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Tilting at Windmills

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May 5, 2011

HUCKABEE EQUATES NATIONAL DEBT WITH HOLOCAUST, BRISTLES AT CRITICISM.... Over the weekend, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) raised a few eyebrows when she drew a parallel between the Holocaust and the U.S. national debt. The same evening, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) delivered the keynote address to a National Rifle Association gathering, and made nearly an identical argument.

[Huckabee] offered an anecdote that seemingly compared silence in the face of mounting debt in modern America to those who said nothing about the rise of the Nazis.

He recalled a family trip years ago to a Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem. He said he was comforted when his young daughter, at the end of the tour, wrote unbidden in the guest book: "Why didn't anybody do something?"

"Let there never be a time in this country when some father has to look over his daughter's shoulder and see her ask the haunting question, 'why didn't somebody do something?'" he said.

As a substantive matter, this is deeply crazy. That Huckabee actually believes this nonsense is a reminder that, beneath the folksy demeanor, the guy is a deeply troubling ideologue.

But what was especially interesting about this story was what happened next.

The Anti-Defamation League's Abraham Foxman was not at all pleased at Huckabee equating the Holocaust and the national debt, and chastised the former governor for his remarks. Michelle Goldberg reports that Huckabee didn't take the criticism well.

After all he's done for Israel, Mike Huckabee does not appreciate being criticized for comparing American debt to the Holocaust. Thus on Tuesday, when the Anti-Defamation League's Abraham Foxman chastised him for doing just that, he responded with anger and a hint of menace, saying, "Israel and Jewish people need to make friends, not insult the ones they have." Such words are unlikely to convince many Jews that Huckabee is their ally.

Worse, Huckabee then asked for Abe Foxman to retract the criticism and apologize to Huckabee for daring to question his remarks.

It's a fascinating perspective -- the former governor believes he's a friend of Israel, which effectively gives him free rein to say what he pleases, even if that means equating the Holocaust to our national debt.

Even for Huckabee, this is ridiculous.

Update: Adding insult to injury, the estimable Steve Kornacki reminds me that Huckabee has likened the Holocaust to the debt before, including at a campaign event in 2007.

Steve Benen 10:45 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (43)

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why didn't somebody do something?

Exactly what I expect young people to be asking when they find out about the congress elected in 2010 in the face of the staggering unemployment which caused the budget the Repugs pretend to be so upset about.

Posted by: ManOutOfTime on May 5, 2011 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

"which effectively gives him free rein to say what he pleases"

So, you are saying that Huckabee is a Republican. Kind of redundant, don't you think!

Posted by: Mark-NC on May 5, 2011 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

Like many, MANY, Christians, the Huckster has a special place in his heart for "The Holyland", but doesn't particularly like the current inhabitants.
(not the Palestinians; the other guys- the ones who killed Christ)

Posted by: DAY on May 5, 2011 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

Again, such sloppy rhetoric, working a bridge too far for the decent among us, Huckabee and anyone else who dares to insult and injure history and the innocents who were destroyed during this nightmare time by equivocating it to made up stuff (debt crisis) for political gain needs not be asked back to the table of civil discourse! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on May 5, 2011 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

Sounds like a typical bigot, using the 'holocaust' to cover over his real religious prejudices. His reactions are a clue.

Posted by: jjm on May 5, 2011 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

"Why didn't anybody do anything?"

They did. And even rich people made sacrifices to do it.

Posted by: beejeez on May 5, 2011 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

"Even for Huckabee, this is ridiculous."

No, actually for Huckabee, this is par for the course.

I've actually been impressed that Huckabee has been able to keep his typical thin-skinned petty responses to criticism, small or large, real or perceived, this much under wraps. People who saw him in action in Arkansas will just look at this and say, "oh, the REAL Huckabee is back."

After the horrific middle-school shooting in Jonesboro when he was governor, he rushed to press with a book called "When Kids Kill" (local wags dubbed it "When Kids Kill Dogs" but there's another story to that) and used his title as governor in promoting it. So you've got a governor using a tragedy in his state for profit. When questioned if he would be donated any of the proceeds to the victims' fund, he had a response similar to the one in this case: how dare anyone question his integrity, he needed the money because he had kids to get through college, and no he wasn't going to donate any of it because it was all HIS.

When he was questioned about his clearly illegal acceptance of hundreds of thousands of dollars of "gifts" as governor, it was an example of "being attacked because (he was) a Christian."

He always put family members on whatever third-party payroll he could access, so his wife drew a salary in pretty much all his campaigns. When a political opponent pointed out that this wasn't kosher, Huckabee cut and run an ad where he whined on and on about how his opponent was "attacking (my) wife."

Trust me. This is nothing new. This is the real Huckabee. If you had to sum the man up in one word, that word would be: petty.

Posted by: Jennifer on May 5, 2011 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

Huck's only a friend of Israel because he needs them for when Christ comes down to play Risk.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on May 5, 2011 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

Huckabee = savage, idiotic ideologue.

He should no more be a national figure than I should. Although, I'll maintain I'd be a lot more responsible than he would ever be.

Posted by: LL on May 5, 2011 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

Huckabee is an evangelical Christian. Let no one forget why evangelical Christians love Israel. They love Israel because in their beliefs, after Israel is once again under Jewish rule, Christ will have a Second Coming during Apocolyptic End Times. In that second coming, there will be a complete and total annihilation of Israel and only those Jews who accept Jesus Christ as their savior and lord will escape through Rapture along with the evangelical Christians.

In my mind, those are not Israel's friends.

Posted by: kindness on May 5, 2011 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

OK, first word would be "petty," but the second and third would be "obnoxious paternalism."

Typical of 3rd rate ministers--he sees himself as quite magnanimous for tolerating those beneath him. In this case, it's Jews, who should be grateful for his fatherly benevolence and never question his wisdom.

Usually, it's women who are the beneficiaries of this attitude. Guys like Huckabee will swear up and down that they can't be misogynists because they just LOVE women (just like he's such a good friend to Jews); what they mean is they love to tell women how to live their lives and how they should respect men like--Huckabee.

Of course, as a good father/minister he has to reprimand those who question his wisdom and his plans for them--but rest assured that it's all out of love.

Posted by: Lolly on May 5, 2011 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

Whoever it is that maintains Huckabee's genial image in the media should get a prize of some sort-- like a Nobel Prize in Dishonesty. He's not a nice person. Not, not, not a nice person

Posted by: MattF on May 5, 2011 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK


That is interesting. I hadn't heard any of those stories. Always suspected there was less than meets the eye to him, though, and he would collapse like a souffle in a 2012 primary.

Posted by: winner on May 5, 2011 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

Beneath that mild folksy exterior lies a black heart and a cruel huckster.

Posted by: j on May 5, 2011 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

I think if you equate the Holocaust to Pol Pot's killing fields nobody would be offended. If you equated the Holocaust to Stalin's mass starvation of millions of Ukranians nobody would be offended. But equating it to the American debt? Come on, how can Huck not think people are going to be offended.

The funny thing is that both Huck and Bachmann came out with just about the same comparison within hours of each other. Were they reading the same conservative think tank source material. Inquiring minds want to know.

Posted by: Ron Byers on May 5, 2011 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

Exactly what his children and especially his grandchildren will be saying about global warming. Why didn't you do something when you knew it was going to happen?

If we have the severe weather and impacts on food supplies we have now with an increase in the average temperature of only one degree F, what will the storms, floods, heat waves, droughts, shortages etc be like when we have warmed another 2 or 3 degrees in the next few decades? And then there is sea level rise, glacial melting, species extinction and the rest coming toward the end of the century, when today's youth will still be alive.

Posted by: Mimikatz on May 5, 2011 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

Life imitates art. Huckabee is 'Larry "Lonesome" Rhodes' with his microphone constantly open.

Posted by: berttheclock on May 5, 2011 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

Okay, Jessica. You've had your time to play. Now go and take your meds like a good girl.

Posted by: Nothing but the Ruth on May 5, 2011 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, honestly. Can anyone name one thing that Huckaboner has ever done for Israel?

Posted by: Dr. Squid on May 5, 2011 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

He was just following Sarah Palin's lead.

Normally, that's sound strategy.

Somebody find me a fork... I think I'll need it soon for Hucky.

More interestingly, I can think back to when the debt hit 10 trillion and ask that same question: "Why didn't anyone do anything?"

Now that we have a recession demanding a little Keynesian boost 14 trillion is catastrophic? Take a hike, sir.

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on May 5, 2011 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

I guess, then, Pete, if you hate high gas prices and paying taxes on them, you're foursquare behind hiking government investments in alternative transportation infrastructure and green technologies, to be paid for via increases in income and wealth taxes.

With ya all the way, buddy.

Posted by: beejeez on May 5, 2011 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

Why are you blaming Obama for high gas prices Jessica. He has been trying to foster alternative energy since before he was elected.

Anyway, I don't have much sympathy for people who bitch about high gas prices anymore. Hybrids have been on the market a long, long time and gas electrics are coming on line (thanks for saving GM Barack.) If don't want to drive a gas hog SUV you don't have to drive a gas hog.

Posted by: Ron Byers on May 5, 2011 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

'As a substantive matter, this is deeply crazy'...no it's not. Hucklebee and his ilk are full of themselves. They are unAmerican, unPatriotic, bigoted aholes that believe SOMEHOW they reached a position in life that makes it mandatory for people to bow to them...Democracy??? It makes you wonder why they still live in America.

Posted by: SYSPROG on May 5, 2011 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

"Why didn't anybody do anything?"

They did. And even rich people made sacrifices to do it.
Posted by: beejeez

Why some rich people sacrificed even the small bit of ethics that coursed through them . Because to profit is to exist . Creating handsome returns funding the murder machine , to kill those who the Nazis had deemed "up" for for slaughter .

Jennifer , thanks for that . That was an educational , if unpleasant trip , into the Wild Wild Huckabee Show .

I profit therefore I am
The hell you say
Sold , next !

Jessica Shut Up , thank you ...

Posted by: FRP on May 5, 2011 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

Not only is he a thin-skinned, opportunistic asshole, he's a liar. Hey, Huckleberries -- how about that lap-band surgery you had and then pretended the weight loss was due to dieting and exercise and thus, "anyone" could do it.

Posted by: RT on May 5, 2011 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

The fundie support for Israel always has been a bit cynical at its base. They are basically evangelists who really don't understand the experience of people who aren't part of their flock.

Posted by: Rich on May 5, 2011 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

Gee, I hope there's a recording somewhere of him saying "Some of my best friends are Jews."

Posted by: martin on May 5, 2011 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, I haven't even scratched the tip of the iceberg w/r/t Huckabee. Among his other greatest hits: installing a secret back staircase so he could sneak in and out of the office without having to brush shoulders with the inky wretches in the press, or the public. Billing taxpayers (illegally) for his family's Velveeta & pizza tabs while he was governor. Freeing not one, but two murderers so they could kill again, based on his Jesus-y "gut feelings", then blaming the parole board he had appointed and leaned on to release both. Encouraging his wife to run for Secretary of State while he was governor, then having her use state vehicles and state police escorts for her campaigning (he billed taxpayers for his own campaign expenses as well). How venal is the man? Here's how venal: when I was chair of the state's Common Cause chapter, I was approached by a Republican legislator asking for CC's support of a measure to make political party expenditures reportable - this because the non-Huckabee faction of the party knew there were all kinds of kickback schemes going on, but in the absence of any law requiring reporting, couldn't make Huckabee come clean on what was being spent and how.

When your fellow Republicans are complaining about you being a crook, that's pretty bad. That's who the real Huckabee is.

Posted by: Jennifer on May 5, 2011 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

I dislike Bachmann and Huckabee as much as the next liberal, but really, this oversensitivity about Holocaust references is a bit silly. Neither Bachmann nor Huckabee were suggesting that the debt problem is comparable to the Holocaust; they were merely making a point about people needing to stand up and speak out about a serious problem. It's not, perhaps, the best of analogies, but let's stop with the fake horrified reaction. I doubt that many of us are genuinely outraged by these analogies; they create a pretext for critizing those whose politics we dislike.

All of us should be able to publicly draw lessons from events like the Holocaust, World War II, Nazi Germany, the rise of Hitler, etc. History is useful in helping us understand the present and, perhaps, avoid some of the problems of the past.

Posted by: DRF on May 5, 2011 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

That Huckabee actually believes this nonsense is a reminder that, beneath the folksy demeanor, the guy is a deeply troubling ideologue.

Nope, he's just your usual Southern Baptist moron. The kind of guy Garrison Keillor was thinking of when he advised that you take two Baptists with you when you go fishing - "if you just take one, he'll drink all the beer, but if you take two, they won't drink any."

As to Huckabee's "friendship" with Israel, with friends like the fundies, Israel doesn't need any enemies. These guys are only interested in Israel so they can have 144,000 Jews renounce Judaism and proclaim Jesus the Messiah during the Second Coming, while the rest of the Jews are thrown into the pit of fire.

But it's always to have one of these folksy fundamentalist scum rip off the mask and let us see the true gargoyle residing within.

Posted by: TCinLA on May 5, 2011 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

The Huckster wants to be president, and yet more New Hampshire voters approve of Donald Trump than they do of him. Of course he's cranky .

Posted by: JW on May 5, 2011 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

Who's Jessica, who's Pete? Were their posts deleted?

Posted by: whichwitch on May 5, 2011 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

Then, he and his daughter got in the pandermobile, drove to the panderport and flew in the panderplane all the way home..

"Why didn't somebody pander?"

Posted by: Trollop on May 5, 2011 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

"Israel and Jewish people need to make friends, not insult the ones they have."

Wow, looks like someone didn't have their coffee, cigarettes, and prozac.

Shorter Huckabee:

"Listen you greedy, money-grubing decendant of the murderer of our lord and savior, just consider yourself lucky that the good, GOD fearin' Christians of this country don't let the Moooslems burn your country to the ground and sow it with salt."

OK, that's longer Huckabee, but you get my point.

Posted by: Winkandanod on May 5, 2011 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

Posted by: whichwitch on May 5, 2011 at 12:33 PM

"Who's Jessica, who's Pete? Were their posts deleted?"

Jessica and Pete are right wing trolls, and like all right wing trolls, their posts were deleted. And if you know what's good for you, you'll stop asking questions.

Posted by: Mr R on May 5, 2011 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

Posted by: beejeez on May 5, 2011 at 11:39 AM

"I guess, then, Pete, if you hate high gas prices and paying taxes on them, you're foursquare behind hiking government investments in alternative transportation infrastructure and green technologies, to be paid for via increases in income and wealth taxes."

I wish people would stop replying to these right wing trolls. We don't need to worry about the price of gas, we have windmills and solar panels, and these idiots will never understand that. Sheesh.

Posted by: GreenEnergyGuru on May 5, 2011 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

Hey Huckleberry-when the national debt lines YOUR great-aunts, -uncles and cousins in front of a ditch and shoots them, you can make that analogy. Until then, STFU!

Posted by: Werewolf on May 5, 2011 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

It's laughable for either of them to try to say, as they both did, that they "never intended to make any direct comparison between today’s issues and the Holocaust."

That is pure and utter nonsense. They said it and they intended to say it.

I thought we already had a national dialogue parsing the meaning of "is." Perhaps Bachmann and Huckabee were on vacation during the Clinton years?

Posted by: karen marie on May 5, 2011 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

It's noteworthy that in the 2008 presidential election, Huckabee was a staunch advocate for a national sales tax, the FairTax, to replace the income taxes--a proposal that would likely bankrupt us.

Posted by: Chris on May 5, 2011 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

@Mr R - excuse me! no need to get your panties in a wad...I'm a regular reader and sometime poster so it was just hard to understand who commenters were referring to - I'm not a mindreader.

Posted by: whichwitch on May 5, 2011 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

The holocast was about a people being demonized and labeled as such by the masses because the nazi government repeated it until it became a mantra and the whole population bought into it. It made it easier to condemn those people and make it a crime to even look or talk like them and more of a crime to associate with them. Kinda like what the repubs are doing to dems and anyone not a repub.

Posted by: Schtick on May 5, 2011 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with DRF. I'm no Huckabee fan, but I don't think he was equating the debt situation with the Holocaust. Rather, he was saying that one of the lessons learned from the Holocaust is that, if we address a problem early on, it does not explode into something beyond our control.

If we can only invoke the Holocaust as an analogy for situations that are equally horrific, then, let's be honest, we can (almost) never reference the Holocaust. And, by extension, we can never invoke the lessons learned from it. So, as a result, we never learn from it.

Posted by: philolson on May 5, 2011 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

So Hucklebee, do you have a great relationship with "The Jews" or not?

I hope the moderators aren't deleting Al. I enjoy his stupidity.

Posted by: ComradeAnon on May 5, 2011 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK
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