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Monday, June 11, 2007

Rash, Devious, Incapable Of Admitting Error

by digby

Following up on my post about Huckabee, below, I was pointed to this column by Arkansas homeboy Gene Lyons that smartly reminds everyone how well Huckabee would fit in with the soft on crime Republicans in Washington:

Becoming governor after Kenneth Starr convicted Democrat Jim Guy Tucker, Huckabee executed a classic Clintonian straddle. A Baptist preacher invulnerable from the right, he took progressive stances on education reform and Medicaid insurance for poor children—made possible by former President Clinton’s policies. Contrary to Huckabee’s claims, however, taxes and government employment rose steadily during his decade in office, along with the state’s population.

Even so, what’s more likely to prevent him from succeeding in national politics is Huckabee’s role in the appalling saga of Wayne DuMond.

DuMond was the Arkansas celebrity inmate of the 1990s. Convicted of raping a Forrest City high school cheerleader at knife point in 1985, he became famous for two reasons.

First, somebody castrated him while he was free on bond awaiting trial. (Local investigators said they suspected drunken self-mutilation, not unknown among sex offenders.) Worse, the local sheriff exhibited DuMond’s testicles in a jar of formaldehyde, an Arkansas-gothic stunt triggering rumors of vigilante justice.

Second, DuMond’s victim, who’d recognized her attacker on the street weeks after the crime, was a distant cousin of Clinton. That excited the kinds of conspiracy nuts who circulated Clinton “death lists.” They portrayed DuMond as a victim of the Clinton machine’s satanic wrath. His innocence became an article of faith on the fruitcake right.

Huckabee came into office talking about pardoning DuMond, citing “serious questions as to the legitimacy of his guilt.” He did that without consulting the prosecutor, who described the case as one of the strongest he’d ever tried. If nothing else, what were the odds that the victim would have identified, purely by chance, a perp with an extensive rap sheet? DuMond’s criminal history included arrests for murder and assault as well as other allegations of rape. He’d beaten the murder rap by testifying against two accomplices he’d helped beat a soldier to death with a claw hammer. The rape cases never came to trial. Young Ashley Stevens’ courageous eyewitness testimony, however, sent him to the penitentiary. After Stevens went public in 1997, Huckabee relented somewhat. Instead of pardoning DuMond, he held an improper closed-door meeting with the state’s parole board, which subsequently reversed itself, paroling DuMond to Missouri. Huckabee claimed the board brought up DuMond; some board members insisted that he did. Huckabee wrote a “Dear Wayne” letter, stating, “My desire is that you be released from prison. I feel that parole is the best way for your reintroduction into society to take place.”

In June 2001, DuMond was charged with the murder of a Kansas City area woman, exactly as some of us predicted. Police found his DNA under the victim’s fingernails. Stevens said that when she heard the news on her car radio, she had to pull off the highway until she’d cried herself out. Convicted of first-degree murder, Du-Mond died in prison in 2005. No sooner was his Missouri arrest announced than Huckabee began blaming everybody in Arkansas except himself. “I think you guys are being played like a cheap fiddle by the Democrats,” he complained to reporters. “They’re trying to make a Willie Horton out of it. And if anybody needs to get a Willie Horton out of it, it’s Jim Guy Tucker and the Democrat Party, and it ain’t me.” His recent book,“From Hope to Higher Ground,”claims that DuMond died in Missouri before coming to trial. He even blames Clinton, who played no role whatsoever in the affair, whining that the Arkansas “tabloid press” has mischaracterized his actions. That’s Huckabee at his worst: rash, devious, incapable of admitting error, a crybaby and definitely not, I submit, presidential material.

Like George W. Bush smart-ass mockery of a death row inmate before the the 2000 election, Huckabee's extremely nasty little one-liners in this campaign are sure signs that he is still very much in tune with the same talk radio ditto-heads who were sure that Wayne Dumond was being railroaded, which is not surprising for someone running for the GOP nomination. The problem is that Huckabee has a record of actually acting on those nutzoid wingnut conspiracy theories and that makes him unfit to be president.