As the race for the Republican nomination has become more of a circus, many in the party and the media have blamed Donald Trump's over-the-top theatrics and flare for the farcical. Why can't the former reality-show host be more mature and responsible?
Why can't he follow the example set by the other candidates -- like Mike Huckabee?
Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee called the Iran deal "idiotic," and likened it to events of the Holocaust, saying that President Obama will ultimately "take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven."
As Anna Brand's msnbc report noted, Huckabee used the inflammatory language during an interview with a right-wing website, Breitbart News.
Note, Huckabee, a former governor and former Fox News host, used to support diplomacy with Iran until talks fell out of favor in far-right circles,
The Arkansas Republican was apparently so pleased with his choice of words that he began pushing the same message through social media, saying on Twitter yesterday, in all capital letters, that the international nuclear agreement with Iran "is marching the Israelis to the door of the oven."
Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz called on Huckabee to apologize. "This rhetoric, while commonplace in today's Republican presidential primary, has no place in American politics. Cavalier analogies to the Holocaust are unacceptable," she said in a statement. "Mike Huckabee must apologize to the Jewish community and to the American people for this grossly irresponsible statement."
That apology apparently won't happen. Huckabee, no doubt worried about securing his place in the upcoming debates, appears comfortable exploiting Holocaust rhetoric to further his ambitions -- a development that says far more about Huckabee than the merits of international nuclear diplomacy.
I realize that for much of the political establishment, Huckabee is a delightful, friendly character, but what seems especially noteworthy about his disgusting comparison is how unsurprising it is. For all the assumptions about the GOP candidate's down-home charms, he routinely uses the kind of offensive rhetoric that should probably relegate him to the extremist fringe, disqualifying him from polite society.
But it doesn't. Huckabee keeps aiming low, appealing to right-wing voters' basest instincts, all while remaining a politician in good standing. Instead of killing his career, Huckabee's latest descent into repulsive politics probably won't even generate mild rebukes from GOP leaders and insiders.
All of which brings us to the broader point: for all the hand-wringing about Trump's buffoonery, it's a mistake to see him as some kind of ridiculous outlier in the Republicans' massive presidential field. Just look at the more "mainstream" GOP candidates: Jeb Bush wants to eliminate Medicare; Rick Perry wants more guns in movie theaters; Scott Walker doesn't know if sexual orientation is a matter of choice; Marco Rubio is eager to draw a distinction between America’s international agreements and the American president’s international agreements; and Rand Paul, desperate for attention, is playing with chainsaws.
It might make people feel better to think we're watching a Republican contest featuring 15 real candidates, who are behaving like grown-ups, while the 16th puts on a foolish show, but as Huckabee's nauseating display makes clear, Trump has plenty of company in the clown car.