Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee got quite a lot of attention last week for his negative comments about Natalie Portman’s pregnancy. He seems to have the idea that Ms. Portman is glamorizing out-of-wedlock pregnancy. Maybe I missed something, but I haven’t seen or heard anything to support such a claim. While Ms. Portman has been honest about her pregnancy, and she does not appear to be ashamed of it, neither of those circumstances warrant the inference that she is glamorizing her condition.
Now, here’s where the hypocrisy comes into the picture. Way back in the fall of 2008, the Republican vice-presidential candidate’s unmarried teen-aged daughter was pregnant throughout the campaign. I could be wrong – and if I am, please provide a link for me – but I don’t recall Mr. Huckabee saying anything negative about Ms. Bristol Palin’s pregnancy. Similar to Ms. Portman, Ms. Palin was honest about her pregnancy, and did not appear to be ashamed of it. Moreover, like Ms. Palin before her, Ms. Portman is engaged to marry the father of her child. Ms. Palin’s engagement was later broken; we’ll have to wait and see what happens in Ms. Portman’s case. Since one can readily see striking similarities in the two cases, one can’t help wondering why one case merits criticism and the other didn’t.
I don’t think it’s coincidental that Mr. Huckabee remained silent at a time when the Republican party stood to gain a lot. Now, when the Republican party doesn’t have anything to gain or lose in the immediate future, Mr. Huckabee has spoken critically about out-of-wedlock pregnancy. Previously, presumably to support his party’s chances at success, Mr. Huckabee held his tongue about the Palin family’s personal circumstances. Even when Sarah Palin and the Republican party hauled Bristol Palin from one end of the country to the other to garner sympathy and support for their ambitions, Mr. Huckabee remained silent. It seems to me that Bristol Palin’s constant presence on her mother’s campaign trail over a period of several months glamorized her pregnancy far more than Natalie Portman’s brief appearance at what was, first and foremost for her, a professional event related to her career.
In contrast to the situation that existed less than three years ago, Mike Huckabee’s current position in relation to the Republican party has changed significantly. He had nothing to gain by criticizing Bristol Palin in 2008. Now, he has an opportunity to compete against Sarah Palin for the next Republican presidential nomination. Sarah Palin is a darling among evangelical Christian Republicans, and Mr. Huckabee needs to gain support from that same conservative base if he hopes to win that nomination. One way to do that is to speak out strongly for family values as the Religious Right he must woo defines them. That includes, among other things, standing firmly against single-parenthood and sex outside of heterosexual marital relations.
I suppose Mr. Huckabee’s comments about single parenthood, out-of-wedlock pregnancy and so on were sincere. It’s hard to tell, though, because the sincerity of his sentiments is grossly overshadowed by the transparency of his ambition.
– the chaplain