I’ve changed my mind on Huckabee

People say that Huckabee is not a fiscal conservative. I’m not so sure he is a social conservative, either:

Mr. Huckabee’s record of being soft on convicted criminals is harder to avoid. His role as an ordained Southern Baptist minister appears to have guided his actions when it came to forgiving criminals.

I would not deny that my sense of the reality of redemption is a factor,” Mr. Huckabee told KUAR in Little Rock in 2001. “I don’t know that I can apologize for that because I would hate to think of the kind of human I would be if I thought people were beyond forgiveness.

On average, Mr. Huckabee granted clemency once every four days.

In a remark quoted by the Associated Press, one prosecutor, Robert Herzfeld, said in 2004 after challenging Mr. Huckabee’s decision to let a prisoner loose before his sentence was completed: “It seems to be true at least anecdotally that if a minister is involved, he seems likely to grant clemency.”

The most notorious case of Mr. Huckabee’s penchant for forgiveness is his decision to release Wayne DuMond, the rapist of a teenage cheerleader who was castrated by a mob before being awarded a life sentence and a further 20 years in prison.

Mr. Huckabee, who questioned DuMond’s guilt and was in favor of his early release, denies the suggestion of two parole board officers that he pressured them to free DuMond. After his release on parole, DuMond moved to Kansas City and smothered to death a Missouri woman.

Also among Mr. Huckabee’s many contentious acts of absolution is that concerning James Maxwell, the killer of a pastor of the Church of God in Arkansas, who was working at the governor’s mansion in Little Rock when his prison sentence was reduced. Mr. Huckabee also pardoned Robert Arnold, who had killed his father-in-law. Arnold’s father was a friend of Mr. Huckabee, according to AP. Denver Witham, who beat a man to death with a lead pipe, also had his life sentence commuted by Mr. Huckabee.

According to the Nashua Telegraph, during his first eight years in office, Mr. Huckabee pardoned or commuted the sentences of 669 criminals, including 11 murderers.

I believe in forgiveness and redemption, too, but I also believe in the old addage that “if you do the crime you’ve gotta do the time.” I don’t believe in pardons except for what the person granting them believes to be wrongful convictions. The government has no business forgiving rightfully convicted criminals. I’m afraid I can no longer root for Huckabee.

For [the governing authority] is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. (Rom. 13:4)

I might also add that I am more than a little concerned that his desire to show mercy to people who are a threat to society (murderers) would extend to those who are a threat to the nation (terrorists and rogue regimes), especially given comments of his like, “The U.S. should not kill Saddam Hussein or anyone else.” (Given in response to a questionnaire from the AP) That’s a pretty broad statement, and I think it’s likely that he meant it very broadly.

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15 Responses to “I’ve changed my mind on Huckabee”

  1. ThirstyJon says:

    Hey Casey!

    Is that the only issue you have with Huckabee? What do you know about the individual cases?

    I personally don’t believe that “forgiveness” is the place of the State. Governors or Presidents should be granting pardons when an injustice has been done. (Wrongful Conviction, Inappropriate Sentence, other Unique and Special Circumstances that make the punishment or conviction unjust)

    Personally, I am not ready to give up on Huckabee yet. These things usually include more than meets the eye.

    God Bless and thanks for visiting Freedomthirst!

    ThirstyJon
    freedomthirst.com

  2. Renae says:

    It is the job of the government to protect its citizens. Letting convicted criminals free does not fulfill this purpose. I will consider these things as I look for a nominee.

  3. I mentioned in response to your comment on my blog – that he presided over 17 executions in Arkansas while he was Governor. He commuted the sentences of those convicted murderers to parole eligibility… he didn’t give a pardon to them.

    Also the crime rate in Arkansas went down while he was governor. Regarding the statement from the AP questionairre – “The U.S. should not kill Saddam Hussein or anyone else.” The media likes to cherry pick quotes and take them out of context. So I would like to read all of what he said.

    Also, since when does this issue define whether one is a social conservative? I’d be more concerned by Senator Thompson’s position on abortion and gay marriage if I were you. If he is president… nothing will be done unless the states do it. Go to http://recoveringtruth.blogspot.com – there is a video embedded from a U.S. Senate campaign he ran questioning him about abortion. I’d like to know what you think of the answer he gave.

  4. Kansas Bob says:

    Nice post Casey.. any thoughts about Romney?

  5. casey says:

    @Thirsty John

    No, that’s not the only issue I have against Huckabee. I also think he is soft on illegal immigration and that he is fiscally liberal. Oftentimes his speeches sound like they could be made by Democrats. I’m sure there is more than meets the eye to each of these things, and running a state is no easy task, but all these things added together seem to paint a picture of Huckabee as less than 100% conservative.

    @Renae

    I agree. Shane noted that these were commutations to parole-eligibility, but I don’t agree with that, either. Murderers should not be given any breaks. It is a slap in the face to the victims’ families and cheapens the life of the victim. In his capacity as an individual, Huckabee can forgive whoever he pleases, but as governor he is an agent of the state and should not be lenient with respect to convicted murderers.

    @Shane

    Whether it’s a pardon or commutation, I don’t agree with either in the case of convicted murderers. I think that is contrary to both common decency and biblical standards.

    Social conservatives are supposed to be tough on crime. Huckabee appears to be soft on crime (including illegal immigration). I agree that the media likes to cherry pick, so I’m sure there’s more to it than meets the eye. Being a governor is no easy task, and I’m sure that overall he was a good governor, but I think these things, combined with his support for programs that would expand the role of government, show a pattern of less than 100% conservatism.

    I had actually already seen the video you mention. I agree that Thompson’s answer was very disappointing. He does have a 100% prolife voting record, though, and I strongly believe that he will appoint judges that will overturn Roe v. Wade–and that is the first step.

    @Kansas Bob

    I will vote for Romney or Huckabee if they get the nomination, but I think conservatives are going to be in for a rude awakening with either of them. I am convinced that Romney will be less than faithful in his commitment to pro-family values, although I think he is sincere when it comes to the abortion issue (embryonic stem cells, on the other hand, I’m not so sure).

  6. ThirstyJon says:

    I can tell you this. The tone of the discussion here is refreshing. I get tired of some of the Yicky Conversation at Digg and other places.

    This is useful to me!

    As far as murderers. I believe in the death penalty for first degree murder. Pretty simple there.

    God Bless!

    ThirstyJon
    freedomthirst.com

  7. casey says:

    Ha, ha. No rudeness allowed here. Feel free to speak your mind on the other topics as well! ;)

  8. Scott says:

    FYI a look at Wikipedia (bastion of accuracy ;-)) says that he didn’t pardon the rapist, but rather the parole board set him free. Commutation of sentences by Governors and presidents is a common enough thing and I don’t have a problem with it. I think it shows mercy. Granted sometimes when mercy is shown it backfires. Still that’s no reason to say no to every request.

    “Huckabee can forgive whoever he pleases, but as governor he is an agent of the state and should not be lenient with respect to convicted murderers.”

    I think that’s up to the state and historically Governor’s have had this power.

  9. Lincoln says:

    I initially didn’t like Huckabee because of his weak stance on illegal immigration. This article pretty much sealed the deal for me:

    http://volokh.com/posts/1197597323.shtml

    Given a choice I think Duncan Hunter and Tancredo are the only viable conservatives I’d vote for.

  10. casey says:

    Scott, I take him at his word on the DuMond case. I’m talking about the other 11 convicted murderers for whom he actually did commute their sentences. I do not think that the state should be in the business of forgiveness. That’s a recipe for vigilantism and anarchy.

  11. Scott says:

    It’s worked pretty well so far.

  12. casey says:

    Tell that to the victims of parolled murderers.

  13. childlife says:

    Huh. I hadn’t heard about this. Probably because most of my reading has been of the Dr. Seuss variety for the past couple of weeks. Looks like I’ve got some catching up to do – thanks for sharing this Casey!

  14. Scott says:

    Well it hasn’t worked perfectly, but then nothing about our justice system does. Here in Winston Salem they just freed a man who spent 18 years in jail for a crime he didn’t commit. It happens.

  15. casey says:

    I’m all for releasing those wrongfully convicted. That is what clemency is all about. I do not think we should be releasing those rightfully convicted.