Leader Blues

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

EDITORIAL >> So long Mike, Janet

Tell us it isn’t so! The morning prints reported yesterday that Mike and Janet Huckabee have adopted Florida as their home and have moved into a $1 million rental abode in Miramar Beach, a resort community on a narrow spine of land between the Gulf of Mexico and Choctawatchee Bay. They are nestled among four championship golf courses.

By declaring themselves as domiciliaries of Florida, the Huckabees will not have to pay Arkansas income taxes on Mike’s high six-figure income from Fox News and book royalties, but we are sure that had nothing to do with their decision to become Floridians. Actually, only Janet Huckabee has made it official that she is a Floridian. A spokesman for the former governor, the daughter who is running the Arkansas Senate campaign of John Boozman, wouldn’t say whether her dad was an official Floridian or an Arkansawyer.

They still own the stately home that they bought in Shady Valley just west of us after he left office in January 2007. But we are quite sure that the couple who repeated their vows in a celebrated covenant marriage would never be separated even by a legal distinction.

This poses a dilemma for Arkansas media such as us, who give inordinate attention to the exploits of Arkansawyers who have moved on to the national stage. If Mike Huckabee is not an Arkansawyer but a Floridian, do we continue to mark the sparrow’s fall when he utters a banality or falsehood in some eastern venue, such as a Fox telecast or column, or when another criminal that he freed while he was governor goes on a killing spree outside our borders? We don’t do that with, say, Sarah Palin or Mark Sanford or Mitt Romney.

Were he not a Floridian, for example, we would take note of Huckabee’s interview this week in which he equated gay and lesbian people with drug users, polygamists and people who have sex with their sisters, brothers and children and opined that people who did not believe in a god live completely devoid of morals. Or the column he wrote for Fox the other day praising the idea of a national sales tax, which he said would be wonderful because prostitutes, pimps, bookies and drug dealers would be required to collect a big sales tax from their customers and remit it to the federal treasury. (Imagine the federal bureaucracy that would be needed to enforce that rule.)

See, wherever his abode is, the man is just too interesting to ignore.

It has been our habit to mark the governor’s philosophical pilgrimage after he left the Arkansas Capitol. For nearly 10 years he was a pragmatic and often compassionate if slightly quirky public servant. He raised taxes over and over to improve education, vastly expanded government-paid health care to the poor (he called it socialism when President Obama tried it), employed a wildly liberal policy toward long-term inmates of the penitentiary and tried to enlarge the rights of immigrants living illegally among us before a Democratic legislature beat him down.

But nothing he says or writes anymore reminds you of that incarnation. We think it is important for purely scholastic reasons that we record the philosophical journey of this modern prodigal.

No matter where he pays or avoids taxes and registers to vote, until Mike Huckabee is caught wearing a Florida Gators cap, he is going to be an Arkansawyer to us. —E.D.