The low road to high office

THE LOW ROAD TO HIGH OFFICE…. When I think back to the fight for the Republican presidential nomination last year, I tend to think of Mike Huckabee as a radical ideologue with a very pleasant veneer. I disagreed with him on practically every issue under the sun, but I seem to recall him being rather nice about his vacuous, far-right, vaguely-theocratic worldview.

I don’t recall him being such a hack.

Ex-AR Gov. Mike Huckabee has recorded an automated telephone call warning pro-lifers that Democrats and President Obama plan to eliminate all state and federal laws restricting abortion. The calls have been reported in Virginia and Washington State. The caller identification traces the origin of the recording to a Northern Virginia telephone number … used by FiSERV, Inc. an automated call center used by conservative groups. Huckabee’s statement refers to the Freedom of Choice Act, which President Obama has promised to sign into law, although it has not yet been introduced in the new Congress.

This comes just two weeks after Huckabee attacked the stimulus package as “anti-religious,” because of a provision that, it turned out, doesn’t exist.

Now he’s running robocalls attacking Democrats over legislation that hasn’t even been introduced? Amy Sullivan recently had a good item about the Freedom of Choice Act, which Huckabee may want to read.

A Freedom of Choice Act was introduced in the 108th and 110th Congresses (from 2003 to ’05 and ’07 to ’09, respectively) by Representative Jerold Nadler, a New York Democrat. It was developed at a time when the future of Roe was in doubt because it was unclear if George W. Bush would have the opportunity to appoint another justice to the Supreme Court. But FOCA had a hard time gaining traction — even under Democratic control of Congress, the bill not only was never voted on but never made it out of committee. And now abortion-rights advocates are breathing easier with Obama in the White House — so much so that when a coalition of 63 organizations sent the Administration its top 15 priorities for reproductive rights and health, FOCA did not even make the list.

Congressional Democrats have also been less than enthusiastic about the proposal. A spokesman for Nadler says that while he expects the legislation to be reintroduced, “it won’t be anytime soon.” Even if FOCA is reintroduced in the current Congress, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has indicated she has no intention of bringing it up for a vote. And even if she did, there are not enough votes in Congress to pass the bill.

So why is Huckabee bothering? Because he needs to find a way to stay relevant to far-right activists, and he’d like to scare them into taking his warnings seriously.

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation