Mike Huckabee is a smooth-talking, fanatical country preacher who has learned to make himself likeable on camera but who spews all kinds of hateful nonsense when among like-minded devotees.
The dark side of Huckabee, the anti-science and anti-gay side of Huckabee, and the anti-Palestinian genocidal side of Huckabee, are all much more dangerous than the incompetent fool side of Huckabee, but the latter is pretty dangerous, too.
The incompetent fool side was on full display in his remarks, apparently provoked by the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, about the alleged threat of illegal Pakistani immigration into the United States. He actually thundered about 660 persons, claiming that the Pakistanis came right after Latinos in the ranks of illegals. He also seemed to think that building a wall around Mexico would keep out Pakistanis (the illegals among whom likely mostly just overstayed their visas and landed at LaGuardia).
He actually repeated his gaffe when questioned by reporters:
‘ “I am making the observation that we have more Pakistani illegals coming across our border than all other nationalities except those immediately south of the border,” he said, repeating the assertion he made to his audience earlier. “And in light of what is happening in Pakistan it ought to give us pause as to why are so many illegals coming across these borders.” ‘
There are an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the US. AP writes, “the Pew Hispanic Center said Mexicans make up 56 percent of illegal immigrants. An additional 22 percent come from other Latin American countries, mainly in Central America. About 13 percent are from Asia, and Europe and Canada combine for 6 percent.” Even among the 1.5 million or so illegals from Asia, Chinese, Filipinos, Koreans, Vietnamese and others predominate. Pakistanis must be a vanishingly small proportion. Why even bring them up? Is it possible that our country preacher is bigotted against Muslims?
Huckabee’s first response to Benazir’s assassination was to ask whether “martial law” would be “lifted.” Martial law had not been declared, rather a constitutionally permissible “state of emergency” had been declared by Musharraf. He lifted it some time before Huckabee’s remark.
Huckabee is a narrow-minded, bigotted and ignorant person, and I am quite sure that the American people have had enough of that sort of thing in the White House for a while. On the other hand, I certainly hope that he emerges as the Republican standard-bearer, because I think any Democratic candidate could make mincemeat of him once his bizarre views become public.
You contrast the absolute nonsensical drivel coming out of Huckabee’s mouth with the following interview of Hillary Clinton by Wolf Blitzer on CNN’s Situation Room on Friday, and Clinton’s mature experience and careful, knowledgeable phrasing are like a silk purse to Huckabee’s sow’s ear:
‘ Wolf Blitzer: There are conflicting reports coming in from the Pakistani government right now about the cause of death, who may have been responsible; perhaps al Qaeda, maybe not. The bottom line: do you trust the Pakistani government right now to conduct a fair and full investigation so that all of us around the world will know who killed this woman and how she was killed?
Hillary Clinton: I don’t think the Pakistani government at this time under President Musharraf has any credibility at all. They have disbanded an independent judiciary, they have oppressed a free press. Therefore, I’m calling for a full, independent, international investigation, perhaps along the lines of what the United Nations has been doing with respect to the assassination of Prime Minister Hariri in Lebanon. I think it is critically important that we get answers and really those are due first and foremost to the people of Pakistan, not only those who were supportive of Benazir Bhutto and her party, but every Pakistani because we cannot expect to move toward stability without some reckoning as to who was responsible for this assassination.
Therefore, I call on President Musharraf and the Pakistani government to realize that this is in the interests of Pakistan to understand whether or not it was al Qaeda or some other offshoot extremist group that is attempting to further destabilize and even overthrow the Pakistani government, or whether it came from within, either explicitly or implicitly, the security forces or the military in Pakistan. The thing I’ve not been able to understand, Wolf – I have met with President Musharraf, I obviously knew Benazir Bhutto and admired her leadership – is that President Musharraf, in every meeting I have had with him, the elites in Pakistan who still wield tremendous power plus the leadership of the military act as though they can destabilize Pakistan and retain their positions; their positions of privilege, their positions of authority. That is not the way it will work. I am really calling on them to recognize that the world deserves the answer; the Bhutto family deserves the answer, but this is in the best interest of the Pakistani people and the state of Pakistan.
Blitzer: Senator, just to be precise; you want a United Nations international tribunal, or commission of inquiry, whatever you want to call it, along the lines of the investigation into the assassination of Rafik Hariri?
HRC: There are other institutions that are international that have credibility, like INTERPOL and others. It doesn’t have to be the exact model of the Hariri investigation but it needs to be international, it needs to be independent, it needs to have credibility and nothing that would happen inside of Pakistan would. I’m reluctant to say it should be an American investigation where we send our law enforcement personnel, because I’m not sure that would have credibility for a different reason. So that’s why I’m calling for an independent international investigation.
Blitzer: This is a damning indictment of President Pervez Musharraf. Some are calling on him to step down, do you believe he should step down?
Clinton: What I believe is that he should meet certain conditions and quickly. We should immediately move to free and fair elections. Obviously, it’s going to take some time for Benazir Bhutto’s party to choose a successor. Nawaz Sharif has said that he won’t participate at this time. I believe again some kind of international support for free and fair elections in a timely manner would be incredibly important. If President Musharraf wishes to stand for election, then he should abide by the same rules that every other candidate will have to follow. We also want to see a resumption of the move toward an independent judiciary. I think that was a terrible mistake. This is an odd situation, Wolf. The people in the streets are wearing suits and ties, they are lawyers, they are professionals, they are the middle class of Pakistan, which really offers the very best hope for a stable, democratic country and that is in America’s interest, but more importantly, it is in the interest of the Pakistani people.
Blitzer: I think I understood what you were implying when you said a U.S. investigation probably wouldn’t have credibility for different reasons but explain to our viewers out there why you’re suggesting a U.S. investigation into the death of Benazir Bhutto probably wouldn’t have credibility either.
Clinton: I think it would politicize it at a time when what we want to do is, as much as possible, support the continuing move toward democracy. We need, frankly, an international tribunal to look into this where there can be a broad base of experts who are not aligned with any one country. Obviously I would certainly offer our expertise through the FBI and others to assist that tribunal. But I think it would be much better for it to be independent and impartial and be seen as that. Part of what our challenge here is, is to convince the Pakistani people themselves and particularly the business elite, the feudal elite, the military elite that they are going down a very dangerous path. That this path leads to their losing their positions, their authority, their obvious leadership now. Therefore we need to help them understand what is in their interest and that of course includes President Musharraf.
Blitzer: Over the years, since 9/11, the United States has provided the Pakistani military with some $10 billion. Will you as a United States Senator continue to vote for funding of these billions of dollars going to the Pakistani military?
Clinton: No, and I’m very pleased that finally the Congress began to put some conditions on the aid. I do not think that we should be giving the Musharraf government a blank check and that’s exactly what the Bush Administration has done. Even after Musharraf cracked down on the judiciary and the press and the pro-democracy movement in Pakistan, President Bush was saying he was a reliable ally. Well, I don’t think he’s a reliable ally when he undermines democracy and when he has failed to reign in the Al Qaeda Islamist elements in his own country.
So I think we do need to condition aid. I would do it differently. I would say, look, we want to know very specifically what accountability you’re going to offer to us for the military aid that we believe should be going in the fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban. The Department of Defense is equally unaccountable with the money that passes through them.
I’d like to see more of our aid shifted toward building civil society. I’ve been calling for this. I have legislation that is bi-partisan, Education for All that is particularly aimed — I’ve talked to President Musharraf about the necessity for us to raise the literacy rate, to reach out with health care and education that would help the Pakistani people to really concentrate on civil society.
We should be working with these rather heroic lawyers and others who are in the streets demanding democracy instead of giving the Bush blank check to President Musharraf and the military.
Blitzer: But aren’t you afraid, Senator, that as imperfect and as flawed as President Musharraf is, there’s a possibility whoever comes to replace him in this large Muslim country with a nuclear arsenal already, heavy al Qaeda presence, a resurgent Taliban – that the alternative could be even worse from the U.S. perspective?
Clinton: Of course. We all fear that and that’s why we need to take remedial action immediately. When I came back from my last meeting with President Musharraf in January of this year, I called the White House, I asked that they appoint an American envoy, a presidential envoy. I suggested that a retired military leader who could relate to President Musharraf on a one-to-one basis and could shuttle back and forth between President Musharraf and President Karzai because there were a lot of tensions.
And also perhaps serve as a kind of support to President Musharraf, military man to military man, about what it takes to really move toward democracy that President Musharraf in every conversation I’ve ever had with him has given lip-service to. But I don’t think the Bush Administration has frankly asked enough of President Musharraf, has provided the right kind of assistance, has given the support needed.
We have this difficult problem in the military. We have a lot of the senior leadership that we have relationships with, we don’t have those relationships for a lot of reasons with the junior leadership. I just think we have given a blank check under President Bush to President Musharraf and the results are frankly not in the interests of the United States, they are not in the interest of Pakistan and they are certainly not in the interest of the region. We should begin to try to have an ongoing process that includes India and Afghanistan. A lot of what you see happening in Pakistan is driven by the very strong concern coming out of the Pakistani government toward Afghanistan, toward India.
We have really had a hands-off approach. We have said, okay, fine, you be our partner in going after Al Qaeda, we’ll turn a blind eye to everything else. That has undermined our position. I believe Pakistan is in a weaker position to combat terrorism today then they were after 9/11, in large measure because of the failed policies of George Bush. ‘
Barack Obama objected to Clinton’s call for a UNO special inquiry, saying that “It is important to us to not give the idea that Pakistan is unable to handle its own affairs.” While Obama’s concern for Pakistani sovereignty is admirable, Clinton’s suggestion of a United Nations commission would, I think, be quite popular in Pakistan except in military circles. So it isn’t about national sovereignty. And it is certainly the case that the Pakistani public would be more likely to believe a UNO commission than it would to believe Pervez Musharraf on this issue.
John Edwards said much the same things as Clinton with less detail. But lets face it, she had actually been to Pakistan and her remarks show that having been First Lady really does count for foreign policy experience, since it allowed her to address this crisis with aplomb and perspicuity. Obama’s campaign came off looking tacky when it tried to suggest that Clinton’s Iraq vote somehow got Benazir killed.