Ringside Seat: Huckabee Puts on His Dick Morris Hat

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee—who at the moment is a talk radio host—gave an exclusive interview to Newsmax TV where he warned of doom (and gnashing of teeth, presumably) if Republicans back away from their opposition to same-sex marriage. When asked if he thought the GOP might pivot away from opposition to marriage equality, he said, “They might. And if they do, they’re going to lose a large part of their base because evangelicals will take a walk." He later elaborated, explaining that “Politicians have an obligation to be thermostats, not just thermometers. They’re not simply to reflect the temperature of the room, or the culture, as it were.” For that reason, Republicans must continue their opposition, lest they cease to “set standards” for “what’s right” and “what’s wrong.”

As a representative of sorts from the social conservative wing of the Republican Party, Huckabee has every reason to oppose a general move to support—or quietly ignore—same-sex marriage. But if Republicans were to join Democrats in supporting marriage equality, would evangelicals really buck the party? Yes, the alliance between social and business conservatives has always been shaky—though, given the rise of megachurches and doctrines like the “prosperity gospel,” that’s somewhat overstated—but there’s no real alternative for conservative evangelicals. Between two presidential victories and the declining significance of white voters, Democrats have space to embrace their image as the party of social liberalism, and they have: Mainstream Democrats support abortion rights and marriage equality, making the party anathema to voters who seek to maintain the primacy of traditional social arrangements.

By bolting the GOP, evangelicals would lose their only vehicle for political power. And it’s not as if Republicans can manage without support from the Religious Right; its network of donors and volunteers is critical to GOP fortunes at every level, from local to national. The arrangement isn’t ideal, but it works.

Huckabee can warn all he wants, but the fact of the matter is that barring a full-scale shift to social liberalism by the party, evangelicals will stick with the GOP. Every interest group has differences with the party it supports, and if mainstream Republicans decide to join the tide on marriage equality, evangelicals will just move that energy toward issues of particular investment—like abortion—where they have made strides in implementing their agenda.

So They Say

"The other side hasn't been able to do anything but thump the Bible. I support civil unions—I always have—the gay-marriage thing, I don't feel that strongly about it one way or the other. I live in New York, New York has it. I’m just fine with it. I want all Americans to be happy.”

 —Bill O'Reilly


Daily Meme: Guess Who? Gay Marriage Edition

  • The week's big oral arguments on marriage equality are now done, but the story is far from over, and now is a good time to study up and become better acquainted with the two cases' most prominent faces.
  • First up, the attorneys. The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal have both submitted their picks for the Matthau/Lemmon pair for the SCOTUS set. The Timeswrote an odd couple feature on Ted Olson, who's going up against Prop. 8, and his friend Charles Cooper, who's defending the law.
  • The Journal instead wrote about Olson and Paul Clement, his former mentee who defended the Defense Against Marriage Act today.
  • Clement is a good one to watch on the conservative legal front—and not just on gay marriage. He went up against Obamacare last year, defended a few other Republican pet projects, and whispers about his potential for being on the Supreme Court, not just arguing before it, are very hip.
  • Ted Olson and his co-challenger in the Prop 8 case, David Boies, did not merit a splashy feature this week, but theirs is perhaps the most Odd Couple-esque. The two lawyers, now on the same team, faced off on Bush v. Gore. In 2000, Jake Tapperwrote about the two lawyers' differing politics, fashion sense, and networking acumen for Salon
  • Another important lawyer whose name you should remember? Mary Bonauto, without whom "no gay person in this country would be married."
  • Bonauto is a Maine lawyer who set down many of the tracks that allowed the DOMA case to reach the federal courts. 
  • Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer are two of the plaintiffs challenging DOMA today, and Buzzfeed has pieces that explain both their romance and their role in the gay rights movement.
  • Dominick Zarrillo, the father of one of the plaintiffs in the Prop. 8 case, wrote a Kleenex-worthy "Modern Love" column last year about his support for same-sex marriage.
  • And Margaret Talbot has a piece from 2010 that looks at the history of the California ballot initiative and the gay marriage movement, asking whether it's too soon to petition the Supreme Court on the issue. After this week, it looks like the answer is a firm no. 

What We're Writing

  • E. J. Graff writes that we've all got reason to hope after the Prop 8 oral arguments that marriage equality is on the cusp of being a non-issue.
  • It's no big news that the tech industry is man-heavy, but the fallout over Adria Richards and "Donglegate" has been more vitriolic than most had expected. Jaclyn Friedman explains why nobody should be surprised.

What We're Reading

  • Ashley Judd decides not to challenge Mitch McConnell after all.
  •  Julia Ioffe profiles Gene Sperling, who has made himself a force of White House economic policy by sleeping less than everyone else.
  • Senator Kay Hagan is a Democrat who has, at long last, come out for gay marriage. Is that really still a thing for non-Republicans?
  • The Washington Post sees potential for an alliance of right and left against our corporate-run "Predator State."
  • Pew came out with a study showing that Fox has a fairly even breakdown between "hard news" and opinion stories. Erik Wemple demonstrates how that finding doesn't mean that all the "hard news" isn't also biased.
  • When America's largest companies wanted to bring down healthcare costs, they banded together and started acting like Medicare.
  • The United States' "most transparent administration" keeps persecuting whistle-blowers who have tried to expose waste, corruption, and criminal activity in the government.
  • Kim Jong Un comes down on the right side of history?

Poll of the Day

A CBS News poll has come to the amazing and utterly unexpected conclusion that the majority of Americans are unhappy with Washington, to the tune of eight-in-ten. That opinion likely stems from congressional inaction, since Americans are more-or-less split on most other issues in the poll—the deficit, budget cuts, gun control. The other twenty percent? They "think they're doing great!

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