In an interview with The Atlantic‘s Emma Green, Mike Huckabee opens up about President Trump as well as plans for his new TV show that will be airing on the Trinity Broadcast Network. Well, “opens up” is a relative term. One of the earliest supporters of Trump, Huckabee spends much of the interview turning Green’s pointed questions about the mismatched relationship between Trump and evangelicals into talking points for the Trump administration. Much of the interview reads as if Huckabee were part of Trump’s communications team.
Considering that the supposed intention for the interview is to promote his new TV show, it’s odd that Huckabee didn’t take the opportunity to demonstrate his ability to be objective. One would think that the host of an interview show would want to play down his biases, especially considering that Huckabee’s first guest on his show will be none other than President Trump. It’s clear from The Atlantic interview that the first episode will be nothing more than a rah-rah 2020 campaign stop. Which, I guess, is exactly what the average viewer of TBN wants. Maybe Huckabee simply knows which way his bread is buttered.
And therein lies the problem.
Much of what passes for public discourse these days is nothing more than pep-rally style bullet points intended to loudly bounce around the speakers’ respective echo chambers. Huckabee puts on a master class demonstration of this in the interview conducted by Emma Green.
By way of example, take this question from Green and then note Huckabee’s dodge:
Do you have any concerns about the evangelical Christians who might disagree with what you just outlined? Those who see President Trump’s comments on immigrants, his choice to take away DACA, his comments about women and sexual assault, and feel alienated from both the Republican Party and their fellow Christians who voted for Trump in droves?
Green’s question is not only valid, it also gets to a festering problem within conservative evangelicalism. Christians, of all people, should be more concerned with the fracturing of the Church than they are with temporal politics. Not Mike Huckabee, though. His response ignores Green’s actual question and instead defends Trump’s character and policies.
The first part of his response focuses on Trump and DACA. I happen to agree with Huckabee’s assessment of Trump’s actions on DACA, but he didn’t touch the larger question of why some conservative evangelicals were so quick to condemn Trump at the outset of the president’s action on DACA. Huckabee then concludes by blustering,
And then on women, I mean—I’m not sure when people say it’s not been clear, whatever, on sexual assault. What has he said, as president, what has he done as president, that has been anything other than respectful of women? I don’t know.
Emma Green does an admirable job of trying to steer Huckabee back to her actual question, but he’s much too slick of a politician to comply.
After Huckabee answers a different question from the one she’s asked, Green pushes back with:
The question that I’m asking is less about defending President Trump and more about actual people. When you look out at your flock in your church, people who share your same conviction and your same faith, who feel troubled and hurt by our political climate and specifically by the actions and comments of the president, are you concerned for your church?
Huckabee responds by downplaying any concerns Christians may have over Trump’s moral qualifications to lead this country.
Whether Huckabee’s overall assessment of President Trump is correct or not, there are many evangelicals who feel betrayed by men and women whom they looked up to spiritually and morally who now support a man that they believe is morally unfit to hold the office of POTUS. Those evangelicals need more than rehashed talking points in response to interview questions that they believe to be relevant. The longer this unwillingness to robustly and honestly engage criticism about President Trump goes on, the more fractured the conservative church in America is going to become.
Mike Huckabee makes some excellent points in the interview with The Atlantic. Sadly, due to Huckabee’s overall tone and his continued unwillingness to acknowledge that others might have a valid perspective, those excellent points are only going to be heard by those who already believe them.