In politics, announcements held until late on a Friday afternoon tend to be part of a low-key strategy: this is the time to release news you don’t want the public to know.
It came as a bit of a surprise, then, when former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) said late Friday that he would disclose his plans for the 2016 presidential race on May 5. This wasn’t an announcement, so much as it was an announcement about an announcement (at which point, the far-right Arkansan may or may not make an announcement).
Huckabee continued to act like a candidate over the weekend, sticking to the usual script in New Hampshire, but it was something the former governor said late last week that was more striking.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee claimed in an interview with Iowa talk radio host Jan Mickelson [Thursday] that the Obama administration has “an open hostility toward the Christian faith,” and urged prospective military recruits to wait until the end of President Obama’s term to enlist. […]“There’s nothing more honorable than serving one’s country and there’s no greater heroes to our country than our military,” he responded, “but I might suggest to parents, I’d wait a couple of years until we get a new commander-in-chief that will once again believe ‘one nation under god’ and believe that people of faith should be a vital part of the process of not only governing this country, but defending this country.”
It’s extraordinarily unusual for a presidential candidate, in either party, to publicly discourage enlistment in the United States military. For a candidate to do so while American military forces are engaged in combat operations overseas is arguably unprecedented.
Huckabee justified his position by arguing, without proof, that the Obama administration is openly “hostile” towards Christians, which leads the Republican to believe Christians, at least for now, should steer clear of military service.
“Why would they want to be in a military that would be openly hostile and not just simply bring some scorn to their faith, but would punish them for it?” Huckabee added.
If the Republican had any a legitimate case to make about anti-Christian discrimination, it would still be genuinely bizarre to hear a would-be president publicly suggest Americans not enlist in the military. But Huckabee’s rhetoric is even more outlandish given that this anti-Christian discrimination is largely imaginary.
In other words, the GOP personality isn’t just discouraging enlistment; he’s doing so based on conditions that don’t exist.
In case this isn’t already obvious, the U.S. military is an all-volunteer force. It exists and thrives because servicemen and women choose to wear the uniform. To tell Americans not to enlist – until 2017 at the earliest – is to effectively undermine the nation’s security needs for the next 21 months.
Should Huckabee proceed with another national campaign, this seems like the sort of controversy that will require an explanation.