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Character Makes a Difference
Where I'm From, Where I've Been, and What I Believe, by Mike Huckabee
(Click for Amazon book review)
BOOK REVIEW by OnTheIssues.org:
If you feel like you've missed one too many Sundays at church, this book is for you. Gov. Mike Huckabee, a former pastor, preaches the Gospel (literally) in this ostensibly political book.
Huckabee bashes "moral relativism," by which he means it's a bad idea for people to define what's right and what's wrong. God should define right and wrong, via the Bible and the Ten Commandments and so on. Those definitions should not change based on the idiosyncrasies of one society or another, or one time or another.
Although I have not associated moral absolutism with a negative definition of human nature before, Huckabee does associate them. He feels that humans are self-centered at their core, and in order to be good, humans need God, or to fear consequences. Huckabee feels that the basic problem with liberalism is that liberals mistakenly think humans are good at their core. So much for theology -- now on to public policy based on it....
Huckabee is entirely open about mixing church and state -- calling for prayer in public schools, legislating morality, and publicly posting the Ten Commandments. Most disconcertingly, Huckabee openly calls for supporting political "candidates who share your Christian standards." And he does not mean Jews or Muslims or Mormons who happen to share standards that coincide with Christian standards -- he suggests that in choosing our leaders we "support and uplift fellow Christians as we work together to build God's kingdom."
Indeed, the title of the book, "Character Makes a Difference," unambiguously defines "character" as "Christian character." So one might re-title this book "Christianity Makes a Difference," which would sound very theocratic indeed. But the policy prescriptions in this book ARE theocracy -- so I don't see any reason to hedge on that point.
Huckabee's candidacy is far from the first time a strong Christian has sought the presidency. Jimmy Carter was open about his religion and about the religious basis for his public policy; and when asked who was his favorite philosopher, George W. Bush cited Jesus Christ. But neither Carter nor Bush call for legislating morality -- they separate their religion from their public policy. Huckabee does not.
I'd like to ask Huckabee about some of the finer points of his theocracy, such as: "Do you consider Mormonism a form of Christianity, and if not, would you advocate for NOT supporting Mitt Romney for president since he is not a Christian? Or what about Michael Bloomberg or Joe Lieberman, both Jewish?" Then applying his own philosophy internationally, "Do you support theocracy in Iran? The elected leaders of Iran DO have prayer in public schools, DO legislate morality, and DO publicly post the Ten Commandments, and even enforce them. What's the difference?"
Of course, Huckabee won't be asked that kind of question, because Huckabee is not a frontrunner, and it's unlikely that any member of the mainstream press would read this book anyway. But Huckabee also describes in this book how he was once the frontrunner for the US Senate, and reveled in the possibility of being the first Republican Senator from Arkansas. That's likely in the future for Gov. Huckabee -- perhaps we'll get to ask him then.
This book also provides a detailed history of the downfall of Jim Guy Tucker, who was convicted of a felony while Governor. Huckabee ascended from Lt. Governor (the two seats are elected separately in Arkansas, so their parties differed) after a last-minute drama of Tucker refusing to resign and Huckabee threatening impeachment. Huckabee has nothing but disdain for Tucker, on grounds that Tucker lacks integrity -- for which Huckabee provides numerous examples! Tucker's predecessor, Bill Clinton, is described in much more understanding terms by Huckabee -- focusing on Clinton's foibles as human weaknesses rather than lack of integrity.
Having Huckabee in the presidential race will certainly keep things lively. One hopes he will point out when the other candidates fail to live up to his standards of integrity. He DOES have a lot of integrity himself -- and he IS consistent in applying it. So have at 'em, Mike!
-- Jesse Gordon, jesse@OnTheIssues.org, June 2007
Where I'm From, Where I've Been, and What I Believe, by Mike Huckabee.