I have great faith. Obviously, I've been a Mets fan for forty years.
April 7, 2011 11:26 PM   Subscribe

Jon Stewart hosts a three part debate with Mike Huckabee about religion, society, and policy.

To be fair, The Daily Show isn't neutral ground. Stewart does grill Huckabee on David Barton (previously, a controversial evangelical Christian pastor who writes about American history.

The extended interview is worth watching, and part of the reason I'm posting is that Comedy Central has an atrocious user interface that makes it difficult to find the extended interview.

Although many MeFites (myself very much included) disagree with Huckabee vigorously, the three clips are worth watching for the civility of two intelligent people who clearly vehemently disagree with one another.
posted by graphnerd (118 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
Huckabee may be intelligent, but he's also demonstrated himself to be a morally bankrupt sellout who uses Tea Party talking points as a method of getting elected.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:31 PM on April 7, 2011 [11 favorites]


Um... Huckabee hasn't run for any elected office since the Tea Party came into existence. And he currently doesn't hold any elected office.

I agree that he isn't that great a guy, but I'm not sure that your statements about him are really very accurate.

And can I just take this moment to say, I can't hear his name with *heart*ing him in an existential, ball-in-the-face way?
posted by hippybear at 11:38 PM on April 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


Although many MeFites (myself very much included) disagree with Huckabee vigorously, the three clips are worth watching for the civility of two intelligent people who clearly vehemently disagree with one another.
I don't really understand the love of 'civility'. Can civility feed your family? Does civility provide healthcare to the sick? If you find cable news too vitriolic, then just don't watch it. I don't. You won't be any less informed.
Um... Huckabee hasn't run for any elected office since the Tea Party came into existence. And he currently doesn't hold any elected office.
He was one of the top polling potential candidates for '12 for the republicans. Now that Donald Trump has embraced birtherism though he's been knocked off his pedestal.
posted by delmoi at 11:44 PM on April 7, 2011 [11 favorites]


Huckabee hasn't run for any elected office since the Tea Party came into existence.

He started running for his next office aspiration the moment he began appearing on Fox News.
posted by Mikey-San at 11:45 PM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


That is one Huckabee I really do *not* heart.
posted by smoke at 11:51 PM on April 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Civility is overrated. I prefer heartfelt name-calling.
posted by vidur at 11:51 PM on April 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm in the "fuck civility" camp myself. Huckabee is straight up bananas and dangerous. He's a religious fundamentalist, a theocrat, and a well rounded assbag. I feel uncomfortable even seeing him on The Daily Show, as if he's a legitimate figure of any sort. I can't even.
posted by black rainbows at 11:54 PM on April 7, 2011 [22 favorites]


I don't really understand the love of 'civility'.

Try s/civility/lack of screaming eliminationism/i and re-evaluate. (Haven't watched this yet; will later. But I assume there's no screaming eliminationism.)

So much of American political discourse these days treats the Other as Adversary. Not someone to have a discussion with, not someone to respect as a human being, hell, in a lot of cases, not even someone to whom basic rights should be granted. If you're not going to do something to mitigate that force itself, then you might as well give up and start moving house so you can have a nice clean secession and subsequent collapse.

That having been said, Huckabee the guy seems to be a decent human being (I for one can respect the discipline of anyone who lost the weight he did how he did) with a set of ideas the implementation of which would and do have a demonstrably negative effect on the quality of life in the United States, present and future. But debate the ideas and their consequences. Don't assume the guy's a subhuman just because he likes to be seen with a bunch of terribly misinformed and existentially frightened people who can't spell.

That's what I'll take for civility these days.
posted by Vetinari at 11:57 PM on April 7, 2011 [23 favorites]


I wanted Stewart toss a lit match at Huckabee every time he did that misdirection tactic that he seems to have honed. I find Huckabee to be a calllous and dangerous opportunist beneath his grandfatherly veneer, and I'm rather weary of this bloodless style of debate.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:59 PM on April 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


I for one can respect the discipline of anyone who lost the weight he did how he did
He seems to have gained it all back, though.
posted by delmoi at 12:06 AM on April 8, 2011


Colbert put Huckabee on notice a month ago.
posted by Catblack at 12:14 AM on April 8, 2011


I'm in the "fuck civility" camp myself.

We don't really need more of that, though. We need more reasoned people to eviscerate stupid ideas and poor thinking in ways that don't lack balls or alienate people. Taking down dumb ideas doesn't require losing one's sense of civility. In fact, I'd wager that patient confrontation of bullshit accomplishes both goals in the best way possible.

You can't out-asshole an asshole, but you can out-think them.
posted by Mikey-San at 12:19 AM on April 8, 2011 [22 favorites]


Ack. I didn't mean to imply Mike Huckabee is an asshole, though it certainly does sound like I did. So let me say, as well: +1 to what Vetinari is driving at. I don't know Huckabee personally, for example, but he always comes across like a decent person even though he's pretty wrong about a lot of things. At what point did like, half the country lose the ability to say that?
posted by Mikey-San at 12:25 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mikey-San: "I don't know Huckabee personally, for example, but he always comes across like a decent person even though he's pretty wrong about a lot of things."

It's precisely because Huckabee is so likable that I find him so scary. His aw-shucks charm masks some seriously messed-up ideas about the role of religion in government. All the dangerous crazy of Palin without the repulsive bitterness. And the lengths his handlers are going to disappear all records of his governorship (and his preaching days) don't look so good.

I get the same feeling watching his proto-campaign that I imagine Republicans did when they first saw how affable that Barack fellow was.
posted by Rhaomi at 12:34 AM on April 8, 2011 [26 favorites]


Ack. I didn't mean to imply Mike Huckabee is an asshole

No? Then I'll say it: Mike Huckabee is an asshole.

See how easy that was?
posted by item at 12:39 AM on April 8, 2011 [12 favorites]


We don't really need more of that, though. We need more reasoned people to eviscerate stupid ideas and poor thinking in ways that don't lack balls or alienate people. Taking down dumb ideas doesn't require losing one's sense of civility. In fact, I'd wager that patient confrontation of bullshit accomplishes both goals in the best way possible.

I hear what you're saying. And I adhered to a similar philosophy for most of my life. But, ironically enough, Obama's election and the aftermath has pushed me into a "I don't even need to entertain this insanity" approach. I'm not in favor of shouting people down, but I also refuse to act like the notion of theocracy is a remotely valid opinion. Does this make me intellectually inferior? Perhaps. I struggle with my impotent rage, yo.
posted by black rainbows at 12:44 AM on April 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


Huckabee the guy seems to be a decent human being

Huckabee has openly advocated the permanent quarantine of everybody with AIDS, and gunpoint indoctrination into conservative Christianity. As recently as one year ago, he equated homosexuality to drug addiction and incest.

He is demonstrably not a decent human being. He is a monster, and any power he's given is power that will be used for evil. There are some ideas that should not be legitimized by the recognition of debate, and he seems to latch on to all of them.
posted by kafziel at 12:52 AM on April 8, 2011 [55 favorites]


And the lengths his handlers are going to disappear all records of his governorship (and his preaching days) don't look so good.

I agree. This is pretty fucked-up.

Does this make me intellectually inferior? Perhaps. I struggle with my impotent rage, yo.

I think we all do.
posted by Mikey-San at 12:52 AM on April 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


But debate the ideas and their consequences.

OK...

In 2008, Mike Huckabee said he would push for a constitutional ban on abortion.

In 2007, Mike Huckabee said "Let’s face it. In our lifetimes, we’ve seen our country go from ‘Leave it to Beaver’ to ‘Beavis and Butt-head,’ from Barney Fife to Barney Frank" - identifying the presence of an openly gay man in Congress as a sign of American cultural decadence.

Mike Huckabee signed the Fetal Protection Act in Arkansas, making a fetus over 12 weeks legally a full human being for criminal purposes (and thus, of course, opening up the possibility of capital trials for unsanctioned abortions in future). He also enacted the "women's right to know" act, which compels doctors to tell pregnant women that their fetus may feel pain, whether or not it is true or medically useful knowledge.

Mike Huckabee signed legislation outlawing same-sex marriage in Arizona.

Mike Huckabee also opposes civil unions for same-sex relationships - he wants same-sex couples to have no access to legal recognition and thus presumably partner benefits.

Mike Huckabee would reinstate DADT, claiming that this is the will of the soldiers in the face of polling evidence.

In Arkansas, Mike Huckabee has executed more people than any other governor.

The parts where he said that AIDS victims ought to be quarantined, and that homosexuality has never been treated as equal by any society are from the 90s, and he might credibly argue that his position has changed. Some information it's hard to obtain, because he had the drives of 83 computers and 4 servers overwritten or physically destroyed before running for President.

Huckabee seems like a great conversationalist and a very warm and loving human being, but I think it's worth noting that if you are a woman or a homosexual, or have friends who are, he doesn't appear to want you/your friends to have the same rights or autonomy that he has, and he's prepared to legislate to make sure you don't. And, in terms of consequences, if you do anything else that Southern Baptists wouldn't approve of - take drugs, not go to church, worship a false god, commit adultery, have sex before marriage - then I wouldn't be totally confident that you are protected from legislation seeking to protect you from your bad decisions.
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:30 AM on April 8, 2011 [71 favorites]


Clearly, an intelligent guy.
posted by bashos_frog at 2:30 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


So much of American political discourse these days treats the Other as Adversary. Not someone to have a discussion with, not someone to respect as a human being, hell, in a lot of cases, not even someone to whom basic rights should be granted. If you're not going to do something to mitigate that force itself, then you might as well give up and start moving house so you can have a nice clean secession and subsequent collapse.

Yes, but this phenomenon is not symmetrical. The right has seen the left as a force to be attacked and not engaged for decades - and the (non-radical) left has been mostly in reactive mode to the onslaught. This left has a genuine fear of the right, but the right has no corresponding fear.

I blame this on the left being associated with hippie-ism and New Age-ism in many American minds. In much of Europe, the left is taken much more seriously by its opponents because its associated less with hippie-ism and more with organized and not-to-be-trifled-with labor and the working class. And also with riots and anarchists.

I'm no proponent of violence or anarchy, but I do think the left would get much further in achieving its goals (and attracting converts) if it could establish itself far and wide as a force not to be trifled with, and forever close itself to charges of wishi-washiness and weakness.

I'm sorry but as much as I get where Stewart comes from with his "we're all Americans, we're all human beings" thing, I think its all wishful thinking and zero reality. America is too big, riven along too many lines, and awash in too much ideology for the unity that Stewart wishes for to be possible. I am not advocating treating those people as Other or as Enemy, but clarity about the nature of the conflicts. They are opponents who we have to engage only insofar as to get what we want - and its best to engage opponents from a position of strength. I think that the right has understood this for a long time, the rest of us are just catching up.
posted by tempythethird at 2:43 AM on April 8, 2011 [22 favorites]


everything running order squabble fest said, up to and including: And, in terms of consequences, if you do anything else that Southern Baptists wouldn't approve of - take drugs, not go to church, worship a false god, commit adultery, have sex before marriage - then I wouldn't be totally confident that you are protected from legislation seeking to protect you from your bad decisions.

See, there you go. Nicely done, sir. He has demonstrably bad ideas if you're not in the 5% minority (1.62e7 SBC congregation members / 3.08e8 people in the US) for whom living Baptist does not represent significantly curtailed civil liberties. Indeed, reading that I'm left with the impression that a vote for Huckabee would itself be, well, un-American.

All without throwing a lit match or calling the guy names.
posted by Vetinari at 2:46 AM on April 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm sorry but as much as I get where Stewart comes from with his "we're all Americans, we're all human beings" thing, I think its all wishful thinking and zero reality. America is too big, riven along too many lines, and awash in too much ideology for the unity that Stewart wishes for to be possible.

The logical conclusion of this line of thinking is Belgium at best and civil war at worst. Not really sure what to do with that, just pointing it out. But the point at which the majority thinks this way is the point at which energies are probably best directed toward dissolution.

In much of Europe, the left is taken much more seriously by its opponents because its associated less with hippie-ism and more with organized and not-to-be-trifled-with labor and the working class. And also with riots and anarchists.

Sadly, all this really seems to do is factor broken windows and additional policing costs around the first of May, and various shutdowns due to labor actions, into the cost of doing business. Red riots and football riots are indistinguishable from behind a riot shield. You check the SNCF's strike calendar and make alternate plans on bad days. There's no credible threat of revolution, at least at the moment. The left is taken more seriously because it's part of the conversation here. This is partly societal, and partly a consequence of the existence of coalition governments. The Overton Window is closer to the center, and for the most part Europe tends to agree on a more socialist idea of the basic rights and services a society should guarantee its citizens, even if they don't agree on the ideology behind those guarantees.
posted by Vetinari at 3:02 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't really understand the love of 'civility'. Can civility feed your family? Does civility provide healthcare to the sick?

Well, yes. The point of civility is that of enabling a rational, dispassionate public debate. Screams and insults may be satisfying in the short term, but a public debate dominated by them is not won by the best arguments, but by the shrillest loudmouths. That is the whole point of the Tea Party's existence: those bankrolling it and cooking its talking points knew perfectly well that they couldn't rationally defend the existing health care system in the US. Thus the "death panels" and Sarah Palin's 24/7 TV coverage.

In any debate, when your opponent, running short of rational arguments, forsakes civility and starts slinging mud, it is a profound mistake, if you are in the right, to follow his lead into the gutter. It is like wrestling a pig in the mud: both sides get dirty, but the pig enjoys it.

So, yes, civility can feed your family, if you are debating social policy. Civility can provide healthcare to the sick, if you are debating healthcare. Don't underestimate civility, especially not when you are right.
posted by Skeptic at 3:09 AM on April 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


I'm sorry but as much as I get where Stewart comes from with his "we're all Americans, we're all human beings" thing, I think its all wishful thinking and zero reality. America is too big, riven along too many lines, and awash in too much ideology for the unity that Stewart wishes for to be possible. I am not advocating treating those people as Other or as Enemy, but clarity about the nature of the conflicts. They are opponents who we have to engage only insofar as to get what we want - and its best to engage opponents from a position of strength. I think that the right has understood this for a long time, the rest of us are just catching up.

The right is wrong for doing this. We ARE all Americans (to the extent that we are all living in the US anyway), and anyone who denies this cares more about winning than governing.
posted by gjc at 3:19 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


kafziel: "He is demonstrably not a decent human being. He is a monster, and any power he's given is power that will be used for evil."

JFC, that's some hyperbole. I mean, the guy's fucked-up and has some appalling beliefs (so does half my stupid family) and the mere thought of someone like that as president is chilling.
But while there are certainly times when I want to (or do) yell angrily at something that really offends, it doesn't help; unless you are a particularly articulate yeller, then you're doing more harm than good. I understand the civility fatigue, but how can some of you argue against it as a more useful and productive tactic? You're not going to bludgeon someone out of ignorance, no matter how appealing that fantasy might be.
posted by Red Loop at 3:31 AM on April 8, 2011


If you cannot be civil with someone because they are so mind-numbingly ignorant or anti-reason you will do better to ignore them completely.
posted by AndrewKemendo at 3:33 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


The logical conclusion of this line of thinking is Belgium at best and civil war at worst.
You're somewhat right. If I had my way America would be peacefully devolved into an EU-style free economic/movement zone. I don't think any democracy as large and diverse as America is workable - nor is any non-pathological feeling of national identity possible on so large a scale. Witness all the squabbling over the ownership of the "real American" label. But I know this is a pipe dream.

The left is taken more seriously because it's part of the conversation here. This is partly societal...
I think this can be explained, at least to some degree, by the relative strength of the left in Europe. This strength does result in increased costs from labor actions, as you put it, and dealing with riots. But it also results in establishing the left as a large and credible force, and thus brings it into the conversation and brings social-democratic policy within the overton window. This is what I want to happen in the US.


We ARE all Americans
But just how far does that go? Being a NYC native - I feel much more connection to someone from another big city, even one that's not English-speaking, than I do with someone from, say, rural Missouri, or Alaska - those places are in different time zones, with different cultures and different histories. They may just as well be other countries that share the same language. So - I guess I do deny the relevance of this - yet I care less about winning than seeing the policies I believe to be right and necessary implemented. Governing, that is.
posted by tempythethird at 3:44 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


(Forgive me - I meant "run for the Republican Presidential candidate nomination", rather than "run for President". Haste rather than ignorance. I hope. )
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:51 AM on April 8, 2011


So, yes, civility can feed your family, if you are debating social policy. Civility can provide healthcare to the sick, if you are debating healthcare. Don't underestimate civility, especially not when you are right.

So how do you explain the reality of modern America? If I remember correctly, the current president is remarkable for his civility. There is still no real healthcare for the sick, WIC and TANF will probably get gutted along with school lunches and breakfasts.
posted by fuq at 4:08 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


"There is still no real healthcare for the sick"

Who were those people at the hospital who treated my son when he fell down the stairs last month?
posted by DWRoelands at 4:19 AM on April 8, 2011


Civility, or lack of it isn't the cause of Obama's inability to swim against the current of the last half century. This current won't be changed any faster than evolution. THAT is the reality of america. Divide and conquer. Distract and rule. No one will get close enough to being president without becoming part of the machine. That is why civility (and the patience of generations) needs to be in the mix 2 to 1 over all the verbal violence
posted by Redhush at 4:22 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Who were those people at the hospital who treated my son when he fell down the stairs last month?

I'm guessing, but I think that your son probably came under "hurt" rather than "sick" - I guess that fuq is talking about is people with long-term sickness rather than people who need emergency-room care. Even then, of course, there is healthcare for the sick and wealthy, or even the sick and economically useful. And there's also healthcare for the sick and old (Medicare) and for sick veterans (VA hospitals). The set of people with health issues for which they cannot get care is a subset of the set of Americans. It's just quite a big set.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:01 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I truly don't understand the point of engaging with Huckabee. The man is not well and not to be taken serious.

In a related story, during the 2008 GOP primaries, I once saw Huckabee speak about abortion for SEVEN MINUTES without saying the word "woman" ONCE - unless you count multiple, creepy references to a fetus being "in the womb," which I don't.
posted by EatTheWeak at 5:11 AM on April 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


Jon Stewart hosts a three part debate with Mike Huckabee about religion, society, and policy.

At the end of which he ordered all copies of the debate destroyed, I'm sure.

I was never happier than when we got that man out of the governor's mansion. I wish to Christ I could be rid of him. It's almost as bad as when I was still living in Missouri and John Ashcroft came back into my life, only this time with more power and more certainty that he was doing Jesus' (his Jesus, the one who hates poor people and tortures brown people) work.
posted by middleclasstool at 5:23 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Seriously, you think Dubya ran a closed government and was crooked as a dog's hind leg, wait until you see this gift-whoring, FOIA-ignoring man in the Oval.
posted by middleclasstool at 5:24 AM on April 8, 2011


I blame this on the left being associated with hippie-ism and New Age-ism in many American minds. In much of Europe, the left is taken much more seriously by its opponents because its associated less with hippie-ism and more with organized and not-to-be-trifled-with labor and the working class. And also with riots and anarchists.

What is hippie-ism? That sounds like begging the question to me. (I think I have a rough idea of what New Age-ism is, but feel free to explain that one, too.)

As for the left in Europe...

The left in Europe is taken seriously because it has power. It has a base of support, which it has not yet managed to completely alienate (though in some parts, they are sure working on it!) Political contributions are regulated such that in most countries, the parties get most of their money from small, individual contributions. (A German court just forced Angela Merkel's office to make the guest list of her dinner in honour of Deutsche Bank chief Josef Ackermann public. Can you see that happening in the US?)

In short, the left has power because the left, in Europe, is "us" and not "them." In the US, the Republicans have been masters at flipping that around.

The Democratic Party has ignored the middle class for so long that said middle class is now too poor to donate money to them to keep them afloat, leaving them in the unenviable position of having to compete with the Republicans for the attention of the few remaining people with any spare cash. That has a way of narrowing your political agenda.

Protect your people, and they will go through the fires of hell for you. It's that simple. That's what the American Left forgot.
posted by rhombus at 5:37 AM on April 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


Being a NYC native - I feel much more connection to someone from another big city, even one that's not English-speaking, than I do with someone from, say, rural Missouri, or Alaska - those places are in different time zones, with different cultures and different histories.

I don't buy this having family living everywhere from Chicago to isolated ranches in the middle of the Northern Plains. We all seem to get along, and have a surprising array of common interests.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:49 AM on April 8, 2011


Fuck civility. The last Republican Stewart had a crush on was John McCain. A couple years under the microscope of presidential election attention levels and primary base pleasing and there isn't anything left but the person who gave us Palin.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:16 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm totally with Vetinari on civility, and I'll take it one step further. Here's one blindingly obvious reason to be civil: so you can convince other people. The only reason to not be civil to Huckabee is because it would feel good, which is straight-up childish.
posted by Edgewise at 6:19 AM on April 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


People who don't appreciate civil discourse can waggle deez ballz.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:20 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's precisely because Huckabee is so likable that I find him so scary.

Indeed. There is nothing "civil" about Huckabee's agenda for the United States. So his "civility" act is deeply cynical and nothing but a performance, a put on, a con game, the inverse of Glenn Beck.

He is an evil man. There's nothing nice about him. Everybody wanted to have a beer with Bush the Lesser too.
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:28 AM on April 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


"Hippie-ism" is shorthand for those counter-cultural movements of the 60s/70s associated with resistance to the Vietnam war, civil rights, the rise of Feminism, the sexual revolution - and to many also pot, rock music, questionable personal hygiene, and laziness. But I think you knew that that's what I was referring to.

As much as I can get behind all of these things (other than the hygiene and laziness), these do not a nation-wide base of support make. Especially when we're trying to lure back the half of the country that we lost with the civil rights act. By the way - this middle class the Democratic party has ignored - they left the Democrats, not the other way around. Because a huge chunk of them were terribly racist. The left never split from the middle/working class in Europe because there was no wedge issue of race, Jim Crow laws, etc.

I don't buy this...
I have family in Russia and friends all over the world too. We all get along. That doesn't mean I feel like I belong to those nations - I just get along with those people.

The only reason to not be civil...
You missed an awesome reason for not being civil - the pointlessness of wasting one's breath.
posted by tempythethird at 6:28 AM on April 8, 2011


From EattheWeak's excellent link above:

The organization which hosted the “Rediscover God In America” conference, United in Purpose, has edited Huckabee’s comment from footage of his speech, but not before People For The American Way’s Kyle Mantyla captured the unedited footage, in which Mike Huckabee states, “I almost wish that there would be, like, a simultaneous telecast, and all Americans would be forced–forced at gunpoint no less–to listen to every David Barton message, and I think our country would be better for it. I wish it’d happen.”

David Barton is the leading promoter of a brand of falsified American history altered to support the claim that America was founded as a Christian, rather than a secular, nation.


What's "civil" about that?
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:30 AM on April 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Huckabee is to America what the Ayatollah Khamenei was to 1970s Iran. His agenda is no less radical and no less religious, and anyone who doesn't recognize the threat he poses is just as dangerous.

How's that for civil.
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:37 AM on April 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


Rhaomi: " It's precisely because Huckabee is so likable that I find him so scary. His aw-shucks charm masks some seriously messed-up ideas about the role of religion in government. All the dangerous crazy of Palin without the repulsive bitterness. And the lengths his handlers are going to disappear all records of his governorship (and his preaching days) don't look so good."

This is what disturbs me about him as well. Most politicians are elected as much on their charisma as their rhetoric. Elections are won not by being crazier than ones opponent, but by inspiring emotion in the masses. Republicans generally do well pushing a message of security and self-determinism. Democrats usually do so by pushing hope and idealism.

Crossover candidates who can emphasize both usually win elections. In recent years: Reagan. Obama.

Don't underestimate Huckabee. He sounds reasonable, sane and fatherly to anyone who doesn't pay attention to social issues and votes with their gut. Heck knows a lot of Americans do.
posted by zarq at 6:43 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


fourcheesemac: "So his "civility" act is deeply cynical and nothing but a performance, a put on, a con game, the inverse of Glenn Beck."

Doubtful. I've heard him in many interviews and watched his show a few times. He truly seems to believe what he's saying.
posted by zarq at 6:46 AM on April 8, 2011


I don't find much comfort in someone's hatemongering and base-pandering being sincere. Someone help me uncover the silver lining.
posted by black rainbows at 6:53 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you cannot be civil with someone because they are so mind-numbingly ignorant or anti-reason you will do better to ignore them completely.

posted by AndrewKemendo at 6:33 AM on April 8 [+] [!]


The things is, were not talking about being civil to Joe Schmoe. The "someone" here, refers to a man who would be President of the United States. I think it's necessary and valuable to be civil with my relatives in rural Iowa. But when it comes to those who have or aspire to power, we need to call them on their shit directly and in clear terms.
posted by flotson at 7:17 AM on April 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


black rainbows: "I don't find much comfort in someone's hatemongering and base-pandering being sincere. Someone help me uncover the silver lining."

It shouldn't be reassuring. But I gotta say I prefer Huckabee's rhetoric to Limbaugh's. In a debate, Huckabee's argument doesn't drown out everyone else with volume, sarcasm, mockery and personal attacks. Debates should be about the merits of an argument, not which person can be more of an asshole.

Also, Father Coughlin-types like Sarah Palin, Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh are more likely to create rage against specific targets in their audiences. A mob mentality, which can be more dangerous than a quiet argument.
posted by zarq at 7:19 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


A lot of the rhetoric hinted in this thread is reducing Huckabee to a sociopath with a sinister agenda. This is a crappy place to start from.

He's human like any of us, with motivations and rationale for what we believes in and where he's coming from.

We all have a Jesus complex. We espouse our beliefs on a daily basis, whether intentional/conscious or not. Some of us have differing degrees of dogma, and different levels of self-efficacy. Some of us have larger platforms, and larger levels of motivation.

Essentially, there's a sense that Huckabee is the Other. The reality is he's more like any of us than we'd like to assert -- whether we agree with him or not.

Start from this point, and realize how much more precise you can make sense of everything he's saying. He's no more a product of his beliefs and experiences than any of us.
posted by Christ, what an asshole at 7:23 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


He's human like any of us, with motivations and rationale for what we believes in and where he's coming from.


Yes. If he were an alien, he wouldn't be elegible to hold public office - unless he was Kryptonian and this was a dream, a story or an imaginary tale - and the whole thing would be a lot less pressing.
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:29 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


zarq: It shouldn't be reassuring. But I gotta say I prefer Huckabee's rhetoric to Limbaugh's. In a debate, Huckabee's argument doesn't drown out everyone else with volume, sarcasm, mockery and personal attacks.

There's plenty of rage-mongering and mockery in Huckabee's rhetoric. It's just under the radar. He does it in front of select audiences and knows how to appear civil and "rational" in front of a larger audience who might be scared or turned off by his more hard-edged rhetoric.

Sometimes he doesn't bother to tone it down, either. He believes that the government should legislate a requirement for "traditional marriage" to be the norm and told CNN's John King on February 25, "I believe that we're in denial about potential problems as we see more and more homosexual couples raising families. Essentially, these are experiments to see how well children will fare in such same-sex households. It will be years before we know whether or not our little guinea pigs turn out to be good at marriage and parenthood."

Christ, what an asshole: Essentially, there's a sense that Huckabee is the Other. The reality is he's more like any of us than we'd like to assert -- whether we agree with him or not.

The man is angling to get into a position with the potential direct power to ruin me and my partner's lives and the lives of millions of others. Blurring the issue with disingenuous clichés and false equivalences like "He's only human" and "Some of us have larger platforms" isn't going to change my opinion of that reality, whether it means I have a "Jesus complex" or not.
posted by blucevalo at 7:36 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


The reality is he's more like any of us than we'd like to assert

Kind of a bold assumption.
posted by EatTheWeak at 7:41 AM on April 8, 2011


I think some of you guys are missing my point entirely.

I'm not trying to excuse or justify his position (which I'm entirely in opposition to), but reducing Huckabee to a sociopath is trying to NOT understand him. In the context of this discussion, that's a disingenuous place from which to level reasoned debate.

Connect first, then break down.
posted by Christ, what an asshole at 7:42 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Huckabee may be intelligent, but he..."

...believes in impinging upon your rights -- and breaking up people's marriages and families -- in order to please his invisible friend in the sky.
posted by markkraft at 7:45 AM on April 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Christ, what an asshole

Looks like some of us think you nom de web is punctuated inappropriately.
posted by Herodios at 7:46 AM on April 8, 2011


but reducing Huckabee to a sociopath is trying to NOT understand him

Okay, fair enough. I submit, however, that the trouble is that I understand him just fine. Those are eyes that ache to see infidels burning. I'm not interested in reasoned debate with his toxicity because it is not possible.
posted by EatTheWeak at 7:49 AM on April 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Slightly more seriously, as far as one can tell the endgame here is to dismantle the separation of church and state, to make providing or receiving abortion a capital crime and to encourage homosexuals through a mixed program of social and legislative means to accept that they are not entitled to equal treatment or protection under the law. How far one would get with that project is another question, of course, but we've seen habeas corpus, posse comitatus the presumption of innocence and the right to trial take a few dings, lately, so who knows?

I totally understand why he believes this - just as I absolutely understand how General Pinochet saw inflation as a bigger problem than people's desire not to be dropped out of helicopters into volcanoes. However, I think it's OK to understand that we all put our pants on one leg at a time and also to wish that some of us decided to stay in bed instead.
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:52 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


OK, so don't be civil. See where that gets you. Preach to the choir all day, while he sits out there looking reasonable and affable. See how many people will flock to your banner. Some of you are making the strange mistake of thinking that maintaining decorum with Huckabee is a favor to him. Meanwhile the same people seem to notice that his avuncular manner is helpful to his cause, without understanding how keeping their cool in a debate could be useful to them. Would Stewart have gained anything other than your smug approval by tearing into Huckabee? The debate wasn't to persuade Huckabee, it was to persuade the audience! Why must liberals and democrats work so hard against their own self-interests?
posted by Edgewise at 8:03 AM on April 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Why must liberals and democrats work so hard against their own self-interests?

Why must liberals and democrats always be the fools trying to play a game of engagement and compromise with opponents who are very consciously playing a zero-sum game?

We could go on like this all day.
posted by tempythethird at 8:15 AM on April 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


If you're lucky enough to have missed it, Huckabee is behind the ad campaign for a petition to repeal health care reform. These ads have been Huckabee's attempt to co-opt tea party outrage for his own political benefit. And the manager of Restore America's Voice (the PAC organizing the campaign) "is well known as a scam artist who has used a myriad of tricks to defraud people out of their money."
posted by malocchio at 8:24 AM on April 8, 2011


Connect first, then break down.

Connect with what? Connect with someone who starts from the irrational position that who I am as a human being is invalid and worthy of legislating into criminality? No. Not gonna happen.
posted by blucevalo at 8:25 AM on April 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


A lot of the rhetoric hinted in this thread is reducing Huckabee to a sociopath with a sinister agenda. This is a crappy place to start from.

He's human like any of us, with motivations and rationale for what we believes in and where he's coming from.


He's not part of some sinister plot, no. And he's not a sociopath. He's actually a rarity -- a Republican that does more than just *talk* about caring about the poor and public education. I give him full credit for that. It's honorable and does him credit.

But on some level, he never got over being a preacher from a megachurch. He loves being given presents, ethics rules be damned. He was hauled in front of the state for ethics violations multiple times, and as a pure coincidence, immediately after one of his acquittals, the deciding vote on the ethics board found herself with a new government job and Huck's name as a reference on her resume. He used the governor's mansion fund as a private slush fund for his family to go out to dinner and take vacations, and fired and threatened and generally tormented the accountant who stood up and told him no.

He does not like, in fact will not tolerate, questions that are anything less than friendly. He cut off the one liberal paper in this state from alerts to press events because they don't fellate him the way the Arkansas Democrat Gazette did and continues to do. His excuse? They're not a real newspaper -- as if that were his call to make. He started ignoring FOIA requests from them too on the same grounds, daring them to sue, ignoring that FOIA isn't just for journalists.

That patented charisma of his evaporates faster than an eyedropper full of rubbing alcohol in low orbit with just three pointed questions about what he's doing with all that power of his.

He likes to set up his little fiefdoms. He likes to be king of the castle. He likes power and access to famous people and free stuff and cameras (friendly cameras, mind), and absolutely loathes any journalist worthy of the name. He doesn't want to be president to push some sinister agenda. He wants to be King Turd of Shit Mountain, and while I have little doubt that he would do some good in the Oval Office, that's just ancillary to his real goal of being given power and gifts and being fluffed by a staff. Nice big airplane to fly around in? Secret Service detail? That shit is manna to him.

He's not a sociopath. He's a thin-skinned famewhore.
posted by middleclasstool at 8:25 AM on April 8, 2011 [9 favorites]


The civility thing starts with the assumption that the system works, it just needs a few little tweaks. If you're a comedian on Comedy Central making 100,000,000 a year I can see where you'd probably think so.

Members of Joseph Stiglitz's 1% club can afford to sit around civilly debating.

I think angry preaching to the choir is the correct thing to do. (Engage metaphor stretch) See, the church is on fire and the choir is asleep in the choir box thingy. Wake up choir!
posted by Trochanter at 8:47 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


The organization which hosted the “Rediscover God In America” conference, United in Purpose, has edited Huckabee’s comment from footage of his speech, but not before People For The American Way’s Kyle Mantyla captured the unedited footage, in which Mike Huckabee states, “I almost wish that there would be, like, a simultaneous telecast, and all Americans would be forced–forced at gunpoint no less–to listen to every David Barton message, and I think our country would be better for it. I wish it’d happen.”

David Barton is the leading promoter of a brand of falsified American history altered to support the claim that America was founded as a Christian, rather than a secular, nation.


I don't think it's reasonable to take this fragment of the speech and say, "Mike Huckabee wants to convert everyone in the United States to Christianity at gunpoint!" because that's clearly not what he's doing here. He's using violent rhetoric--which anyone can be prone to do in hyperbole, but which really shouldn't have a role in politics, in my opinion--to say, "I think this thing is important."

I disagree, and so does probably anyone else in this thread. I feel weird picking on this, because I think I'm fairly opposed to most of Huckabee's views, but I think it highlights something important to the civility sub-convo going on. There are plenty of questionable statements or actions one can use to criticize Huckabee--and this is one of them, certainly!--without needing to distort his character or the events in question. Simply reporting what Huckabee had said and that there was an effort to bury this part of the speech would have been enough. If necessary, that can be the starting point for a calm and careful discussion about why we think mixing political power with religious institutions is a bad idea, which will ultimately do more for our point of view than shrill outrage.
posted by byanyothername at 8:56 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why must liberals and democrats always be the fools trying to play a game of engagement and compromise with opponents who are very consciously playing a zero-sum game?

Because when you're sitting down in front of a camera in a studio, you're not engaging or compromising with the other talking head, and you may have every reason to spit in his face. You're engaging and compromising with the viewers, including the swing voters that you need to get anything done in this country. Limbaugh, Beck, and Colter can get away with invective because Conservatives are %40 of the population. Liberals are 15%. Any political strategy that doesn't take this into account is likely doomed in our currently political environment.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:57 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


By the way - this middle class the Democratic party has ignored - they left the Democrats, not the other way around. Because a huge chunk of them were terribly racist. The left never split from the middle/working class in Europe because there was no wedge issue of race, Jim Crow laws, etc.

Very good point. This is also why the European left is now in crisis: the similar issue of immigration is being purposely used as a wedge to alienate many of their natural supporters.
posted by Skeptic at 9:10 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Civility is good for convincing people. However, it requires those people to listen to you.
posted by LogicalDash at 9:13 AM on April 8, 2011


You're engaging and compromising with the viewers...

Yes and I'm sure that having viewers see yet another put-upon liberal splitting hairs, acting understanding, and actually engaging absurd rhetoric will work wonders in bolstering that 15%.

That 15% exists because the word Liberal has been destroyed, and now, if it stands for anything, it stands for Trevor and Carol here. And who wants to join that team?
posted by tempythethird at 9:19 AM on April 8, 2011


Yes and I'm sure that having viewers see yet another put-upon liberal splitting hairs, acting understanding, and actually engaging absurd rhetoric will work wonders in bolstering that 15%.

None of that is mandated by civility. You can declare war in a perfectly reasonable and moderated tone of voice. You can express anger without resorting to insult. And the people who can do that can be scary as heck because you know they're not going to change their minds when they chill out.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:27 AM on April 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Despite what they claim, some of Stewart and Colbert's finest and most important moments include them being insulting straight to someone's face. Stewart doesn't do that on his show very often because he needs guests to come on his show and mostly they don't deserve it. Huck deserves it.

The point of political satire/humor is to expose the truth, not to convince anyone or be nice. If the Daily Show isn't exposing Huck for what he is, they fail. In general they do a good job of that with Huck, but his nice guy image (while genuine) is also used as a political tool to do some horrible shit, no need to be nice back. Challenge him, and see how well that image stands up.

IMO, there is no chance it would last through a national general election.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:41 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


If necessary, that can be the starting point for a calm and careful discussion about why we think mixing political power with religious institutions is a bad idea, which will ultimately do more for our point of view than shrill outrage.

I, for one, am exhausted after 20-odd years trying to have rational, calm, careful discussion with people who start from a set of premises that are entirely irrational and whose goal is to sabotage and defeat rational discourse -- because they believe that rational discourse itself is a tool of the devil.

Their belief is the exact opposite of the one you are posing -- and nothing will convince them otherwise. The same issues come up over and over again and never get resolved, despite all of the time and effort that has been expended trying to get the discussion to a rational plane.

I don't really see any advantage, let alone any positive outcome for "our point of view," in trying to meet them on common ground when there is none that they will cede exists.
posted by blucevalo at 10:02 AM on April 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


None of that is mandated by civility.

We're in agreement. And I am not advocating screaming or name calling either, but after one declares war in a perfectly reasonable and moderate tone of voice - what else is there left to say to the other side? Not much, and that's entirely my point.

include them being insulting straight to someone's face...

As far as I know, Stewart did that to the crossfire guys, and to Jim Cramer, and that's it. Surely deserving targets - but the Republican party they are not. As much as he likes to insist that he's nothing but a comedian, Stewart has become the head (creator?) of a "the media is making us all act like dicks and in reality there's lots of common ground between us" movement - he is playing a greater political role than that of the satirist. And I wish I could join him, but I think he's wrong.
posted by tempythethird at 10:31 AM on April 8, 2011


Human beings can be terrible jerks or downright evil, which aren't really presidential qualities. Hence our need for prisons. I don't really think that's a great qualifier of one's character.

Let's not call him a monster until he reveals a few tentacles. Let's not assume he's a sociopath, as that's between him and his mental health professional. Let's just try to figure out what his stances on the issues are likely to be over the next 4-8 years, as that's what we'd be in for if he were elected.

I get the feeling he'd be a bit better in terms of anti-poverty programs than your typical republican, but I don't really trust his economic chops. He was for the Fair Tax, which is downright worrying for its regressive qualities (and before anyone chimes in "But it has rebates for the poor," that doesn't change it. Google "marginal utility of money," sheeple fellow human beings).

But for me, his social stuff is just damning. See his fetus-centric views on reproductive rights. Being against abortion is kind of a negative for me either way, but at least try to be compassionate about why people would want abortions. I also don't see him as the type of president to promote free condoms and comprehensive sex ed, as he seems to have a big issue with people having sex out of wedlock. And that remark on complaining we've gone from Barney Fife to Barney Frank (a gay congressman who's accomplished a lot, been the head of the Senate Finance Committee, and just generally been a witty and brave politician). He can disagree with Frank's politics, but calling Frank himself an issue of our modern times is downright bigoted. And a lot of his character, we may never know because he destroyed his computers' hard drives and is trying to cover up all his sermons from his 12 year career as a minister.

So, I, as an American human, will probably not vote for American human Mike Huckabee, although my state doesn't let me vote in the primaries for the other party. I'm just worried that if Huckabee doesn't get the nod, who will? Birther celebrity Donald Trump (whatever happened to Obama being not fit to lead because he had become a celebrity?)? I get the feeling, based on name recognition and not being an embarrassment to the party at large (like Palin and the more fringe candidates), Romney or Gingrich will get the nomination. Gingrich doesn't really have that great a reputation outside the Republican party, and Romney has the issue of instituting a healthcare plan that was virtually the same as the Affordable Heathcare Act, which his base will expect him to campaign against, so that could be an issue. I think acting like the big deal is Mormonism is probably out of date. Glenn Beck's caught on with the same people we'd expect to have a problem with it the most. And I think independents and liberals don't mind a candidate's religion so long as he or she is clear that he or she will be rational.
posted by mccarty.tim at 10:33 AM on April 8, 2011


As far as I know, Stewart did that to the crossfire guys, and to Jim Cramer, and that's it.

I know you guys would love for Stewart to be some left-wing talking head, the opposite of Glen Beck or something, but his #1 mission is still making fun of the media. Crossfire and Jim Cramer and Glen Beck and Fox News are the people he really goes after. He's not a Democratic attack dog, and he never will be.

Most of his attacks on politicians are really at heart saying "Why isn't the real news media shining a light on this bullshit?"
posted by straight at 10:43 AM on April 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


In any debate, when your opponent, running short of rational arguments, forsakes civility and starts slinging mud, it is a profound mistake, if you are in the right, to follow his lead into the gutter.

I s'pose there's some question of how one defines "civility," and one can make points with intensity and what could be argued is civility--FDR's "...I welcome their hatred."--but I know this much: Whatever the Left's been doing, it ain't been working.

Feels like the Left's been bringing a Nerf sword to a knife fight.
posted by ambient2 at 11:11 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


He's not a sociopath. He's a thin-skinned famewhore.

And the worst part is that false-equivalence-artists like Jon Stewart give him all the non-confrontational airtime he wants. Stewart legitimizes people like Huckabee, to all our detriment.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:13 AM on April 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


I don't know. I agree that Stewart helps legitimize him, but he's done nothing more lavishly than what dozens of MSM outlets have done before him, with even more voluptuous lavishness. Not that makes it good or anything.
posted by blucevalo at 11:29 AM on April 8, 2011


Out of nostalgia, I re-watched the Crossfire interview with Stewart and saw him make very pointed criticisms of CNN and other MSM outlets in general, for doing the very same things he does now — namely, not holding a politician's feet to the fire.

I'm just not sure he can make the same "we follow puppets making crank calls" argument he made back then. The reality is that people who watch his show now (and Colbert's) are tuning in because he gives the impression that he criticizes from a position of integrity, not just because he makes people laugh. His show isn't just about comedy.

I don't watch him much, any more. It's kind of depressing, to see an opportunity like that get squandered.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:37 AM on April 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Seems to me the only reason you'd have a guy like this on in the first place would be to skewer him, whether for comedic or political effect. Otherwise you just ARE doing the MSM thing -- not what Stewart is supposed to be about.
posted by Trochanter at 11:38 AM on April 8, 2011


I re-watched the Crossfire interview with Stewart and saw him make very pointed criticisms of CNN and other MSM outlets in general, for doing the very same things he does now — namely, not holding a politician's feet to the fire.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart isn't a news show. It's an entertainment comedy show designed to skewer news shows and politics. It's not his job, he's always said it's not his job. The idea that TDS is a news program which should be doing hard-hitting exposés and interviews comes up all the time on MetaFilter when discussing TDS, and it's a bit silly at this point. It's wishing for the water coming out of your tap to be beer, and it's grounded in about the same amount of truth and possibility.

I'm just not sure he can make the same "we follow puppets making crank calls" argument he made back then.

No, his lead-in show now is Tosh.0. It's a step down from Crank Yankers, IMO.
posted by hippybear at 11:44 AM on April 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's an entertainment comedy show designed to skewer news shows and politics.

Then why do the softball interviews where nobody gets skewered?
posted by Trochanter at 11:49 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


So you can pair it up with footage of the same person completely contradicting themselves later?
posted by ODiV at 11:52 AM on April 8, 2011


Trochanter: Seems to me the only reason you'd have a guy like this on in the first place would be to skewer him, whether for comedic or political effect. Otherwise you just ARE doing the MSM thing -- not what Stewart is supposed to be about.

Really? I find most television "news" to be completely unwatchable because it's just a political cockfight. Throw two talking heads into the ring and goad them into yelling at each other. By the time they cut to a commercial break, I've learned nothing and gained nothing but vicarious outrage.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:53 AM on April 8, 2011


It's not his job, he's always said it's not his job.

Jon Stewart criticizes from a pedestal to make people laugh. That's his job. However, those he criticizes are in positions of power, and his branding is integrity and impartiality when making criticisms.

The idea that TDS is a news program which should be doing hard-hitting exposés and interviews comes up all the time on MetaFilter when discussing TDS, and it's a bit silly at this point.

The Daily Show is, in fact, a news or news-based program, and he has guests on his show who are news figures.

Whether he likes it or not, he decided on the format and content of his news-based show. It has become what it is.

It's wishing for the water coming out of your tap to be beer, and it's grounded in about the same amount of truth and possibility.

I'm not "wishing" for him to do anything different. I'm just disappointed that he is squandering his once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do exactly what he criticized the Crossfire hosts for not doing in no uncertain terms. He's in too deep, maybe.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:58 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry Blazecock Pileon, but when you ask a program that satirizes the news to actually be a better news outlet than the ones it is satirizing, you're doing the same as a movie director whining at a critic and saying, "Well, let's see you make a movie then!"

It is not hypocritical for Jon Stewart to expect a news show to ask Mike Huckabee harder-hitting questions than a comedy entertainment show.
posted by straight at 12:07 PM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


He should be the last person to expect it at this point.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:10 PM on April 8, 2011


So you can pair it up with footage of the same person completely contradicting themselves later?

Do they do that? I'm asking. I don't watch the show that much. I've seen him juxtapose things, but not from their own show.
posted by Trochanter at 12:21 PM on April 8, 2011


Here is a cite from Indiana University that suggests that TDS is a comedy-themed news program:

More than 20 million under-30 voters cast their ballots in the 2004 presidential election, marking the highest voter turnout for that age group in more than 12 years (Fleischer, 2004; "Under-30," 2004). As voter turnout among this age group increased, news sources of political information for these voters shifted away from the broadcast television networks and toward comedy programs such as The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Specifically, a Pew Research Center (2004a) nationwide survey found the percentage of under-30 respondents (21%) who said they relied regularly upon comedy shows such as The Daily Show with Jon Stewart for campaign information was the same as the percentage of under-30 respondents (23%) who said they regularly relied upon the television networks' evening news for campaign information.

Julia Fox, the assistant professor and principal author for the analysis had the following to say about TDS being a news source:

"We've been wringing our hands for decades that the networks aren't doing enough substance in the political coverage, so is it any real surprise that it's just as substantive?," Fox said of The Daily Show. "Our findings should allay at least some of the concerns about the growing reliance on this non-traditional source of political information, as it is just as substantive as the source that Americans have relied upon for decades.

"In an absolute sense, we should probably be concerned about both of those sources, because neither one is particularly substantive. It's a bottom-line industry and ratings-driven. We live in an 'infotainment' society, and there certainly are a number of other sources available."


To the extent that TDS is, in fact, treated as substantively as most other news sources, it makes Jon Stewart's objections less based in reality, and perhaps more based on his own melancholy over not being able to go back to his MTV days of clowning around.

Stewart may not want to be treated like a real news anchor, and he may not want to assume the responsibilities of those who produce news, and he may just prefer to do comedy, but he decided on the format of his show, and that is how his show works for some of those who watch it.

That people think TDS is a news source might arguably be an indictment of society as a whole, perhaps, but the reality is that a not-insignificant number of people get their news from him.

So if we deal with that reality, we should get to ask some questions. He can either take up the mantle and run with it, or keep clowning around. But that doesn't absolve him of criticism from those of us who see what is possible and what opportunities are being squandered.

Philosophies aside, he seems to like giving unfiltered airtime to "friendly-fascist" demagogues like Huckabee, who would smile first and jackboot later, given half a chance. That's a really dangerous thing to do, in front of a crowd that sees someone like Huckabee and is given the fact-free impression that he's not a half-bad person. And it is fact-free, because Stewart rarely bothers to ask pointed and fair questions about his guests' backgrounds. This is problematic.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:28 PM on April 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Do they do that?

It's pretty rare, but they've done it.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:32 PM on April 8, 2011


"I'm sorry but as much as I get where Stewart comes from with his "we're all Americans, we're all human beings" thing, I think its all wishful thinking and zero reality. America is too big, riven along too many lines, and awash in too much ideology for the unity that Stewart wishes for to be possible."

Sorry, but this is bullshit. Subtract the corporate-funded media narrative and most of us have more in common across party lines than we do across tax brackets. It's just a shame that we're going to have to fall so far before we realize that. When we're fighting for scraps, or fighting in the streets, the refrain needs not to be "we told you this would happen" and instead "we're in this together." You can't kill corporations, but you can bomb them back to the stone age. If the rule of law fails, we'll need to cooperate to take our country back. New Yorker and Texan. Black and White. Christian and Godless Heathen. Just remember who the targets are when the food riots come to our shores—not your neighbor. When civility fails [in our government], civility [between individuals] will be our greatest weapon. To abandon it would be foolish.

"'Connect first, then break down.'

Connect with what? Connect with someone who starts from the irrational position that who I am as a human being is invalid and worthy of legislating into criminality? No. Not gonna happen."


That's not where they're starting. Go back further. To most basic principles. What unites us as humans? What can we/do we share? And most important, what do they fear? Address and palliate the fear, like kissing a child's boo-boo, and it dissipates. The weapon, the means of control disappears. Unshackled, humanity returns.

Face it, most people believe that they're good and right-acting folks. We all do bad things, and we all have our justifications. These folks think they're doing good things. Find the reasoning, but don't attack the justifications or rationale. Don't put them on the defensive. Ask questions. Care about what they care about; reciprocity demands that they return the favor, and it often functions on a subconscious level (the same level as Fear rhetoric). Above all else, stay a good person. True evil is banal, it's inaction. The moment you say "fuck it" is the moment you have lost. That's the moment you have capitulated, have decided to go along with all that's wrong with the world.

Sorry, it's not an easy thing. But it gets easier with practice. This is life. It's not easy. Sorry, but it's just not.
posted by Eideteker at 12:51 PM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I see where you're coming from Blazecock Pileon and I agree that The Daily Show is probably a bit too friendly, but I still think they do pretty well under the circumstances. If Jon would try to interrogate Huckabee about his infidelity or some ridiculous thing he'd said and had to back down from, he'll clam up and go to some prepared statement. At least that's what I've seen politicians do often enough when faced with questions like that.

Jon engages these guys in a dialogue that we can take together with their other appearances, statements and actions to form an opinion on them. He's polite and doesn't get adversarial, but I've seen him ask some tough, on point, questions. And I've seen the interviewee dodge and spew out some canned BS in response.

Another thing to consider is the political leanings and general media literacy of the audience. If some people are taking The Daily Show seriously as a source of political information, and I don't doubt that that's true, I would bet that there is very little crossover between them and people who would vote for Huckabee.
posted by ODiV at 12:52 PM on April 8, 2011


Subtract the corporate-funded media narrative and most of us have more in common across party lines than we do across tax brackets

This is the Jon Stewart thesis, and I think its wrong. You added the Marxist twist.

There's lots of different ways to slice an entity as big and diverse as the US. Marxist style class division is one valid way, but its just one of many. It seems to be the only one that you admit. I suppose our view of human nature is different.

My view is that, were class divisions to magically disappear, the country would be no closer to unity. North vs South, Urban vs Rural, fundamentalist Christian vs everyone else, WASP vs everyone else, other race divisions. These are just as real as class, and they will tear us apart just as efficiently.

America gets along with itself just fine when astounding growth papers over the differences - its when we stagnate economically that the worn fabric of the country starts to crack for real.
posted by tempythethird at 1:07 PM on April 8, 2011


Well, technically, the news-comedy format had already been in place for two and a half years before Stewart was ever associated with The Daily Show. The show did become more overtly political in content once Stewart and that guy from The Onion took over and started reshaping it, but the basic premise has been in place from the beginning.

But all that aside, Stewart does challenge Huckabee quite a bit in this interview. About that David Barton historian guy and the whole "christian founding" crap (which they spend a large portion if not the majority of the extended interview on, with Stewart refuting Huckabee's points non-stop often with specific references)... About constitutionalism (with Stewart calling it more articles of confederationalism)... About how Huckabee speaks different languages to different crowds and soft-sells his theocratic leanings depending on the audience he's addressing...

Stewart goes out of his way to push Huckabee into rhetorical corners, calls out his false arguments and bad equivalencies directly, quotes Huckabee's words from speeches he's made at him, confronts him directly about his Christian Nation aspirations...

I guess I'm not sure what people who say this is too softball of an interview would want. Some kind of major gotcha, where Huckabee flees from the studio in embarrassment? Spittle-flecked shouting-down of Huckabee's talking points? I mean, the guy was forced to try to defend his agenda against Stewart's well-expressed challenges for nearly a half-hour, and came across sounding like a religious partisan hack.

Really, what should have happened during this interview to make this conform to your unrequited desires?
posted by hippybear at 1:23 PM on April 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Really, what should have happened during this interview to make this conform to your unrequited desires?

I wasn't really the one making the points about Stewart being too soft, and I think I'm starting to belabor my point, so briefly: This particular interview was ok - what bugs me about Stewart is his position that if the media were to just get more substantive and hype divisions a little less, the country would be more civil and functional. And its delusional, the media is symptom, not cause.
posted by tempythethird at 1:30 PM on April 8, 2011


Vintage Zappa on Crossfire. Although Novak and Laughlin keep trying to make it personal, Zappa keeps bringing it back to principles, and he stands by those principles.

My view is that, were class divisions to magically disappear, the country would be no closer to unity. North vs South, Urban vs Rural, fundamentalist Christian vs everyone else, WASP vs everyone else, other race divisions. These are just as real as class, and they will tear us apart just as efficiently.

The United States is more closely bound together than it has ever been in history. Culturally you have a national mass-media. Economically it's tied together by decentralized industry and agriculture critically dependent on interstate, rail, information, and maritime shipping networks. I just can't see another civil war happening on this side of an ugly peak-oil singularity.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:32 PM on April 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think it's worthwhile to distinguish civility as a pragmatic strategy from civility as something deserved.

I was staring at a famous photo from the civil rights era the other day. At a counter were three or four black college students, drinking milkshakes and conversing with each other. Behind them, filling the rest of the restaurant, were about 100 white kids, smiling, joking, leaning over the black kids, pouring ketchup in their hair and taunts in their ears. That was an example of civility as a pragmatic strategy, but which those white kids -- like millions of other whites in the south then -- did not remotely deserve.

Like George Wallace say, Mike Huckabee does not remotely deserve civility. But is civility still a pragmatic advantage? It depends on the strategic situation. Undeserved civility was clearly an excellent strategy during the civil rights era, however infuriating it must have been to practice it. By my lights, Obama's civility towards the right is pragmatically excessive, leading to a weakened bargaining position time after time (alternatively, of course, Obama may just be to the right of what I had thought, rather than being pragmatically inept). Where is Huckabee on this spectrum of pragmatic utility right now?

It seems to me that, strategically, right now is a very good time not to be civil towards him, particularly if you are someone like Jon Stewart. Civility was useful during the civil rights era for showing just how hideous the racists were, but that's only because there were millions of semi-racist whites who wanted blacks to look unthreatening before they would help pass legislation. I don't see any equivalent now; Stewart is not drawing in any fence-sitting centrists by appearing civil toward the hateful right, and no one in the media is looking to him to set an example. Maybe Obama is, I don't know, but not Stewart.

On the contrary, Huckabee at this stage is still quite vulnerable -- primary candidacies collapse all the time at this stage of the game. I think Stewart would be much more pragmatically useful were he looking for any chink in the hatemonger's armor to make him look vulnerable or crazy, and those chinks are better found (on a comedy show) through well-planned japes than through bland discourse. But that's just my take; others may think there could be good payoffs to a pragmatic civility here. But the main point is, it's just pragmatism: bigots who hate gays, atheists and women do not deserve such civility.
posted by chortly at 1:43 PM on April 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Vintage Zappa on Crossfire. Although Novak and Laughlin keep trying to make it personal, Zappa keeps bringing it back to principles, and he stands by those principles.

That was great to see, thanks.
posted by ODiV at 1:48 PM on April 8, 2011


I mean, the guy was forced to try to defend his agenda against Stewart's well-expressed challenges for nearly a half-hour, and came across sounding like a religious partisan hack.

I don't think this interview was that bad. As I said above the point of political humor/satire is to expose the truth, and as far as Huck goes religious partisan hack is the truth.

It's just that this is old news. Everyone knows that about Huck. If you want to try and get something new out of him, you have to push beyond and really try and illustrate how a nice personality isn't the same as being nice. Confront him more with his record on executions and really push there, and yeah, get mean and spittley about it. I want to see how Huck reacts to that.

Affability only works as a dodge if the other side is going to be affable too.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:03 PM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


"My view is that, were class divisions to magically disappear, the country would be no closer to unity. North vs South, Urban vs Rural, fundamentalist Christian vs everyone else, WASP vs everyone else, other race divisions. These are just as real as class, and they will tear us apart just as efficiently."

If you're focused on division, then you can always find ways to divide. I'd rather focus on building up than tearing down.

"Mike Huckabee does not remotely deserve civility."

As Edgewise said, you're not being civil to him for him. It's not about what he deserves. It's not for him.
posted by Eideteker at 2:10 PM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's kind of pointless to have a proxy argument about being civil with Huckabee. None of us here are debating him or are in positions where incivility (to a reasonable extent, that is) will have much of any impact on his comportment either way.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:17 PM on April 8, 2011


Is it? Aren't we debating about the general level of discourse, political and otherwise, one should maintain with someone you don't agree with?
posted by Eideteker at 2:28 PM on April 8, 2011


Here is a cite from Indiana University that suggests that TDS is a comedy-themed news program

I'm sorry, but a study showing that lots of young people think TDS is a news program doesn't demonstrate anything about what TDS "really" is, it just shows that a bunch of young people don't know the difference between comedy and news.

If some people get more actual information from TDS than they do from real TV news programs, that just means those news programs suck. It doesn't prove that TDS is "really" a news program.
posted by straight at 3:37 PM on April 8, 2011


It comes down to the fact that TDS is more reliable and accurate than lots of things we call news. Fox, for example. It's not a compliment for TDS, just a look around at what our society calls news. Forget the dictionary definition.

It's all newsotainment, TDS entertains with comedy and Fox does it with rage and validation.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:41 PM on April 8, 2011


I'm sorry, but a study showing that lots of young people think TDS is a news program doesn't demonstrate anything about what TDS "really" is

If academic studies show, statistically, that a group of people are treating the TDS as a news source, then it behooves us to acknowledge the factual reality of that and treat the TDS as a news source, even over the strenuous objections of its lead anchorperson.

The Daily Show is part of the media, along with all the consequences and baggage that implies.

(Unless the study is flawed, somehow, which I don't think has been proposed as a counterargument.)

it just shows that a bunch of young people don't know the difference between comedy and news

That could well be true, but that still doesn't contradict the fact that a certain group of people who watch TDS treat that show as a valid source of information, despite a supposed inability to discern information from infotainment.

Stewart can talk about Crank Yankers all he wants, but he designed his show in such a way that people watch it to be informed, as well as entertained. He is no longer just a comedian, any more.

Again, unless the study was flawed, we need to acknowledge that fact in the larger discussion, even if it contradicts the opinions of a few.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:12 PM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


That could well be true, but that still doesn't contradict the fact that a certain group of people who watch TDS treat that show as a valid source of information

At least when The Who called Tommy an opera, it was them who were naming it such. Surely artists are allowed to define what their art is, regardless of how others interpret it?
posted by hippybear at 4:53 PM on April 8, 2011


I think that's a bit of an odd comparison, and I'm not sure how it relates. TDS is not a singular work of art, like a painting or opera. It's just a nightly television program that happens to be measurably informative to a group of people who watch it, even if the guy who heads it thinks people should be getting their info somewhere else.

make this conform to your unrequited desires?

That's a bit unfair, too. We can have a discussion centered around some facts we can agree on and then leave the personal stuff at that, I think.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:05 PM on April 8, 2011


Amazing there's a derail about civility when the GOP is right this moment doing the most uncivil thing imaginable by shutting down the government in a act of petty political posturing. The grandstanding and arrogant obstructionism of the Republican Party should come as no surprise however--they have long since proven they are wholly incapable of civility or honest political engagement.
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 6:25 PM on April 8, 2011


That could well be true, but that still doesn't contradict the fact that a certain group of people who watch TDS treat that show as a valid source of information,

Lots of people think astrology and palm reading are "valid sources of information" that doesn't make them news either.

I can glean bits of information about the events of the day by eavesdropping at the local coffee shop. So yeah, you could technically call that a "news source," but to turn around and claim that my coffee shop therefore has some sort of responsibility to be a good news source just because that's the only place I bother to get any information about world events would be ridiculous.
posted by straight at 6:36 PM on April 8, 2011


We can have a discussion centered around some facts we can agree on and then leave the personal stuff at that, I think.

I think if you're taking my phrase "unrequited desires" as being ultra-personal, you're being disingenuous about the discussion. You've used words like "disappointed" and "squandered", and talked about being someone who "sees what is possible" from TDS and Stewart....

If those aren't words speaking directly to having distinct wants about what the show should deliver and feeling like those wants haven't been met, then I'm not sure what you've been talking about this whole time.

If you don't want to answer the question, or don't have a good answer, then say so. But saying that my question was somehow too personal? That's just a bullshit avoidance tactic hoping to distract from what I was actually asking.

And I'll ask it again with different words if that makes you more comfortable:

What should have happened during Stewart's interview with Huckabee which didn't happen that would have somehow satisfied your interests in the context of his show and that interview?

And I'll link back to my comment from which comes the question you're dodging as being too personal so you can get the rest of the context.
posted by hippybear at 6:52 PM on April 8, 2011


What should have happened during Stewart's interview with Huckabee which didn't happen that would have somehow satisfied your interests in the context of his show and that interview?

How about: "Do you sir, believe that Christ preached against the minimum wage? Because, sir, that view is worthy of ridicule. It's ridiculously bad economics and it's ridiculously bad theology. It's indicative of a capacity for bad thinking. Are you stupid, or are you capitalizing cynically on the stupidity of others? And, have you stopped beating your wife?"
posted by Trochanter at 7:23 PM on April 8, 2011


It seems like ultimately, Huckabee is choosing to cater to the Tea Party crowd. Shame. If he had only chosen to distinguish his fiscal policies from the rest of the GOP, he could have truly made a difference. Southern governors, after all, are no strangers to state intervention and economic populism. If he wasn't trying to win over the Tea Party base, he could perhaps truly create a realignment within the GOP. Why is it that the U.S. never had a Christian democratic movement, while Europe and Latin America have?
posted by Apocryphon at 1:29 AM on April 9, 2011


I think because the US version of the Christian Democrats ended up doing things like Prohibition.

Our Puritan background makes it impossible for us to apply Christian principles to anything without either tending toward theocratic despotism or severe othering. If a CDP were to come into power here, the market for large embroidered letters made to be affixed to clothing would boom.
posted by hippybear at 4:58 AM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


We obsess about "Puritanism" but that is far more part of our present national mythology than our past. The Puritans were in only a few places and their culture ultimately wasn't that ascendant. Pennsylvania and Rhode Island are both northern religious communities that were definitely not Puritan. As for the South and the Mid-Atlantic? It's all out there. However, Nathanial Hawthorn didn't write novels about Anglicans so somehow this idea of the United States founded as a Puritan nation has become pretty much well accepted.

There's plenty of Christian Democratic movements in the history of the United States. While Prohibition is one aspect about it (and not without laudable reason), the desire to make schools and prisons better and to abolish work houses would fall into that same movement. The anti-war sentiments of the 1910's–1930's were too. Sending aid to other countries still is. City programs to protect children. Salvation Army-esque initiatives Many of these are strongly supported both by the religious and liberal and religious liberals. There's a lot of potential for Christian Democrats to come to the forefront here as they certainly have in the past. The movement was basically neutered in the 60's and 70's as the Republicans really cast themselves as the Party of the Pious while the Democrats didn't do much to counter. There is hope though for those interested in spearheading a new movement. It's not for the faint of heart though.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 11:51 AM on April 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think partly this is due to the high levels of religiosity of American Protestantism compared to European Catholicism (and Protestantism). While I'm sure European CDPs are traditionalist, I doubt any would take the sort of strident movements similar to American anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, etc. Ultimately, I think that a popular CD movement in 21st century America would look less like Jim Wallis and progressive evangelicals like him, and more like a movement with the social conservatism of Huckabee and the opposite of the fiscal policies advocated by the Tea Party. In short, not Huckabee himself, who supported the FairTax in 2008.

Actually, come to think of it, maybe a CD movement could arise from Hispanic Americans becoming more of a political force and bringing Catholic social theory into the U.S. mainstream.
posted by Apocryphon at 1:54 PM on April 9, 2011


Wow. I'm going to wade into this with a couple caveats.

If Huckabee has any political viability it will be in his internal dialogue with his base, and not with liberals. There is no liberal who would ever vote for him, ever. So when he speaks, he's not actually engaging those who don't vote for him. He's reminding his base he's part of their (crazy) tribe. If an economic populist, or even anybody who can add, comes out of that, I'm pleased.

The only real place we have evidence of his political choices are when, in my view, he had actual political power. And that was when he was governor of Arkansas. That is the primary place he should be judged. The evidence indicates he was much more political, and less ideological, than those influenced by the tea party. I simply think that what he says is generally irrelevant, and gives only partial clues to how he would govern.

My question: how did Huckabee enage the opposition in Arkansas? Was he more like Scott Walker? Or did he compromise? Did he raise taxes? Or did he send poor children to the wolves? That's a little more interesting to me.

I suspect Huckabee would disappoint plenty because he has the intellectual chops to, when necessary, challenge it on biblical grounds. There are good reasons why other Republicans find him to be highly suspicious and probably a RINO. In fact, I suspect the reasons he won't get the nomination have more to do with his economic populism than any other.

I would like to also add that civility one way the masters tell the servants how to speak. I say as someone who also nonetheless prizes that same virtue.
posted by john wilkins at 7:54 PM on April 9, 2011


Huckabee Endorses Ohio’s Anti-Abortion ‘Heartbeat’ Bill
posted by homunculus at 10:02 AM on April 12, 2011


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