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Huckabee reads Bible in campaign ad. (AP)

Eight questions reporters should ask Huckabee

ASK THIS | January 17, 2008

Todd Gitlin is struck by the significant questions that go unasked -- or at least not asked very often or insistently -- of the major presidential candidates.

Reposted with permission from cjr.org.

By Todd Gitlin

The campaign lurches along under more journalistic surveillance than ever before, but like other observers I’m often struck by questions — significant questions, in my estimation — that go unasked, or at least not asked very often or insistently. Of course, since I don’t read everything, it’s hard to know whether someone, sometime, has asked a given question of a given candidate. But if you think the public has the right to answers, and concede that only small slivers of the public are paying attention at any given time, it follows that significant or revelatory questions need to be asked more than once.

Here are some questions for the Republican candidate and former governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee. In the coming weeks, I’ll be posing questions for others, alternating Democrats and Republicans. Next: Barack Obama.

Questions for Mike Huckabee

1. In an interview on the Rev. Kenneth Copeland’s television show, “Believer’s Voice of Victory,” posted on his Web site, you said the following: “If we see any part of our society and culture that’s decaying, what’s going to keep it from rotting? The Christians. God’s people.” Do you believe that people who are not Christians are not “God’s people”?

2. In this same interview you referred to “God’s absolutes.” Could you tell us what “God’s absolutes” are?

3. You support a flat sales tax of 23 percent to replace all existing federal taxes, and you insist that its total effects will be “revenue-neutral.” Since lower-income people pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes than higher-income people, the result of your plan would be that a higher percentage of total taxes collected would be paid by lower-income people. Do you think this proposal is compatible with Christian beliefs? As a Christian, do you think it is consonant with the principles of Jesus to support the abolition of taxes on capital gains and interest?

4. In your book, From Hope to Higher Ground, you wrote: “Wal-Mart is a case study in the genius of the American marketplace.” Yet despite some recent improvements, most of Wal-Mart’s employees were not covered by the company’s health insurance. (Another round of improvements scheduled for January 2008 still requires an annual premium of $2,000 for a company whose employees often earn less than $20,000.) Moreover, the company has been forced to pay more than $200 million to employees they forced to work off the clock, and according to the Web site Walmartwatch.com, “Wal-Mart is currently facing the largest workplace-bias lawsuit in U.S. history for widespread discrimination against women employees; a class action lawsuit filed by African-American truck drivers; and numerous other cases involving discrimination against workers with disabilities.” What is your reaction?

5. Speaking about the children of illegal immigrants, you said recently that “we’re a better country than to punish children for what their parents did.” Today, the children of poor people are penalized for their parents’ poverty. Obviously, they inherit less. Their schools are inferior. So are their job prospects. What would you do about this?

6. The other day, you said this: “Long before God ever created a government structure, the basic structure was the family.” When did God create a government structure? Did He create the government of the United States? Did He create the government of Iran? Pakistan? Afghanistan? Iraq? Did He create the government of Stalinist Russia or Nazi Germany? If not, who did?

7. There are many Biblical verses that support female submissiveness. Do you agree with them?

8. “I would love to see a human life amendment to our constitution,” you said last September. “Human life begins at conception.” According to some physicians, intrauterine devices (IUDs), emergency contraception (the “morning after pill,” or “Plan B”), the pill, the patch, and the Depo-Provera shot may work by preventing the implantation of fertilized eggs—after conception. Does this mean that you support the banning not only of abortion but of any or all of these methods of contraception?

[Research assistance by Michael Meyer.]

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