I wrote yesterday about the scrambled logic employed by former state Rep. Cynthia Davis to defend Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who refuses to allow her office to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. I found it hard to believe that anyone could be as obtuse as Cynthia Davis seems to be. However, as Michael Bersin pointed out earlier, current State Rep. Vicky “Running God’s Way” Hartzler is also an admirer of the Kentucky county clerk.
Hartzler not only speaks up for Kentucky’s premier religious bigot, she is, as Steve Kraske of the Kansas City Star notes, the only one of Missouri’s congressional delegation to publicly defend Davis. I suspect that the only reason that she doesn’t go as far over the top as Missouri’s Cynthia Davis does is because her pronouncements so far have been brief (and if she decides to say more, she’ll have her staff to keep her coherent – something that Missouri Davis lacks). Hartzler nevertheless, misfires just as badly when she focuses on freedom of religion without acknowledging the civil rights of those in Davis’ religious cross-hairs, declaring that:
I stand with Kim Davis. It’s a sad day when we imprison someone in America because of their beliefs. Freedom of religion is our first right.
However, both Hartzler and Missouri Davis have even more distinguished company in their desire to defend Kentucky Davis: GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. And unlike Hartzler, Huckabee doesn’t hold back. He’s as over the top and poorly informed as Davis (although a bit more fluent in English). He attempts to draw parallels with the 19th century Dred Scott decision, claiming that it is still the law of the land – even after being informed that it was overturned by the 14th amendment:
“I’ve been just drilled by TV hosts over the past week, ‘How dare you say that, uh, it’s not the law of the land?'” Huckabee said. “Because that’s their phrase, ‘it’s the law of the land.’ Michael, the Dred Scott decision of 1857 still remains to this day the law of the land which says that black people aren’t fully human. Does anybody still follow the Dred Scott Supreme Court decision?”
After correcting Huckabee, Medved then asked the candidate if he would attempt to overturn the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage ruling with a constitutional amendment.
“I don’t think that’s necessary,” Huckabee replied. “Because, in the case of this decision, it goes back to what Jefferson said that if a decision is rendered that is not borne out by the will of the people either through their elected people and gone through the process, if you just say it’s the law of the land because the court decided, then Jefferson said, ‘You now have surrendered to judicial tyranny.'”
“The Supreme Court in the same-sex marriage decision made a law and they made it up out of thin air. Therefore, until Congress decides to codify that and give it a statute it’s really not an operative law and that’s why what Kim Davis did was operate under not only the Kentucky Constitution which was the law under which she was elected but she’s operating under the fact that there’s no statute in her state nor at the federal level that authorizes her,” Huckabee said before Medved cut him off for a break.
That, I believe, is similar to the wannabe constitutional argument that our own Cynthia Davis is trying in her labored fashion to promulgate. So what does this mean about Huckabee – and by extension folks like Hartzler and Davis? As Steve Benen remarks:
… I don’t expect Huckabee to be a legal scholar. He’s not an attorney; he has no background in legal scholarship; he’s never even been an elected lawmaker.
But Huckabee is falling short of a junior-high-school level of understanding of the American constitutional system – which is generally not an appealing trait for someone seeking the nation’s highest office.
Huckabee’s bizarre mistake would be easier to dismiss if similar mistakes weren’t so common. The former governor and Fox News host has somehow convinced himself, for example, that federal “enabling legislation” is necessary in response to court rulings, or they don’t count. He’s also endorsed pre-Civil War nullification schemes and suggested he might deploy federal troops on U.S. soil to prevent women from exercising their reproductive rights.
It’s one thing to have a right-wing governing agenda, but it’s something else when a candidate invents his own brand of crackpot civics and pretends it’s real.
Cynthia Davis is a small time political has-been who has to resort to her own Internet talk show to try to peddle her silliness and Vicky Hartzler is basically just another lack-luster GOP hack. But Mike Huckabee is running for president – president of all of us, not just evangelical Christian fanatics.
Of course, on the other hand, why am I surprised that a GOP presidential candidate sounds a lot like a dim-witted local ex-politician? These individuals are members of a party in which Donald Trump is a viable presidential candidate, and which tried to make Sarah Palin Vice-President. They’re members of a party that has turned its back on science, that denies the reality of climate change, that would subjugate foreign policy to partisan political considerations, that endorses discredited Voodoo economics, that would enable tax-cuts for the rich and impose greater tax-burdens on the poor, that is willing to suppress voting rights in the name of non-existent “voter fraud,” that denies that contraception is a health issue, that tries to rewrite history books to support present day ideological druthers, and that has no compunction about trying to impose a myriad fantastical theories and beliefs on the rest of us. Davis, Hartzler and Huckabee are maybe just a little less subtle than some of their other colleagues.