“This Is a Time to Double Down”

I’ve been waiting to hear something on the Supreme Court’s refusal to overturn Circuit Court decisions favoring marriage equality from the famous “kingmaker” of the Iowa Christian Right, the FAMiLY Leader’s Bob Vander Plaats. Sure enough, here he is in a story from the L.A. Times‘ Maeve Reston:

“This is a time to double down,” Vander Plaats said after the Supreme Court decision. “Americans, and for sure Iowans, are fed up with the courts injecting themselves in making marriage law.”

That’s how you’d expect Vander Plaats to frame the issue, since his bread and butter since 2009 has been seeking to oust state judges that made Iowa an early marriage equality pioneer.

But who among the sophisticates seeking to represent the Republican Party nationally will pay any attention? Well, perhaps Ted Cruz, whose initial reaction to the action by the Supremes was bellowing rage, and maybe Bobby Jindal, who’s tried to stake a claim to superior Christian Right fidelity this year.

At this point, though, only one potential ’16er has really made a statement he just can’t easily take back, which is certainly one way of signaling a “double down:” the candidate Vander Plaats endorsed for president in 2008 (and who subsequently won the Iowa Caucuses), the Reverend Governor Huckabee:

In an interview with the American Family Association’s radio show, Huckabee said he was “utterly exasperated” with Republicans for failing to stand up for traditional marriage after the Supreme Court cleared the way for gay marriage in several states on Monday.

“[I]f the Republicans wanna lose guys like me, and a whole bunch of still God-fearing Bible-believing people, go ahead and just abdicate on this issue, and go ahead and say abortion doesn’t matter either,” he said.

“Because at that point, you lose me, I’m gone,” Huckabee continued. “I’ll become an independent, I’ll start finding people that have guts to stand. I’m tired of this.”

Now it’s not unusual for pols associated with the Christian Right to suggest their foot soldiers are going to get discouraged at being played for suckers by the Republican Establishment, and might stay home or stray. But Huck’s making a personal statement about his own threat to book if the GOP doesn’t conspicuously get back on the traditional marriage train. And he’s saying it via the homophobic obsessives of the AFA, who can be sure to broadcast it near and far.

You have to wonder if Huck’s in danger of disqualifying himself as a 2016 presidential candidate, a role in which he’ll be expected to routinely promise to endorse whoever winds up on the GOP ticket, even if it’s some defender of sodomites like Rob Portman. If he does run, though, it’s going to be real hard for anyone to outflank Huck on the cultural Right, and making that clear may have been why he issued his implied threat.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.