Mystifying. But then this is the same guy who decided to pick a culture-war fight with Beyonce despite knowing that he’d have to break out of his niche as a social-con warrior to have any chance at the GOP nomination.

Not being too judge-y about youthful intra-family child molestation seems like a smart hill for the GOP to fight on in 2016.

Janet and I want to affirm our support for the Duggar family. Josh’s actions when he was an underage teen are as he described them himself, ‘inexcusable,’ but that doesn’t mean ‘unforgivable.’ He and his family dealt with it and were honest and open about it with the victims and the authorities. No purpose whatsoever is served by those who are now trying to discredit Josh or his family by sensationalizing the story. Good people make mistakes and do regrettable and even disgusting things. The reason that the law protects disclosure of many actions on the part of a minor is that the society has traditionally understood something that today’s blood-thirsty media does not understand—that being a minor means that one’s judgement is not mature. No one needs to defend Josh’s actions as a teenager, but the fact that he confessed his sins to those he harmed, sought help, and has gone forward to live a responsible and circumspect life as an adult is testament to his family’s authenticity and humility. Those who have enjoyed revealing this long ago sins in order to discredit the Duggar family have actually revealed their own insensitive bloodthirst, for there was no consideration of the fact that the victims wanted this to be left in the past and ultimately a judge had the information on file destroyed—not to protect Josh, but the innocent victims. Janet and I love Jim Bob and Michelle and their entire family. They are no more perfect a family than any family, but their Christian witness is not marred in our eyes because following Christ is not a declaration of our perfection, but of HIS perfection. It is precisely because we are all sinners that we need His grace and His forgiveness. We have been blessed to receive God’s love and we would do no less than to extend our love and support for our friends. In fact, it is such times as this, when real friends show up and stand up. Today, Janet and I want to show up and stand up for our friends. Let others run from them. We will run to them with our support.

Here’s the timeline of what Josh Duggar did and when, per InTouch magazine’s reporting. The Duggar parents and Josh himself issued statements yesterday acknowledging that he had “acted inexcusably.” At the time his parents told their church’s elders what he’d confessed to them and ended up sending him to a Christian program for four months that included “hard physical work and counseling,” but the counseling apparently didn’t come from certified counselors and his parents didn’t speak with the cops for more than a year. Arkansas police considered investigating him for multiple sex offenses, including felonies, but the investigation stalled for reasons that are unclear and the statute of limitations eventually passed. Now Josh works as a lobbyist for the Family Research Council — or rather, worked. He resigned yesterday before this blast of support from Huckabee. The Duggars’ show, “19 Kids and Counting,” has been pulled from TLC’s schedule with no guarantee that it’ll ever be back.

How common is sibling molestation? Not uncommon at all, per one professional child-abuse investigator. But that doesn’t mean it’s not serious.

It’s a five on a scale of one to 10, according to this investigator, but disturbing enough that he’d want reassurances that Duggar’s own kids are safe. Which is to say, Huckabee’s assumptions don’t hold among people who deal with these crimes professionally. It’s not necessarily true that the family “dealt with it” as thoroughly as they needed to; Josh would need to be interviewed to confirm that. And it’s not true that this sort of thing can be comfortably dismissed as a youthful mistake or byproduct of immaturity if there’s concern among pros for Duggar’s kids now. One of the reasons molestation cases are so hair-raising to people is that some offenders do it compulsively, to dozens or hundreds of victims. That’s not to say Duggar is one of them, but you wouldn’t want to bet big against recidivism in a crime like this.

So then: Why is Mike Huckabee staking political capital on this? Yeah, fine, the Duggar parents are enthusiastic supporters of his, which gives him a little extra cred among evangelicals. But he could return the affection here without going to bat for Josh with let-bygones-be-bygones rhetoric: E.g., “What Josh has confessed to is horrible but his parents remain two of the finest, most exemplary Christians I know. My prayers are with all of them.” Maybe Jay Cost is right that Huck’s calculating a show of loyalty to the Duggars will earn him an edge in Iowa, but like I said up top, his whole problem politically is that he’s perceived as an evangelical heartthrob with nothing else to commend him. The way this is going to come off to people who aren’t already part of his Christian conservative base is that he’s somehow more morally offended by two gay adults consensually tying the knot than his friends’ kid groping his little sisters in their sleep and then going on to stump for social conservatism as a spokesman for the FRC. It’s the opposite of what he should be doing to expand his support. Like I say: Mystifying.