Just when it seemed the discourse in the Trump-hijacked Republican primary could go no lower, Gov. Mike Huckabee managed to further cheapen the 2016 presidential campaign.
Commenting on President Barack Obama’s agreement with the Iranian government to limit that nation’s nuclear weapon production capability, the Arkansas conservative claimed the deal, if ratified, would send Israel “to the door of the oven.”
The remark, over the top by any measure, unleashed a news cycle’s worth of outrage. Obama called Huckabee’s claim “ridiculous” and “sad.”
By reducing a serious national issue to the level of a drunken tweet, Huckabee won the spotlight.
But it was just the latest in a long, unseemly litany of bids for attention among the many, many Republican candidates for the White House. Donald Trump’s insults to immigrants have set the bar, but when a politician as serious as Sen. Lindsey Graham is reduced to putting his cellphone into a blender to make headlines, something is wrong.
Huckabee’s retort to the president was to dig in, saying “what’s ridiculous and sad is that President Obama does not take Iran’s repeated threats seriously. ... ‘Never again’ will be the policy of my administration, and I will stand with our ally Israel to prevent the terrorists in Tehran from achieving their own stated goal of another Holocaust.”
Had Huckabee given the agreement even a cursory read, he would have known that the president’s plan does just that. The deal calls for a lengthy moratorium on Iran’s nuclear centrifuge production, with inspection and verification by the International Atomic Energy Agency should evidence suggest the Iranian government is reneging.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton called Huckabee’s comments “offensive.” The National Jewish Democratic Council, the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Anti-Defamation League also took issue.
But by reducing a serious national issue to the level of a drunken tweet, Huckabee won the spotlight. GOP primary voters and the American people deserve more respect – and smarter dialogue.