Since the early 1990s when I, too, was involved in gubernatorial politics in the South, I've heard the name of Mike Huckabee. In the early days, in many of the circles I traveled, he was often dismissed as a way-right-winger Southern politician, and at the time, I was getting a fill of them on my own in Alabama. And so, I kept away from the Huckabee camp. There were too many Wingers locally to give me pause about being interested in one more several states away. In fact, in 1994 I dealt with a preacher who wanted to be governor in the primaries and having done the opp research on him and followed his inconsistent words throughout that journey, I really stayed away.
Then came the 2008 campaign where Huckabee ran for president. Some of the same fokes as in 1990 in Alabama were right there on the bandwagon. I was surprised, like the rest of the nation, when he won the Iowa Caucuses. After that, he basically went away and the race turned to Clinton, McCain and Obama.
But this past year, I've found a new-found interest in him. As you can read below, Sunday, I blogged about how good a read his "A Simple Christmas" is and how much I enjoyed his perspective on Silent Night and the true meanings of Christmas. And as I've done more and more talk radio listening this year, I've taken notice of his often colorful segments on The Huckabee Report and the interesting perspectives.
Then came the Sunday murders of the four police officers in Seattle. Maurice Clemmons, the now-deceased murderer, apparently received clemency for his 108-year sentence from Huckabee while he was governor in Arkansas. When I heard that, I knew what was to follow, and sure enough, Monday night, Mark Levin spent the first of his three hours on air ranting about the travesty of the murders and how the criminal justice system in America failed those four police officers and their families.
I got home about the time it sounded like he was going to take off on Huckabee, so if he did, I missed it, but I'm certain that it came. If Levin didn't say it, he certainly was thinking it.
Then leaving work yesterday, I heard Huckabee on Sean Hanity's radio show talking about how he had a recommendation from the parole board that he considered. He didn't actually let Clemmons out, that was a decision made a year later by the parole board–albeit Huckabee's actions enabled the parole board to let Clemmons out early.
This whole thing harkens back to the issues that many Southern governors were dealing with from the late 70s all through the 80s and into the 1990s–prison overcrowding. So many of them faced federal lawsuits and had monitors in place to oversee overcrowding and to ensure that it was being reduced in an effort to keep prisons safer, (yes, we have to keep murderers and rapists safe) and then they also had to face issues with state funding.
It was easy at the times beforehand to say in a stump speech that you were going to be tough on criminals and throw away the keys once they were locked up. It was another to figure out how to pay for it and to keep them in adequate space.
On Hanity, Huckabee was good at expressing his remorse to the families of the police officers. He said if he had the information in front of him and lacking like all of us the ability to look into the future, he'd have let Clemmons out again.
Betsy Hart in The Chicago Daily Observer wrote today that with the four police officers, Huckabee's chances at seeking the presidency may have died along with them. Sadly, in this day and age, that may be very true. It would not be much of a jump to esteem that the Democrats and even fellow Republican operatives will be busy doing all they can to further discredit Huckabee and former Gov. Sarah Palin, two people who clearly are the freshest faces in the GOP today. Count on seeing this as an ad, maybe a Swift Boat kind of ad, in some sort if Huckabee ever tries to run again.
From what I've learned about Huckabee this year, I like. He seems like a good solid man who has used the hardship experiences in his life as lessons and strength builders to endure whatever comes next in this life. The man was clearly upset by Clemmons' actions and his having had a distant role in what happened. And then, instead of hiding behind it or waiting for someone else to explain it for him, he came right out in front and talked about his role and did his best to explain his part in the process. Tell me you'd get that from many other of our politicians of the day. Because you won't.