Mike Huckabee, who emerged as the true social conservative in a crowded GOP field, as predicted, is closing his Iowa campaign with — surprise! — an appeal on abortion.
The television ad is as dishonest as it is predictable. In it, Huckabee links abortion to the founding of our nation by suggesting that "all of us are created equal," even the unborn. Without saying it in the ad explicitly, the linkage suggests a strictly constructionist interpretation of the U.S. Constitution that life begins at conception "as our founders intended", thus putting contraception in jeopardy. He goes so far as to say "the pro-life position was espoused by our founding fathers."
To Huckabee, all "of us" are created equal isn't the inclusive phrase Jefferson intended. In a Huckabee world view all persons have "intrinsic value" …
- except women who are prohibited from controlling their own private health care decisions in a world where abortion, even for medically necessary reasons, is illegal.
- except teenagers and parents seeking an educational system that teaches facts, not ideology, when it comes to sexuality education so children can protect themselves and make informed and wise decisions.
- except gay Americans who seek the right to be accepted by their families of origin, supported by an educational system that recognizes their intrinsic worth, seek and retain employment, be able to serve their country, marry and adopt to create and protect families of their own.
Huckabee even plays the Christian victim card in the ad by saying "Maybe instead of having our values trampled every single day …" As a Christian, this argument always strikes me as the most ludicrous, because the GOP accuses liberals of "playing victim" on almost every issue. In one breath, social conservatives suggest trampling on the rights of religious freedom by imposing their narrow interpretation of values on all of us and project their victim mentality onto the majority of Americans who dare to believe differently.
In Mike Huckabee's Constitution, all of us are not created equal.
Mustang Bobby at Shakesville calls Huckabee "coy" about the dog-whistling ads he is running, calling the base home with coded (and not so) ads.
The last minute abortion appeal has been a staple of social conservative candidates for more than a generation. While I have written admiringly of Huckabee's political rise in Iowa, once people heard him talk about international policy they realized he could never be President. He's been sliding since, but because Iowa's GOP caucus goers are overwhelmingly socially conservative, he will do well there, and perhaps South Carolina, before fading from serious contention.
A party desperate for a winner realizes Huckabee doesn't live up to the hype — and is once again forced to realize that neither does the socially conservative agenda that has won them power for the past generation. In this day and age, even most social conservatives realize voting on single issues like abortion and gay rights no longer makes sense.
Americans recognize that issues of reproductive health and privacy involve far more than just abortion. Voters know intuitively that the best way to reduce unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease is to educate and prevent, based on facts and public health policies, not ideology and prohibition.
The social conservative base of the GOP has pulled the party too far right and Americans look at purist right wing candidates and reject them (Allen, Brownback, Tancredo, Hunter, and soon Huckabee). John McCain, as many polls and pundits predict, is the beneficiary.
Until the GOP realizes that it's not just the weak social conservative candidates they have advanced, but the rejection of the socially conservative agenda itself, they will be a party divided, and out of power.