Link It or It Never Happened: Lee Harris on Huckabee and “Attacking” Christian Fundamentalism

Filed under:Need a Good Editor?,Not Cool,Politics,Priorities,Religion — posted by Anwyn on December 18, 2007 @ 3:34 pm

First red flag: “…truths that need badly to be aired.” I think he meant to say “spleen that needs to be vented.”

Lee Harris tells a heart-tugging story about how what one’s raised with never quite leaves one, no matter how superstitious or ridiculous it is, and then, dissonantly, tries without links or examples to assert that attacks on Huckabee are just attacks on the intelligence and loyalty of the evangelicals supporting him.

Hey, Mr. Harris, I too was raised not to set anything down on top of a Bible and I too generally still avoid doing so. Recognizing that God will not poke me into the hottest part of the coalbed for it if it happens is good, but there’s no harm in remaining faithful to that respectful tradition. If one takes your example to its fullest extent, then you yourself are making the attack on evangelicals by suggesting that their support of Huckabee is a knee-jerk response to somebody who talks the talk. And are we seriously expected to believe Huckabee didn’t plan it that way?

Mr. Harris, you’re whining. If the attacks on Huckabee are “more and more” becoming an attack on “Christian fundamentalism,” link these attacks. And then explain to us how Huckabee inserting his faith into every issue is not a cynical use of it for political gain. And then tell us how attacking the candidate who namecalls on immigration, who lets criminals out of prison, who’s totally easygoing about raising taxes whenever the legislature wants, don’t ya know, is an attack on Christian fundamentalism. Also, explain how people inflating to presidential proportions the kind of “current of raising” you describe with so much seriousness and agitation is not open to the same charge of superstition that you labeled your own Bible-stacking reluctance as. If this guy uses the Bible to justify letting criminals free, it must be right. I must be able to trust him, right? That is taking a look at somebody who seems to be like oneself, using that likeness to cover a multitude of stupid decisions, and justifying it all behind a shield of faith while the candidate cackles and rolls around in a stack of poll numbers.

I’ve said it before: If you honestly believe that Huckabee’s policies and beliefs on illegal immigration (flipflop notwithstanding), convicted criminal clemency, and tax-and-spend are the right direction for the country, you are in the wrong party. Republican values historically, traditionally, and modernly speaking have no place in those policies. Go on and switch parties (win-win: GOP’s primary doesn’t get screwed up and Democrats suddenly find a multitude of pro-lifers in their midst), but don’t threaten to switch, like a little petty bully, by pretending that outrage over the fact that Huckabee dresses his ridiculous positions in the clothing of the GOP because his faith lends him to two of the most unstable planks in the platform is outrage at Christians, fundamental or otherwise. It is outrage at people who, whatever their reasons, including religious, see fit to attempt to saddle us with a nominee who will do many of the horrible things Democrats typically do to make America somewhat weaker, somewhat poorer, and somewhat less livable. And if those people insist on clothing their reasons in their faith, their faith will take some of the flak. It is inevitable. It is reality. Stop whining about it.

Via Hot Air.


  1. If the attacks on Huckabee are “more and more” becoming an attack on “Christian fundamentalism,” link these attacks.

    Let’s see, he was called a fascist today by Ron Paul.

    Here’s one example. The author is a Newsweek journalist.

    Here’s another from National Review.

    Here’s one from a blog admiring Paul’s handiwork.


    Comment by John — December 18, 2007 @ 4:37 pm

  2. 1. Ron Paul took an opportunity for some political mudslinging, clumsily tried to shrug off responsibility for doing so (“I don’t know whether that’s a fair assessment or not”…) I don’t consider Ron Paul to be playing with a full deck, in any case. And he was rebuked by the interviewer.

    2. Not one word about Huckabee in that piece.

    3. The National Review piece noted that he does not have a degree. Again, not an attack on Christianity through Huckabee.

    4. “He’s got a point” Well, it’s hard to argue with something that does not have any substance to it, but I will say that the stupid Sinclair Lewis quote aside, calling somebody a fascist is not the same as calling Christianity fascism.

    Lee Harris certainly seemed to be addressing his remarks to Republicans who are against Huckabee. None of your links support the idea that Republicans are attacking Christianity or Christians through Huckabee.

    And sorry for the delay in your comment’s appearance; my filters are set so that comments with multiple links are held for moderation since that’s how a lot of spammers work.

    Comment by Anwyn — December 18, 2007 @ 4:59 pm

  3. Harris is a smart and thoughtful man. I could write the same post you wrote about him about this very post. You are whining about Harris whining. Pot kettle black, pal.

    I’m not a Huckabee supporter but I do think Harris is on to something. Many people disagree about Huckabee’s policies but many others are criticizing him for his identity. For example, those who mocked his divinity degree from a rather obscure religious college weren’t criticizing his policies.

    I’m all for free speech. People can whine about Harris whining about people whining about Huckabee all day long. But Huckabee has generated support among millions of voters. Harris is right in that ridiculing Huckabee runs the very real risk of alienating those voters, people without whom the Republican party cannot win the presidency or many congressional races.

    In general it’s not wise to insult people whose support you need. But go ahead, mock Huckabee with his Bible-quotes, his doubts about evolution and his aw-shuck manner. You’ll have lots of fun waxing nostalgic about the good old days when Obama is President.

    Comment by Thomas the Wraith — December 18, 2007 @ 5:11 pm

  4. Link it. Find me a serious Republican pundit who is mocking him for his Christianity, rather than for his *using* his Christianity to justify every asinine policy project. Find me a Republican pundit who is mocking his degree rather than his *lack* of one (homework!).

    My point, and the point of many others completely unenamored of Huckabee, is that with “support” like this, who needs Democrats? You and Lee Harris keep saying Christians and Republicans like me “need” these people. Why, at this point? I don’t need people who support free-spending border-opening criminal-releasing candidates. I call those Democrats. And if they’re going to threaten to take away their “support” because they say they’re being mocked on the basis of their Christianity, they need to show exactly who is mocking them and how.

    Comment by Anwyn — December 18, 2007 @ 5:17 pm

  5. Sorry. I don’t have time to dig up all the links. Here’s Rich Lowry at the Corner making my point with a few links. You’re clever. I’m sure you can find more.

    As for need, do you really think Huckabee is as bad or worse than Edwards or Obama? really? Plus the coat-tails dragging god know who along for the ride. Really?

    Comment by Thomas the Wraith — December 18, 2007 @ 5:35 pm

  6. Harris is right in that ridiculing Huckabee runs the very real risk of alienating those voters, people without whom the Republican party cannot win the presidency or many congressional races.

    So far, I’ve seen very little “ridiculing” of Huckabee, only criticism of his record and his policy proposals, both of which make him unqualified to be president.

    When people like Harris make their threats, they ignore the fact that evangelicals need fiscal conservatives, national security conservatives, law and order conservatives and immigration-enforcement conservatives as well and those voters are feeling alienated by the inexplicable support for a liberal like Huckabee.

    Comment by Slublog — December 18, 2007 @ 5:43 pm

  7. Anwyn,

    Ron Paul, last I checked, is a Republican so you can’t say that none of my links support the idea that Republicans are attacking Christianity. At least one has.

    Article 2 doesn’t mention Huckabee by name but ends by saying “If we are not careful, as we bend to the winds of religiosity that have overwhelmed our political debate, the right to think could well be at stake in many trials to come. ” Do you really think this is meant to exclude Huckabee, the most religious candidate in the field?

    The National Review piece was snarky and dismissive but I’ll grant it’s an indirect slight.

    I think Charles Krauthammer’s pieces on Huckabee also seem driven as much be distaste for religion in politics as specific policy issues. I could highlight dozens of comments on conservative blogs that make the point (including several at HotAir).

    Limiting things to Republican definitely limits things. There are many more examples coming from the other side of the aisle. The Rolling Stone piece Allah mentioned is a perfect example.

    Comment by John — December 18, 2007 @ 5:51 pm

  8. The Rolling Stone piece Allah mentioned is a perfect example.

    Don’t you think Rolling Stone is pretty dismissive of all conservatives/religion in general, though? Their reflexive liberalism is one reason I haven’t bothered with that magazine for years.

    Doesn’t stop me from loving “Almost Famous,” though.

    Comment by Slublog — December 18, 2007 @ 5:56 pm

  9. Hi John, I meant to say “Republican pundits” and you’ll see that I did so in another comment. I don’t consider Ron Paul’s remark to be worth spit to either side of this debate. His remark was completely featherheaded even if you take the politicking out of it. He’s candidating and will say whatever comes to mind to besmirch another candidate. He did it terribly clumsily. And I’m not the one limiting it to Republicans–Lee Harris was clearly talking to other Republicans when he made his remarks.

    Thomas the Wraith, the point of my post is that if a person wants to complain about people attacking Christianity through Huckabee that person has to be willing to pony up the evidence. You can’t be bothered to get links except Lowry talking about the Lisa thing I already responded to and to both the Thompson campaign and the Weekly Standard saying that his divinity degree (or lack therof) doesn’t qualify him more to be president, which is entirely true and isn’t even a knock on his school on the face of it.

    Comment by Anwyn — December 18, 2007 @ 6:02 pm

  10. And also, Thomas the Wraith, I’m not talking about the general here. I haven’t said my opinion on whether Huckabee would be a better choice than Obama or Hillary or Edwards. (But I’ll throw in one for free–almost anybody would be better than Edwards, including Huckabee.) The issue here is why Republican primary voters are supporting Huckabee when so many of his policies are at odds with core conservative values and how other people are responding to their support of him. It’s not about the general. Yet.

    Comment by Anwyn — December 18, 2007 @ 6:06 pm

  11. And since several of you are repeat-commenting, could you do me a favor and tell me whether you are having to re-enter your name, email and URL every time? I’m having to do that and it’s my own stinkin’ blog. I don’t know what’s up with it–usually it remembers people’s info.

    Comment by Anwyn — December 18, 2007 @ 6:06 pm

  12. Slublog – A few thoughts. First, I question whether evangelicals ‘need’ those people you mentioned much if at all.

    Two, evangelicals are organized and mobilized in a way that the other groups you mentioned are not and never will be. What kind of fiscal conservative meets with several hundred other fiscal conservatives twice a week for two hours? Who goes to a private, national security high school? Who home-schools their 3 kids in law and order conservatism? Are there fiscal conservative radio stations in small towns all over the country? You get the idea.

    Third, there are tens of millions of evangelicals all over the nation. On both coasts. In cities big and small.

    Fourth, evangelicals are not single issue voters. They have a world-view and an identity as individuals and as groups that fiscal conservatives, immigration hawks, national security voters and the other you mentioned simple don’t have. People ARE evangelicals in a deep and profound way. Whereas people support fiscally conservative policies. The two are in no way comparable.

    The ridiculing of Huckabee as an evangelical, Biblical literalist is subtle but I can smell it. It’s a matter of perspective. I’m not an evangelical or a Huckabee supporter. But if I can smell it then you can be sure that evangelical voters can too.

    BTW – I don’t think Harris was making a threat. He doesn’t lead anyone or have any organization. I think he was making an analysis and a warning.

    Comment by Thomas the Wraith — December 18, 2007 @ 6:12 pm

  13. It’s remembering my info.

    Comment by Slublog — December 18, 2007 @ 6:12 pm

  14. Thomas – I am a Christian and while there are millions of us, there is no strong consensus on politics. In my 300-member church alone, there are pro-war Republicans and anti-war Democrats. There are those who believe national healthcare is necessary and those who disagree. What we have in common is our commitment to Christ.

    The reason I say that evangelical voters need the others, though, is pure mathematics. While evangelicals are a strong force, there are simply not enough of them to elect a president on their own.

    Comment by Slublog — December 18, 2007 @ 6:18 pm

  15. Anwyn – “The issue here is why Republican primary voters are supporting Huckabee when so many of his policies are at odds with core conservative values.”

    Well, I’ll take a stab at it. How about because it turns out that lots of evangelical voters aren’t all that conservative on other issues. Lots of evangelicals are suspicious of free-trade, for example. Lots probably wouldn’t mind higher taxes on wealthier people. Lots are probably skeptical of the so-called ‘freedom agenda.’ The Republican party ain’t monolithic after all.

    Comment by Thomas the Wraith — December 18, 2007 @ 6:26 pm

  16. Slublog – Well no, evangelicals can’t elect a president by themselves. (not yet). But if they switched parties the Dems would win by a landslide. Few if any other groups in the Republican party can say that. Of course this is unlikely to happen. But if many of the evangelicals stayed home the Republicans would be in trouble in several key states. Again, few other groups can say that, much less do it. They simple lack the organizational capacity.

    Comment by Thomas the Wraith — December 18, 2007 @ 6:34 pm

  17. A very nice retort, Anwyn.

    Comment by Dusty — December 18, 2007 @ 6:52 pm

  18. Arwyn,

    It’s remembering my info too. Seems to work fine, though I’d love it if you’d add some buttons for links and the like.

    So here’s a piece by a conservative, Republican slamming Huckabee (and Romney) for their faith. From the Weekly Standard. A sample:

    Is it not evangelical Christianity, rather, with its lack of hierarchical authority and discipline, constituted of individual charismatic preachers vying for the fickle attention of crowds, that is today most susceptible to the charge of cults of personality, at least living ones? And is its leading contender at this moment not one Huckabee of Little Rock, who enthralls the crowds with his musings that he is favored of Providence? Who is this Jesus of Nazareth that I should worship his servant Huckabee and offer him my vote?

    And here’s Ann Althouse referring to it as an “excellent piece.”

    I’ll grant that most of the treatment so far has been substantive, but Harris only said that things were turning in a bad direction. He didn’t claim we’d hit bottom yet, though I think Ron Paul puts us pretty close.


    When people like Harris make their threats…

    If you read what he wrote, his tone is almost the opposite. He’s saying “try to understand how this will come across.” The exact phrase he uses is “self-immolation.” In other words, he’s not threatening he’s saying please don’t commit suicide here guys.

    Comment by John — December 18, 2007 @ 8:19 pm

  19. Again, it seems to me that that is disapproval of the way Huckabee invokes his faith in the race, less than attacking the faith itself.

    Comment by Anwyn — December 18, 2007 @ 8:36 pm

  20. And thanks, Dusty. :)

    Comment by Anwyn — December 18, 2007 @ 9:45 pm

  21. From the same article:

    Yet the worship of sales and marketing is not exactly unknown among the numerous evangelicals who promiscuously deride Mormonism as some kind of weird, even dangerous, sect but who themselves gather weekly to–well, what? Sing their country-rockified, feel-good, self-help-book ballads, lovingly serviced with the Word of the Therapeutic God by blow-dried yet humble, down-home yet suburban preachers whose cavernous mega-churches resemble nothing so much as the Wal-Mart of the soul on sale.

    Is that generalized enough that you’ll concede Huckabee’s faith is being attacked by at least some people on the Republican side?

    Comment by John — December 18, 2007 @ 9:54 pm

  22. That’s pretty bad.

    Note what I say at the very end, though, and that is that if people are going to use Christianity as justification for voting for Huckabee, they needn’t be shocked and put out when Christianity comes under scrutiny as a motive for voting.

    I say it’s both not as widespread as Harris says it is and also not as unwarranted as he says, either.

    And back to my mantra, that if they have other reasons for voting for Huckabee, they’re clearly in the wrong party anyway.

    Comment by Anwyn — December 18, 2007 @ 10:07 pm

  23. What is going unsaid here, and that you may be unaware of, John, is that I’m also a Christian. I’m just frustrated in the extreme, not to say flabbergasted, to see people apparently ready to cast a primary vote based on that facet alone of the candidate. You want to talk about party suicide–that definitely seems the fastest way to it at this point.

    Glad to see on your blog we agree on Fred, however.

    Comment by Anwyn — December 18, 2007 @ 10:10 pm

  24. Well, I’m a Christian and I am very concerned about the attacks on Huckabee, and by extension, Christians.
    You’ll note that there is what, 17% of Americans who would not vote for an evangelical Christian? Can you guess the demographics of someone who would say that? Yes, I think that some are trying to paint Huckabee as “symbol of hatred” (notice some are comparing him to Pat Buchanan…then Howard Dean…then Ross Perot…then Jerry Falwell…then Pat Robertson)
    And that Huckabee is a Baptist I think is as much an issue with some people as Romney being a Mormon. I remember the first time I mentioned the southern Baptists to a well-educated Catholic doctor I know, and the first thing he thought of was ‘those who bomb churches in the South.’ (of course, the churches that were attacked in the South were *Baptist* churches).
    Sure, Christian-themed attacks on Huckabee are more common on leftwing sites (huffington post). And since many Romney supporters are Mormon, in the context of Huckabee-Romney, there are religious attacks on the Baptists online. So to be perfectly honest, there are many people who don’t want a Mormon as President, just as there are people who don’t want a Baptist.

    Comment by iowan — December 19, 2007 @ 1:28 am

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