The PJ Tatler

Huckabee Breaks from Pack on Confederate Flag

The vile killing of nine black people at a church in Charleston has ignited fresh debate over the display of the Confederate battle flag on South Carolina’s capitol grounds. The question was presented over the weekend to several candidates seeking the Republican nomination for president.

Most tread gently in their replies, unwilling to take a definitive stance. One candidate, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, broke from the pack. From the Associated Press:

“Everyone’s being baited with this question as if somehow that has anything to do whatsoever with running for president,” Huckabee said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” ”My position is it most certainly does not.”

While other candidates offered generic deference to “the people of South Carolina,” Huckabee took a bolder stance, framing the issue in the context of the office he seeks. It shouldn’t matter what the president thinks a state ought to do in a matter that falls outside federal jurisdiction. As a candidate for president, expressing an opinion one way or the other implies federal intervention. It’s one thing to say the Confederate flag issue should be decided by the people of South Carolina. It’s another to specify why. By doing so, Huckabee stood out.