March 19, 2014

Wyoming Republican legislator Troy Mader made headlines this weekend with news that he stands by his 1987 book, The Death Sentence of AIDS: Vital Information For You and Your Family's Health and Safety. Ironically, the very same year Mader called for a quarantine of AIDS victims, President Ronald Reagan publicly rejected that kind of dangerous demagoguery, declaring "the Public Health Service has stated that there's no medical reason for barring a person with the virus from any routine school or work activity."

Which is why former Arkansas Governor and potential 2016 GOP White House hopeful Mike Huckabee still has a lot of explaining to do. After all, in 1992--five years after Reagan's long overdue statement on stage with Elizabeth Taylor--Mike Huckabee urged quarantining victims and cutting federal funding to fight the disease.

As the Washington Post reported in December 2007, in 1992 then Senate hopeful Mike Huckabee advocated the isolation of AIDS patients. Labeling homosexuality "an aberrant, unnatural, and sinful lifestyle" which could "pose a dangerous public health risk," Huckabee called for draconian - and discriminatory - action:

"If the federal government is truly serious about doing something with the AIDS virus, we need to take steps that would isolate the carriers of this plague.

It is difficult to understand the public policy towards AIDS. It is the first time in the history of civilization in which the carriers of a genuine plague have not been isolated from the general population, and in which this deadly disease for which there is no cure is being treated as a civil rights issue instead of the true health crisis it represents.

In light of the extraordinary funds already being given for AIDS research, it does not seem that additional federal spending can be justified. An alternative would be to request that multimillionaire celebrities, such as Elizabeth Taylor (,) Madonna and others who are pushing for more AIDS funding be encouraged to give out of their own personal treasuries increased amounts for AIDS research."

Confronted by the media, the surprise GOP frontrunner (who would go on the win the 2008 Iowa caucus) protested:

"Fifteen years ago, the AIDS crisis was just that, a crisis. There was still a great deal of, I think, uncertainty about just how widespread AIDS was, how it could be transmitted. So we know more now than we did in 1992, all of us do -- hopefully."

For Mike Huckabee, a man who likened himself to Ronald Reagan during the 2008 GOP primaries, that was an awfully bizarre comment to make. After all, even with his own horrible record when it came to combatting AIDS, President Reagan on May 31, 1987 debunked every myth Mike Huckabee would try to perpetuate five years later. At a dinner honoring the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR). Reagan refuted every point Huckabee would later make, even anticipating the kind of faith-based fear-mongering the former minister would later offer up:

"As dangerous and deadly as AIDS is, many of the fears surrounding it are unfounded. These fears are based on ignorance. I was told of a newspaper photo of a baby in a hospital crib with a sign that said, 'AIDS -- Do Not Touch.' Fortunately, that photo was taken several years ago, and we now know there's no basis for this kind of fear. But similar incidents are still happening elsewhere in this country. I read of one man with AIDS who returned to work to find anonymous notes on his desk with such messages as, 'Don't use our water fountain.' I was told of a situation in Florida where 3 young brothers -- ages 10, 9, and 7 -- were all hemophiliacs carrying the AIDS virus. The pastor asked the entire family not to come back to their church. Ladies and gentlemen, this is old-fashioned fear, and it has no place in the home of the brave.

The Public Health Service has stated that there's no medical reason for barring a person with the virus from any routine school or work activity. There's no reason for those who carry the AIDS virus to wear a scarlet A. AIDS is not a casually contagious disease...

...In addition to all the private and corporate research underway here at home and around the world, this fiscal year the federal government plans to spend $317 million on AIDS research and $766 million overall. Next year we intend to spend 30 percent more on research: $413 million out of $1 billion overall. Spending on AIDS has been one of the fastest growing parts of the budget, and, ladies and gentlemen, it deserves to be."

Governor Huckabee's extremism, as Reagan rightly anticipated, indeed "has no place in the home of the brave." And Mike Huckabee has no place in the White House.

Even if he does have one new friend in Wyoming.

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