04 March 2011
Huckabee: Dumber than Oscars?
Perhaps believing that he can reach the White House by playing the national scold, former governor Huckabee of Arkansas has now turned his rhetorical guns on newly-minted Oscar winner Natalie Portman. Talking to fellow scold Michael Medved on the radio, Huckabee deplored the actress's unrepentant embrace of premarital pregnancy, arguing that she made a poor role model for the mostly "poor [and] uneducated" women who become single mothers. He no doubt went on to blame Portman's conduct on her pampered un-American upbringing on the planet Naboo, but I was more intrigued by his bald acknowledgment that government assistance was the only thing keeping most single mothers and their children from sickness and starvation. We know that Huckabee opposes mandatory health insurance, since he's made commercials touting an online petition in favor of repealing "Obamacare." We may infer that he prefers less government assistance for the poor in general. Should we make a further inference that he would impose moral discipline by limiting government aid to poor single mothers -- after all, many of his likely constituents believe that it's the certainty of aid, not the example set by celebrities, that encourages unwed motherhood -- or can we assume that he'd take steps to reduce premarital pregnancy before reducing the aid available to unwed mothers? That might be too wonkish a question for the moment, since no clarification of his views can undo the damage Huckabee has probably again done himself. The Republican rank-and-file, we are often told, resent people telling other people how to live, yet here is Huckabee making a big show of chiding the attractive star of a popular film (imagine his review of Black Swan!) who publicly avowed her love for the father of her unborn child on national television. Most people who watched the Oscar show probably found that a touching, romantic moment if they had an opinion about it at all. Not only is Huckabee unlikely to have changed their minds; he has more likely only confirmed his already fairly firm image as a prig. His current book tour is his test of the waters for a 2012 presidential run. He may as well be standing in the middle of a desert.