republican than someone else. Be for the person you’re for,” Huckabee said.
He said that he will be traveling to Auschwitz next week for the anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camp, and noted that the horror of the Holocaust began with the devaluation of people.
“It all started when people were devalued, when people were deemed ‘less than someone else,'” Huckabee said. “We look back on that time in history and we think, ‘How can educated people, university trained, how can a nation like Germany with all of its resources, with its vast level of its population with higher education, get to a place where they can do something so heinous?’ You realize that the only way you can end up there is when you start with the idea that people just aren’t as valuable as you are.”
The clear implication by Huckabee was that those within the GOP who make a habit of demeaning others as not conservative enough are flirting with behavior that can have grave ramifications down the road. It was a serious charge…
“And if I accept that for the great human family, and I’m willing to value every human life as having worth and intrinsic value, then surely I’ll be able to value the life of those who voluntarily join me in a party that I joined when I was a teenager,” he said.
Ward was challenged on his description on Twitter. Here’s his rough transcript of what Huck said:
— Jon Ward (@jonward11) January 23, 2014
Assuming that’s accurate, he’s saying … what? That the path to Auschwitz runs through calling him a RINO? No, c’mon. All he’s saying, I think, is that using purity tests to “devalue” others is harmful and apt to lead to purges, whether at a silly trivial level like “RINO” or a grand sinister one like calling Jews “vermin.” He’s not equating the two. Which is fine, except that all political self-identification is inherently exclusionary. If you support single-payer and abortion on demand and call yourself “Republican,” you’re apt to catch some flak — including from Mike Huckabee, I’d bet. The best you can do to redeem his argument is say that ultimately he’s calling for more civility: When you shoo a liberal out of the party, there’s no need to demean him by slapping a pejorative neologism on him. Call him what he is, a liberal Democrat. (For example: “Mike Huckabee, liberal Democrat.”) Okay, but that’s an awfully basic point to require illumination with a Nazi analogy.
In fact, if he’s going to do that, why not use Nazi analogies to discourage all bad practices? E.g., “My three-year-old lied to me about sneaking a cookie from the cookie jar last night, so I reminded her that Hitler told many Big Lies en route to the Final Solution.” “My husband put a ‘Huckabee 2016’ bumper sticker on our car yesterday so I reminded him that Goebbels too used propaganda to hand power to a lunatic.” The punchline here is that Huck’s pushing this dumb anti-RINO campaign because he wants to get tea partiers and libertarians off his back if/when he runs again in 2016, but going Godwin on them just means they’re going to be more antagonistic. Imagine the historical lessons they’ll have for him about the perils of, say, supporting bigger government to “do good.”
Exit question: Second look at Rick Santorum as designated social-con champion in 2016?