Mike Huckabee’s Middle East miscue

In a Sunday morning interview, the cheerful conservative muffs an easy foreign-policy exam.

Topics: 2008 Elections, Mike Huckabee, Middle East,

In stylistic terms, Mike Huckabee remains one of the most beguiling conservatives to brighten the national stage in this dispiriting political decade. During a Sunday morning interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, the former Arkansas governor explained the devil-may-care philosophy behind his now-famous ad featuring Chuck Norris. (My Roadie companion Michael Scherer blogged about the spot.)

“I think one of the problems in American politics is that the people who run take themselves way too seriously,” Huckabee said at the end of the CNN interview. “We need to take the issues seriously, but we also need to realize that the greatest thing about America is we’re still a nation where our freedom gives us the opportunity to wake up, even laugh at ourselves and our politicians and not be shot for it.”

If only Huckabee had a grasp of foreign policy to match his monopoly on puckishness. Instead, his answers to basic questions about the latest Israeli-Palestinian peace talks were troubling in their cheerful know-nothing-ness. Huckabee displayed his roots as a Baptist minister when he said with shaky historical grasp, “This conflict isn’t new. It has been going on since all the way to the time of Abraham.”

You Might Also Like

What was even more startling was when Huckabee appeared to reject long-standing Clinton-Bush policy and oppose a Palestinian state that would include portions of the West Bank. “It would be very problematic for Israel to give up the West Bank, from their own standpoint of security,” Huckabee said. Instead, the surging Republican long shot suggested, “there are a lot of options that involve other territory that doesn’t have to include the West Bank or the Golan Heights. There is an enormous amount of land in Arab control all over the Middle East.” Left unclear amid this prattle about an “enormous amount of land in Arab control” was whether Huckabee was nominating the Sunni Triangle in Iraq as the new Palestinian homeland.

Most of the major Republican presidential candidates, like waterboarding fan Rudy Giuliani, seem to be taking their foreign-policy advice from the White Queen in “Through the Looking Glass,” who bragged, “Sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” Huckabee seemed different. But that was before the fear began to sink in that Chuck Norris might be Mike Huckabee’s only foreign-policy advisor.

Walter Shapiro is Salon's Washington bureau chief. A complete listing of his articles is here.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 13
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    DAYA  
    Young Daya has yet to become entirely jaded, but she has the character's trademark skeptical pout down pat. And with a piece-of-work mother like Aleida -- who oscillates between jealousy and scorn for her creatively gifted daughter, chucking out the artwork she brings home from summer camp -- who can blame her?

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    MORELLO   
    With her marriage to prison penpal Vince Muccio, Lorna finally got to wear the white veil she has fantasized about since childhood (even if it was made of toilet paper).

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CINDY   
    Cindy's embrace of Judaism makes sense when we see her childhood, lived under the fist of a terrifying father who preached a fire-and-brimstone version of Christianity. As she put it: "I was raised in a church where I was told to believe and pray. And if I was bad, I’d go to hell."

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CAPUTO   
    Joey Caputo has always tried to be a good guy, whether it's offering to fight a disabled wrestler at a high school wrestling event or giving up his musical ambitions to raise another man's child. But trying to be a nice guy never exactly worked out for him -- which might explain why he decides to take the selfish route in the Season 3 finale.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    BOO   
    In one of the season's more moving flashbacks, we see a young Boo -- who rejected the traditional trappings of femininity from a young age -- clashing with her mother over what to wear. Later, she makes the decision not to visit her mother on her deathbed if it means pretending to be something she's not. As she puts it, "I refuse to be invisible, Daddy. Not for you, not for Mom, not for anybody.”

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    SOSO
    We still don't know what landed Brooke Soso in the slammer, but a late-season flashback suggests that some seriously overbearing parenting may have been the impetus for her downward spiral.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    POUSSEY
    We already know a little about Poussey's relationship with her military father, but this season we saw a softer side of the spunky fan-favorite, who still pines for the loving mom that she lost too young.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    PENNSATUCKY
    Pennsatucky had something of a redemption arc this season, and glimpses of her childhood only serve to increase viewer sympathy for the character, whose mother forced her to chug Mountain Dew outside the Social Security Administration office and stripped her of her sexual agency before she was even old enough to comprehend it.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CHANG
    This season, we got an intense look at the teenage life of one of Litchfield's most isolated and underexplored inmates. Rebuffed and scorned by her suitor at an arranged marriage, the young Chinese immigrant stored up a grudge, and ultimately exacted a merciless revenge.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    HEALY
    It's difficult to sympathize with the racist, misogynist CO Sam Healy, but the snippets we get of his childhood -- raised by a mentally ill mother, vomited on by a homeless man he mistakes for Jesus when he runs to the church for help -- certainly help us understand him better.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    NORMA
    This season, we learned a lot about one of Litchfield's biggest enigmas, as we saw the roots of Norma's silence (a childhood stutter) and the reason for her incarceration (killing the oppressive cult leader she followed for decades).

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    NICKI
    While Nicki's mother certainly isn't entirely to blame for her daughter's struggles with addiction, an early childhood flashback -- of an adorable young Nicki being rebuffed on Mother's Day -- certainly helps us understand the roots of Nicki's scarred psyche.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>