Saturday, December 08, 2007

Compassionate Conservatism at Work

Politicians have personae, just like stand-up comedians. And though these personae sometimes resemble their true personalities (for example, George W. Bush is really a doofus who thinks he's a cowboy and Lewis Black most likely has some real-life anger issues), the two are still quite different. It's an extremely simple concept to grasp. Giving a political speech is a lot like acting or doing comedy; you're using words, gestures and body language to make people feel a certain way. You're manipulating them. If you didn't want to sway people to your line of thinking, you wouldn't be giving that speech.

Duh. Yet I feel like Americans continue to discuss political performances as if they were 100% truthful, the best and only indication of how a politician really feels.

Like, for example, Fred Thompson, who pretends to be a folksy, grandfatherly type from down South, but who is actually a wealthy corporate lobbyist and Hollywood actor.

But the one that's really irking me these days is Mike Huckabee. Sure, he's attempting to project a simple, straight-forward, compassionate persona. That's his tactic, and I'd say that he's calculated well. Coming out of four years of George "Deciderer" Bush and Dick "Fuck Yourself" Cheney, Americans are desperate for a little bit of warmth. Someone who's going to talk to us, not talk down to us.

But that doesn't mean he's actually a nice person or that he gives a shit about anyone or anything. You know what's a really reliable indication of whether or not someone is nice? Looking at the things they have already done in their lives. Past behavior's far more telling than rhetoric, even if that rhetoric is being delivered by Chuck Norris is a slightly-amusing viral video form.

So how did Mike Huckabee respond in 1992 when asked about how to deal with the AIDS crisis?

In 1992, Huckabee wrote, ''If the federal government is truly serious about doing something with the AIDS virus, we need to take steps that would isolate the carriers of this plague.''

"It is difficult to understand the public policy towards AIDS. It is the first time in the history of civilization in which the carriers of a genuine plague have not been isolated from the general population, and in which this deadly disease for which there is no cure is being treated as a civil rights issue instead of the true health crisis it represents."
"In light of the extraordinary funds already being given for AIDS research, it does not seem that additional federal spending can be justified," Huckabee wrote. "An alternative would be to request that multimillionaire celebrities, such as Elizabeth Taylor, Madonna and others who are pushing for more AIDS funding be encouraged to give out of their own personal treasuries increased amounts for AIDS research."


The AIDS answer is always a telling one, because it was VERY politically convenient for shitbags to play on the ignorance and intolerance of homophobes before anyone knew that much about the disease.

Of course, this was already 1992, not 1982. Magic had told everyone he had HIV at this point.

Actually, this story gets even worse. Here's Huckabee, this week, responding to questions about his ludicrous 1992 statements:

At a news conference in Asheville, N.C., on Saturday, Huckabee said he wanted at the time to follow traditional medical practices used for dealing with tuberculosis and other infectious diseases.

''Medical protocol typically says that if you have a disease for which there is no cure, and you are uncertain about the transmission of it, then the first thing you do is that you quarantine or isolate carriers,'' Huckabee said.

And there you have it. It was well understood by non-rubes at this point that you could not get AIDS just by standing near an infected individual, so the tuberculosis comparison makes zero practical sense. And he made that comparison on Saturday. That's fucking today!

This New York Times article is pretty great, in that it goes beyond recording what Huckabee said and actually reports the veracity of this information. By which I mean, call him out on his bullshit. Still, I doubt something like this will dramatically impact Huckabee's narrative, which is that he's the charming, funny, warm underdog who just wants what's best for America and loves Jesus just a bit more than you do. Say, 4%.

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