With the GOP primary in South Carolina coming tomorrow, the temptation for culture-war pandering is apparently a little too strong for some candidates
January 17, 2008

With the GOP primary in South Carolina coming tomorrow, the temptation for culture-war pandering is apparently a little too strong for some candidates.

“You don’t like people from outside the state coming in and telling you what to do with your flag,” Mr. Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas, told supporters in Myrtle Beach, according to The Associated Press.

“In fact,” he said, “if somebody came to Arkansas and told us what to do with our flag, we’d tell them what to do with the pole; that’s what we’d do.” […]

And a radio advertisement paid for by an independent group used the flag issue to attack Mr. McCain, of Arizona, and praise Mr. Huckabee. “John McCain assaults our values,” it said. “Mike Huckabee understands the value of heritage.”

First, I can appreciate the fact that McCain is vulnerable on the issue. Before the 2000 campaign, McCain didn’t support the Confederate flag. Before the South Carolina primary, he switched, endorsing the flag. After the primary, he switched back, saying his pre-primary position was an “act of political cowardice.” If Huckabee wants to point that out, it’s certainly fair game, but that clearly wasn’t the message yesterday.

Second, Huckabee certainly has a unique approach to federalism. On the one hand, the federal government should have minimal input on state laws. On the other, Huckabee wants to redo the Constitution to bring it in line with “God’s standards,” limiting states’ rights on marriage equality and reproductive rights.

And third, in the 21st century, do we still need to use a Civil War battle flag as red meat for far-right Republicans?

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