Thursday, November 29, 2007

Huckabee Caesar

Re Huckabee's defense of his support of the death penalty as Governor in last night's debate: Andrew Sullivan has posted the Asp comment below as half of the Dissent of the Day at The Daily Dish:

While I despise the "what would Jesus do?" mindset ("original intent" to the nth) and regard Christianism as a major threat to our democracy, I thought Huckabee's "Jesus was too smart to run for public office" response to the death penalty question was kind of brilliant. You found it a "cheapening of Jesus' radical injunction to forswear worldly power and wealth" -- I thought it was a dead-on voiceover of "render under Caesar what is Caesar's."

The thing is, Huckabee has been Caesar, i.e. has had to make the life-and-death decisions, which he spoke of rather movingly (not glibly, though I can't gauge his sincerity). What he said, in effect, was that Jesus offered no direct guidance to worldly rulers about what to do when the apparent demands of public welfare (or security) clash w/ the dictates of the Sermon on the Mount. In a way he was also saying he would have been 'smarter' to stay a minister rather than enter politics - there's that humility reflex, real or faked, which is part of his appeal. More to the point,, "Jesus couldn't (wouldn't) tell me outright what to do as governor." There's an unBushlike shunning of certainty there that's also part of his appeal.

The second half of the dissent, by another reader, highlighted the decency in Huckabee's discussion of immigration and defense of his refusal as governor to exclude the children of illegal aliens from a state merit scholarship program. In their different ways, Huckabee, McCain and Paul shed a few rays of decency on the dung heap of immigrant bashing, bloodlust for torture and contempt for civil liberties fertilizing the Republican frontrunners' campaigns.
If Huckabee or McCain win the nomination, I will not fear for the future of American democracy as intensely as I will if Double Guantanamo Romney or Depends-on-Who-Does-it Rudy win.

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