Over the weekend, former Arkansas Governor and current Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee became just the latest candidate to light himself on fire to take some attention away from human fireworks display Donald Trump. Following a week in which Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) did literal violence to the tax code, and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) did similar violence to a flip phone, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) attacked President Obama for doing all the things Marco Rubio does, Huckabee made his own bid for attention on Breitbart News Saturday.
“This president’s foreign policy is the most feckless in American history. It is so naive that he would trust the Iranians. By doing so, he will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven.”
The comments were swiftly denounced by the Anti-Defamation League, which called them “completely out of line and unacceptable,” but lest you think this was some regrettable lapse by Huckabee, it wasn’t long before the candidate had meme’d it into a fundraising pitch:
— Gov. Mike Huckabee (@GovMikeHuckabee) July 26, 2015
At a press conference in Ethiopia Monday morning, President Obama was asked about the comment, and in a lengthy response, the President blasted Huckabee, but also took aim at Donald Trump. whom Obama credited with inspiring the remark:
“The particular comments of Mr. Huckabee are, I think, part of just a general pattern that we’ve seen would be considered ridiculous if it weren’t so sad.”
“I mean, we’ve had a sitting senator call John Kerry Pontius Pilate. We had a sitting senator who also happens to be running for president suggesting that I’m the leading state sponsor of terrorism. These are leaders in the Republican party.”
“…when you get rhetoric like this, it gets attention, and maybe this is just an effort to push Mr. Trump out of the headlines, but it’s not the kind of leadership that is needed for America right now.”
“When you look at what’s happened with Mr. Trump, when he’s made some of the remarks that, for example, challenge the heroism of Mr. McCain, somebody who endured torture, and conducted himself with exemplary patriotism, the Republican Party is shocked. And yet, that arises out of a culture where those attacks have become far too commonplace, and get circulated nonstop through the internet, talk radio, news outlets. And I recognize, when outrageous statements like that are made about me, a lot of the same people who were outraged when they were made about Mr. McCain were pretty quiet.”
Aside from the obvious crassness and trivializing nature of Huckabee’s remark, there is also a particular irony to his word choice. Huckabee and his evangelical base make a big show of defending Israel, but the accusation that Huckabee made toward the President’s Iran deal isn’t all that dissimilar to the fate that Huckabee believes will await the Jews after Jesus returns (hint: rhymes with “Cake of Wire”). Timing, as they say, is everything.