Funny story: in 2005, Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee signed a law mandating Arkansas insurance plans provide contraception coverage, including church-affiliated organizations such as hospitals and universities.
Nine years ago, Huckabee thought that the government should ensure that everyone had access to contraception. In fact, as the Los Angeles Times detailed in 2012, all sorts of Republicans were happily embracing contraception coverage mandates in the days of Bush and Clinton.
Republican politician/preacher/media-personality Mike Huckabee caused quite a stir yesterday, speaking at the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting and sharing some unusual thoughts on contraception access, libidos, and “Uncle Sugar.” The remarks were plainly offensive, but in an interesting twist, they were also ironic.
Huckabee’s argument was an extended rant against contraception access through the Affordable Care Act. The Arkansan believes Democrats are “insulting” women by making birth control and other preventive health care services accessible without a co-pay. Democrats, Huckabee insisted, want women to believe “they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control, because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government.”
On a substantive level, this is obviously quite silly. But Bill Scher took this one step further: if Democrats are insulting women by expanding access to contraception, then Mike Huckabee is guilty of the same offense.
Quite right. And then President Obama was inaugurated, at which point Republicans began opposing the same policies they endorsed, pretending routine matters scandalous, and hoping the public and the media won’t know the difference.
Indeed, if contraception access makes the government “Uncle Sugar” in Huckabee’s eyes, wouldn’t that necessarily make him “Governor Sugar”?
To be sure, Huckabee’s bizarre condemnation is demonstrably dumb for plenty of reasons. An inability to control one’s libido, for example, need not be related to routine sexual health.
For that matter, Huckabee’s tirade made it sound as if the federal government – pardon me, “Uncle Sugar” – was taking responsibility for distributing birth control pills directly to the women of America. As Irin Carmon noted, the government isn’t giving out contraception; it’s requiring private insurers to cover it. This really isn’t that complicated, though it seems to routinely confuse conservatives.
But Scher’s catch is the coup de grace: Huckabee took great pleasure in condemning the exact same policy he embraced as governor. He signed a sensible and effective bill, co-sponsored by Arkansas Republicans in 2005, which is effectively the same thing as the Obama administration’s policy.
If Governor Sugar wants to apologize for his overheated nonsense from yesterday, I imagine the White House will be gracious in accepting it.