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August 14, 2007

Huckabee's Making Sense

You know, I was about to do a post on Huckabee's smart and humane position on the drug war, which Roberto Rivera mentioned in comments. Problem was, when I went to search for the whole quote, it turned out that the top result was, well, me, as I'd posted on it months ago.

[Huckabee] has refused to take the predictable path by talking tough on crime to deflect the DuMond criticism. Instead, he campaigns on a compassionate approach to wrongdoers, especially those whose crimes are the result of drug or alcohol addiction. At Philly's Finest, he condemned the "revenge-based corrections system," sounding every bit the sort of squishy liberal that the Bill O'Reillys of the world long ago scared into the shadows. "We lock up a lot of people we are mad at rather than the ones we are really afraid of," he said. "We incarcerate more people than anybody on earth." As governor, Huckabee pushed for drug treatment instead of incarceration for non-violent offenders. He pushed for faith-based prison programs, and was critical of governors who "gladly pull the switch" on death penalty cases, an apparent knock on President Bush, who was criticized as governor of Texas for being cavalier about capital punishment.

According to Rivera, he also calls the "three-strikes" law "the dumbest piece of public-policy legislation in a long time" and argues that "We don't have a massive crime problem; we have a massive drug problem. And you don't treat that by locking drug addicts up." Its good enough rhetoric to post twice.

August 14, 2007 | Permalink

Comments

Maybe President Obama can appoint Huckabee drug czar, though I'm a bit worried about the faith-based prison programs.

Posted by: KCinDC | Aug 14, 2007 3:25:01 PM

Yeah, the problem here is that Huckabee's solution to our massive drug problem is teh Jesus.

Posted by: DJA | Aug 14, 2007 3:57:29 PM

Alan Keyes is also Making Sense. I pray everyday that he enters the race.

Posted by: john | Aug 14, 2007 4:10:50 PM

faith-based prison programs

Um ... we have that right now: people have faith that locking up a whole buncha people will make us all safer. What we need are "evidence-based prison programs", do we not?

Oh, he means religion-based prison programs? Well ... I wonder how people'll respond if any of that money goes to, e.g., Muslim groups? And if it doesn't, isn't that kinda unfair?

Posted by: DAS | Aug 14, 2007 4:15:19 PM

Not to mention the money that would go to Scientologist and Moonie groups, and probably a host of scam religions set up to get on the gravy train.

Posted by: KCinDC | Aug 14, 2007 4:25:24 PM

There are already successful faith-based programs in prisons. Is that a problem?

Posted by: Sanpete | Aug 14, 2007 4:34:37 PM

The problem, Sanpete, is where to draw the line, and the dangers to religion of receiving government funding. Putting government in the position of deciding which religions are acceptable and which aren't, and which aspects of a religious program are acceptable and which aren't, is a bad idea, but it's necessary if religious programs are going to receive government money.

And money has gone to Scientology and Moonie groups. Do you think that's a good idea?

Posted by: KCinDC | Aug 14, 2007 4:52:49 PM

Sanpete, would you care to name them? Some random guy preaching to some other random guy and getting him to convert doesn't count. For one, it's not a church/state program. And for 2, a Christian rapist is no better than a Islamic or Atheist one. It's only conceit that makes people think otherwise.

Posted by: soullite | Aug 14, 2007 5:01:17 PM

Did I mention that Huckabee isn't going to be their nominee? Things like this are mostly the reason why. It will be Mitt Romney, and I'd bet just about anything on that.

Posted by: soullite | Aug 14, 2007 5:02:14 PM

To the extent that Huckabee's comments make sense, they'll doom his chances at the nomination.

Posted by: Henderstock | Aug 14, 2007 5:05:59 PM

...insofar as he had any in the first place.

Posted by: Henderstock | Aug 14, 2007 5:08:01 PM

To the extent that Huckabee's comments make sense, they'll doom his chances at the nomination.

Posted by: Henderstock | Aug 14, 2007 5:08:48 PM

To the extent that Huckabee's comments make sense, they'll doom his chances at the nomination.

Posted by: Henderstock | Aug 14, 2007 5:09:24 PM

To the extent that Huckabee's comments make sense, they'll doom his chances at the nomination.

Posted by: Henderstock | Aug 14, 2007 5:09:44 PM

And money has gone to Scientology and Moonie groups. Do you think that's a good idea?

If they can show the programs work, let Satan run them. The Supreme Court has already drawn the line clearly enough. The purpose must be secular, and it can't amount to a promotion of a particular religion.

Soullite, I hear about the programs from time to time but don't recall the names. The point isn't to convert a rapist to Christianity or any other religion. It's typically more like AA, with individual beliefs, even atheist belief in a higher power in oneself, being keyed on. Some prison programs are more explicitly religious, but I don't know if those receive funding.

Posted by: Sanpete | Aug 14, 2007 5:24:16 PM

Sanpete, I'm not so blasé about having my tax money go into Satan's pocket, nor so confident that programs like Narconon work. Also, if the program truly is secular and doesn't promote a particular religion, then the government is stifling the religious expression of the people running the program, which is what I mean about "damage to religion" (but I find it hard to believe that the programs are actually meeting those criteria anyway). I generally agree with this piece and the sentiments Pat Robertson expressed before he started taking the money.

Posted by: KCinDC | Aug 14, 2007 5:56:07 PM

The fact that there is a path to a slippery slope is not a reason to reject an action. Why? Because there is always the path to a slippery slope.

Also if people want to join groups that allow them to find jesus let them. Sanpete is right in noting that rehabilitation is the most important aspect of faith based programs. Oh and that silly thing called people are free to worship whomever they want.

If prisons start forcing people to become Christians then call me and I'll argue that those specfic programs need to be scrapped. Until then its a silly complaint.

Also, i'd imagine that a program that forces you to join a particular religion is probably not very effective.

Posted by: Phil | Aug 14, 2007 5:57:38 PM

I think Huckabee is on to something here, we as tax payers have to pay for millions of drug addicts to be put in jail. When they are let out they just go back to drugs and then crime. Wouldn't it be cheaper to try and help them the first time they enter the system instead of throwing them back on the streets to re offend..This Huckabee dude has some rad ideas. If he ran today he would get my vote. I really like him.

Posted by: Lou | Aug 14, 2007 6:43:19 PM

Well, you might kinda notice that we have had AA around for a long time, and it hasn't worked. We've got over 40 million alcoholics and tens of thousands of drunk driver fatalities and victims each year.

It doesn't matter if you can find some guy who swears up and down that AA worked for him- that's why drug tests are done with placebos and double-blind precautions- because you can always find some guy who swears it worked for him.

Then, of course, there's the old classic- "curing" the marijuana addiction, which oughta be easy enough, considering marijuana isn't actually addictive. Gee, what happens when a 'faith-based' cure runs into a Rastafarian?

Sure, if someone wants to run a prison ministry at no cost to the state, that might arguably be a 'freedom of religion' issue, although nobody seems to have any qualms about denying inmates the right to vote or read the books and magazines of their choice. Nor do many of these 'prison ministries' show up denouncing inhumane conditions of incarceration (in our overcrowded county jail the prisoners sleep on a concrete floor), the omnipresent rape in our prisons, or the use of prison labor at 70 cents an hour to make private businesses profitable.

In an even more basic sense, you might say, hey, we're already a Christian nation- if that stuff worked, we wouldn't have the largest prison population in the world.

Sheesh, it's like some people have learned nothing from the last six years.

Posted by: serial catowner | Aug 14, 2007 6:44:46 PM

KC, if the programs don't work they shouldn't be funded, whether religious or not. The government doesn't stifle religion in requiring for funding a secular purpose and no promotion of a particular religion. Groups are free to work in prisons without government funding on a voluntary basis. Those groups that don't want the money don't have to meet the conditions.

Don't worry about money going into Satan's pocket. It's already the root of all evil ...

Catowner, AA was never intended to eradicate alcoholism, only to help those who desperately wanted help. And it's among the most effective programs for that. Don't know why you think otherwise. I see no reason in what you say not to allow prisoners to participate in it and other programs, as long as they help. Your criteria for what works don't seem very useful.

Posted by: Sanpete | Aug 14, 2007 7:02:58 PM

There's a lot of gray between choosing and being forced, especially when you're talking about prisoners.

And I wasn't talking about a slippery slope to bad things happening in the future. I was talking about things that have already happened.

I agree with this: "if people want to join groups that allow them to find jesus let them." My disagreement is with the government's funding the groups and thus either (1) interfering with the groups' religious expression by forcing them to remain secular in their communications or (2) promoting a particular religion using taxpayer dollars.

Posted by: KCinDC | Aug 14, 2007 7:10:39 PM

There is a different between free association and government sponsorship. I don't care if they let priests into jails to talk to inmates who have requested their guidance. So long as they accept any ordained holy men of any faith, I doubt many people object to it. But allowing some groups space and funding, and not allowing others, is immoral. There is no reason to subsidize these people anyway, their churches should do that, or in the case of the less organized religions, they should be willing to spend their free time doing it. They are priests, after all. That should mean something.

Posted by: soullite | Aug 14, 2007 8:48:25 PM

"We don't have a massive crime problem; we have a massive drug problem."

I agree Huckabee is one of the less crazy (or less craven and odious) Republicans running for his party's nomination. But I have to beg to differ with his statement above. In fact we do have a massive crime problem -- a massive violent crime problem.

While it is true that much of the crime in the US rather predictably flows from narcotics prohibition, it is equally true that plenty of other rich democracies likewise prohibit drugs. As far as I know none of them even approaches America's uniquely blood-soaked level of violent crime.

So, while, like lots of people I favor a substantial degree of decriminalization -- and I also think we ought to approach the drug problem as the public health issue it is (rather than as a crime issue), the fact is a wrong-headed policy vis a vis narcotics is not an excuse to settle for developing world levels of murder and mayhem. Unless of course you're running for president.

Posted by: Jasper | Aug 14, 2007 9:23:37 PM

Huckabee is running the same campaign on the right that Edwards is on the left, only less awesome. (Predictably so; he's a Republican and therefore there's a fairly low ceiling to how good an elected official or human being he can be.)

I'd say with assurance that he'd be the running mate of Rudy/Mitt/Fred, but there's going to be real pressure on the GOP to choose someone who isn't a white male this year. Then again, the prominent women and African-Americans in today's GOP make their presidential field look like champions.

Posted by: Mike B. | Aug 14, 2007 10:00:24 PM

Ezra you and David Sirota are on to something today. While I was aware of what Huckabee said on Hardball regarding CEO pay I was not aware of the point you bring up. I am also aware that the Club for Growth is trying to swiftboat his candidacy. That actually drew my attention towards him. Unfortunately, this kind of talk is the reason why he has had trouble raising money as a GOP candidate.

Posted by: jncam | Aug 14, 2007 11:24:59 PM

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