It's becoming increasingly likely that Mike Huckabee is going to be the Republican nominee. The Evangelicals will take one of their own if they can have one, they can have Huckabee, so they aren't settling for a Mormon (Romney) or a vaguely secular type (Giuliani) or someone who only recently made friends with Jerry Falwell (McCain).
Today, Andrew Sullivan approvingly linked to a Mark Kleinman post declaring that one of the things Huckabee has going for him is that "he's not a hater or a lunatic or a fool."
I beg to differ.
Back when it looked like Romney might get the nomination, smart atheists like Brian Flemming were salivating over it as a chance to provoke more discussion about religious belief in this country.* Is Huckabee really all that much worse of a target, though? Sure, the lack of foreignness means its harder to get the ball rolling. But there's a guarantee that the conversation won't get bogged down on the mere foreignness of his beliefs, and we can get on to what really makes them crazy.
First, of course, is the evolution issue. The attack here is straightforward. If official Democratic party types want to put together something that will appeal to a mass audience, I'd suggest they start off with a good fossil line up, maybe a quick mention of DNA analysis, and then ask: If Huckabee can ignore such a well-established scientific fact, what other elements of reality will he succeed in ignoring? Do we want to be giving someone like that control of the most powerful military on Earth, including, let's not forget, a good-sized nuclear arsenal? Have we forgotten what happened the last time a president was willing to ignored reality [cue photo of newspaper with headline announcing no WMDs have been found in Iraq]? The task is made even easier by the fact that Huckabee is officially agnostic on whether the Earth is a year over 6,000, so throw in something like DefCon's Top 10 Reasons the Earth is not 6,000 years old. The dirty little secret of modern Creationists is that while they may find a lot of people who will tell poll takers they don't believe in evolution, once the public controversy gets serious they don't do so well. Dover voters eventually booted the creationists off their school board. Plenty of conservative pundits have quietly aligned themselves on a quasi-secular stance, and aren't going to be too serious about defending him. Heck, while the number of creationists among the current crop of GOP presidential candidates is depressing, they're still in a minority even among their own kind.
While the evolution angle would be an effective line of attack, it's nothing compared to the mileage that could be gotten out of the whole eternal damnation issue. An ideal set up would require some good dirt-digging ability, but here's a sample way of posing the question:
Rev. Huckabee, in 1998 the editor declared the fact that some Christians believe that non-Christians may go to heaven is a significant problem, and in fact an entire issue of the journal was dedicated to advocating this view. Do you agree or disagree?If Huckabee, in responding, lets slip that he believes all non-Christians are going to Hell, hand it to the Anti-Defamation League and the Council on American-Islamic Relations and let them run with it. Talk about again and again until they do. Underline it with stupid-but-necessary questions, like, "If only Christians are going to Heaven, does this mean that no religious Jews are going to heaven?" After that, Huckabee's gone. Even more so than with Creationism, the Evangelical doctrine of the Damnation of Everyone Who Disagrees With Us is something that may be widely preached when non-believers aren't listening, but which Evangelicals recognize on some level as being completely indefensible. Heck, these days you can't even get away with saying Jews would be somewhat better off as Christians (and I personally don't think the shitstorm over Ann Coulter saying that made any sense). Baiting Huckabee on this issue makes the evolution thing look like an insanely risky gambit by comparison.
Sadly, this is all just a fantasy, as it's very unlikely any Democrat will work up the backbone to do that. Unless... does anyone know if there are any chances left for average people to pose questions to candidates for the debates?
*and I'm not sure who Kleinman's alleged hypocrites, mentioned at the bottom of his post, are.