At a breakfast meeting with reporters from the Christian Science Monitor, Huckabee decried journalists’ focus on his religious background, saying: “There has been an attempt to ghettoize me for a very small part of my biography. The last time I was in the pulpit was 1991.”
Huckabee is right, in that the press has focused a great deal on his faith.
But Huckabee is wrong, in that journalists have only done what he encouraged them to do. He brought this on himself, and journalists are right to scrutinize his religious views. In fact, they should be doing so even more.
Even as his hopes of winning the nomination have dimmed, Huckabee has kept the faith. Last weekend he told the Conservative Political Action Conference that “I didn’t major in math, I majored in miracles, and I still believe in them.” The real miracle is that after using "the God strategy" with such zeal, Huckabee still feels comfortable chastising the press for focusing on his faith.
The only thing for which journalists are guilty in this case is not digging deep enough. They’ve paid plenty of attention to the novelty of Huckabee’s heavy emphasis on religion. What they need to do now is get serious about what a Huckabee presidency or vice presidency — now or down the road — would mean for American democracy.
And what of Huckabee’s avowed skepticism regarding evolution? How does that translate into how he’d approach funding for the sciences and education in general? The current president has been slow to embrace concerns about global warming, and critics have charged the Bush administration with modifying scientific conclusions regarding environmental standards on everything from greenhouse gases to chemicals in drinking water. Where would Huckabee fall on these matters?
These are all fair questions — crucial questions — to ask of Huckabee or any other candidate who would use faith as a political weapon.
If Huckabee is serious about leading the nation he needs to answer these questions, not avoid or criticize them. And he needs to understand that any scrutiny he draws from journalists is merely him reaping what he has so eagerly sown.