Huckabee draws fire for comments about women, libidos and conservative Nazis

 
Mike Huckabee speaks on stage in Nashville on November 22, 2013. Former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee was an equal opportunity offender on Thursday

When a Republican talks about women and sex, it's usually not good news for his political career (See Akin, Todd and Mourdock, Richard, for instance). And if, in the same speech, he mentions Nazis and the Holocaust when discussing grass-roots conservatives, well, it may be time to draft the political obituaries.

Such was the case on Thursday, when former Arkansas Governor and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee spoke to a Republican leadership conference.

First, about the Democrats, government, women and their libidos. Here's his full quote:

If the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government, then so be it, let's take that discussion all across America because women are far more than Democrats have made them to be.

The initial media firestorm was based on a misquote of what Mr Huckabee said. Several news correspondents, such as CNN's Dana Bash, said that it was Mr Huckabee who thought women couldn't control their sex drives.

Start Quote

Women, you see, are not human beings with agency and volition about their sexuality in Huckabee Land”

End Quote Michael Tomasky The Daily Beast

Although the record was later corrected, that didn't stop the story from going viral - and conservatives were quick to cry foul.

The day after, discussion now focuses on what Mr Huckabee actually said, and the controversy has yet to subside.

"Women, you see, are not human beings with agency and volition about their sexuality in Huckabee Land," writes Michael Tomasky for the Daily Beast. "They're nothing more than the cat's paws of the godless, baby-killing Democrats, who want to keep them on the Democratic plantation. The Pill, the welfare check, the Earned Income Tax Credit - all the work of Satan, propagated by the party of Satan."

The Washington Post's Alexandra Petri sees Mr Huckabee's mistake as typical of Republicans who don't know how to communicate with women: "Every single problem the GOP has had with women and messaging comes down the fact that they keep addressing women as though they are not in the room."

Some commentators have enjoyed watching Mr Huckabee's remarks attract national attention, as they feel Democrats can gain a political advantage.

"Media liberals aren't wringing their hands so much as begging Huckabee to explain, in great detail, how respect for women is contingent on believing that women have enough control over their libidos to have no need for contraception," writes Amanda Marcotte for Slate. "If he can get roomfuls of Republicans to applaud him wildly for sneering at birth control, so much the better."

Marcotte also noted that Mr Huckabee once supported mandating free contraceptive coverage when he was the governor of Arkansas.

John Hayward of Human Events counters that Mr Huckabee was correctly identifying what he sees as the condescending way that Democrats treat women: "The entire passage is his firm statement that he thinks women are 'smart, educated, intelligent, and capable,' and he's advising the Republican Party - an important organ of which he was addressing - to treat them as such."

Several conservative writers have pointed to a series of advertisements for health care reform in Colorado that emphases the availability of free contraceptives and includes the lines: "OMG, he's hot! Let's hope he's as easy to get as this birth control."

With that in mind, writes the Weekly Standard's John McCormack, "Huckabee's description seems spot on."

Mr Huckabee issued a statement defending his speech: "My remarks to the RNC [Republican National Committee] today were immediately jumped on and blown sky high by hand-wringing, card carrying liberals from coast to coast, some of them in the media."

If he was trying to rally conservatives to his defence, however, his efforts have been less than effective.

"There really is nothing gained by casually insulting - to no particularly good outcome - large swaths of the American electorate," writes the blogger Ace on Ace of Spades HQ (in a post that has been removed since but can be viewed here). "Now you can insult liberals and Democrats all day long. They're not voting your way, obviously. But 'women' or 'single women' are not all Democratic. Many are, but a fair number aren't. Nothing - nothing - positive is gained by tossing out a casual insult to the group."

Start Quote

The differences between conservatives and the Republican establishment are not merely tactical”

End Quote Erick Erickson RedState

Now, about those Nazis. Mr Huckabee said Republicans should back away from attacking members of their own party for being less than ideologically pure. He illustrated his point by making a comparison with the Holocaust, which is almost never a good idea when you're trying to win someone over to your side:

It all started when people were devalued, when people were deemed 'less than someone else. 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.

Erick Erickson of RedState took issue. "The differences between conservatives and the Republican establishment are not merely tactical. The differences are fundamental to the direction of the federal government over the next few years," he wrote. "In telling Republicans they should stop using words like RINOs [Republicans in name only] and challenging the Republicans who helped get us to $17 trillion in national debt, Huckabee is upping the ante on the name calling front."

Some have speculated that Mr Huckabee made his remarks as a prelude to another run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. Becoming the target of liberal ire is one way to rally the conservative base to your side, particularly after Mr Huckabee's past support for anathema issues like immigration reform and the implementation of federal education standards. Angering the type of conservatives who vote in Republican presidential primaries in droves in the same speech, however, is a great way to crash and burn.

As conservative columnist Michelle Malkin tweeted: "Mike Huckabee is still a Nanny State goof who needs to go away."

 

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  • rate this
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    Comment number 72.

    I was just reporting what the lady told me. Okay, I need a trip to the UK, and to catch a cold whilst I'm there.
    My own insurance is the best. I usually don't even need a referral for specialists.
    This thread's comments made me realize I should put in a bit of work this weekend. There are a lot of people's birth control to pay for, plus I'm fighting to stay on this side of the gap.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 71.

    #58 marieinaustin - be careful about getting your information from strange men in elevators! One datapoint is never the way to draw a reasonable conclusion on any matter. FYI, I happen to do the reverse of your elevator friend - i bring back OTC medications from the UK which are unavailable here unless you visit your doctor and get a prescription.

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    Comment number 70.

    67. A Rick Santorum (one of the most rabid of the pro life zealots) backer made just that suggestion/recollection on MSNBC to a stunned Andrea Mitchell: http://www.examiner.com/article/santorum-backer-suggests-aspirin-between-knees-as-birth-control-device-video These tiresome Neanderthals never, never quit!

  • rate this
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    Comment number 69.

    Mr. Huckabee would be better off telling men to control their libidos not women.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 68.

    #58 Marie... that story suggests you've never been to the UK (do visit, it's lovely). They have drugstores and pharmacies - just like every other country - where you can buy all your basics OTC. In fact, you can buy things OTC for mild ailments, for a few pounds, that you'd have to pay hundreds to see a doctor and get a prescription for in the US, which may surprise you.

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    Comment number 67.

    And if someone told a GOP candidate that putting an aspirin between a woman's knees was a contraceptive, he would try to ban aspirin.

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    Comment number 66.

    @marieinaustin also, over the counter meds? Guess what, we get our meds from our GP with no charge.

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    Comment number 65.

    Trillion dollar deficits, unemployment, school shootings - real issues. And we get this from mr Huckabee, a former Presidential candidate? Can't you people in the rest of the world see that we're all on the same page here in the U.S.A.? And somehow you either want to emigrate here or blow us up? Should you be afraid of us? Just read the above column, albeit a bit of "yellow press" from Mr Zurcher.

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    Comment number 64.

    Huck - "Becoming the target of liberal ire is one way to rally the conservative base to your side,.." Obama needs to make single payer the 2014 election issue! At 17% of GDP, US health care offers the poorest outcomes and value, and 78 million boomers are transitioning to Medicare! Single payer (Medicare for all) could reduce health care costs to 11% of GDP permitting a balanced budget in 3 years!

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    Comment number 63.

    ... "because they cannot control their libido" ... So, WHERE do I find these women?

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    Comment number 62.

    @marieinaustin it is clear you know nothing about the UK NHS - the government assigns a doctor? News to me. You CHOOSE your doctors here. No charge.

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    Comment number 61.

    Huckabee is a dope and a redneck but other than that I like him.

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    Comment number 60.

    58. yet more misinformation on NHS style health care - family doc's are there to cover the-basics and for referrals to specialists! Canadian health care is about the best of the US and 3 NHS type health care systems I've experienced: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/matt-miller-canadians-dont-understand-ted-cruzs-health-care-battle/2013/09/25/ee2d6e6e-25d9-11e3-b75d-5b7f66349852_story.html

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    Comment number 59.

    Glad to see that the BBC is broadcasting "kook of the week" spectaculars like we constantly get over here in the U.S.A. There is something about the BBC that renders journalism some sort of honourable profession. On our CNN, etc., it's just one kook after another, or, at least, that's the way we like to portray them. People will always have their opinions, and they will change like the weather.

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    Comment number 58.

    Last week I rode a hotel elevator w a British businesswoman w a sackful of basic OTC meds. She said British bring meds back in their check-in luggage all the time, bc their Nanny State won't let them in the med cabinet. She also said the govt assigns a doctor. After wasting time, waiting for appt & giving the first doctor a try, you can then choose a second. Is that what you dems really want?

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    Comment number 57.

    Bye bye, Huckabee. Your time has come and gone, now leave before you embarrass us further.

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    Comment number 56.

    Amused by people talking about the "Liberal" Media. Most media, especially in the US are controlled by conservative corporate ideals and agendas. These people spend the majority of their time attacking anything that is good for the middle class and poor while defending their rich masters, just look at FOX News in America...."fair and balanced" it is NOT.

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    Comment number 55.

    Harvey: As for Mr. Huckabee and some others in politics, they should all remember that what they say can affect their place or standings

    The problem was not what Mr Huckabee said

    The problem is that the media did not tell viewers what he actually said

    When media changes peoples' words around, its not actually those peoples' words, its the medias' words

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    Comment number 54.

    BBC News Thank you for your way of publishing the news, as it is fresh and different from the way the news is from Canada or the USA. I always enjoy logging on and reading this web site whenever I have the time.
    As for Mr. Huckabee and some others in politics, they should all remember that what they say can affect their place or standings. It also shows who they are, smart or dumb and dumber.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 53.

    Is there a point to all this? We don't have dialogs about issues anymore. We just duke it out in the media while they rake in the cash from advertising. Nothing will ever get solved this way. I care more about what Huckabee *does* than what he *says*. Personally I think making birth control freely available helps everyone. So what if it's the government doling it out? It's a good investment.

 

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