If you just read the headlines, Mike Huckabee and Glenn Beck are feuding. Glenn said some things about Mike's political views and threw around the term "progressive." That prompted a response from Mike that include the words "cancer" and "Nazi."
Wow, that got out of hand quick.
So let's take a second to cut through it all and figure out what's going on.
First, it's important to know what Glenn said on radio two days ago. Here's an audio excerpt (h/t Mediaite), with a transcript to follow later:
That's the clip making the rounds courtesy of Media Matters. Now I'm not sure if that's the only excerpt Huckabee heard, but here's the response he issued after that clip came out:
This week Glenn Beck has taken to his radio show to attack me as a Progressive, which he has said is the same as a “cancer” and a “Nazi.” What did I do that apparently caused him to link me to a fatal disease and a form of government that murdered millions of innocent Jews? I had the audacity—not of hope—but the audacity to give respect to the efforts of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign to address childhood obesity. I’m no fan of her husband’s policies for sure, but I have appreciated her efforts that Beck misrepresented—either out of ignorance or out of a deliberate attempt to distort them to create yet another “boogey man” hiding in the closet that he and only he can see. The First Lady’s approach is about personal responsibility—not the government literally taking candy from a baby’s mouth. He seems to fancy himself a prophet of sorts for his linking so many people and events together to describe a massive global conspiracy for pretty much everything. Sadly, he seems equally inept at recognizing the obvious fact that children are increasingly obese and that we now see clinical evidence of diseases in children that as recent as 20 years ago were found only in adults, such as Type 2 diabetes. The costs to our nation are staggering in increase health care expenses, but it even effects national security with now 75% of young men between the ages of 17 and 24 are unfit for military service primarily due to obesity! His ridiculous claim that John McCain and I collaborated and conspired in the 2008 campaign is especially laughable. Is he not aware that McCain and I were competitors---not cohorts? Beck needs to stick to conspiracies that can’t be so easily de-bunked by facts. Why Beck has decided to aim his overloaded guns on me is beyond me.
Okay, now that seems a little over the top. First, let's take a deep breath. Second, a couple things worth pointing out.
For starters, Glenn never called Huckabee a "cancer" or a "Nazi." That's not in the audio, and it's not in the more complete transcript you're about to read. Maybe at some time or some place and in a much different context, Glenn used some of those terms in the same sentence. But he hasn't compared actual progressives to Nazis, and that's not the context here. And context is always important.
Glenn did, however, call Huckabee a progressive Republican, just like people for years have called John McCain a progressive Republican. There's no secret about that. And to be honest, Glenn backed his statement up with some examples, mainly that Huckabee has aligned himself with the nanny state polices surrounding Michelle Obama's anti-child-obesity campaign. (And those policies are progressive -- see here and here as just two examples)
So far, then, we have two exaggerations and a truth. Cancer, no. Nazi, no. Progressive Republican, yes. But now let's look at the full transcript from that part of the show and see what else Glenn said. See, when you look at that you see that Glenn was actually complimentary of Huckabee and went out of his way to praise him on some things. Here are some of the quotes:
"Now, I will tell you somebody who I have nothing bad to say about this gentleman."
"He's not I don't think he's for this kind of giant government."
"Now, I think that Huckabee is truly deeply religious and I think he truly is a Christian man..."
"I think Mike Huckabee is sincere in his faith."
"I like the fact that he's a religious man."
"Now, I've talked to him. I thought he was a fine guy. ... He was great."
"Believe me he's no Barack Obama. He's not even remotely close to that sort of thing."
Now call me a conspiracy theorist, but 'dem don't sound like fightin' words. And they're not. In fact, it seems like Glenn's going out of his way to draw a distinction between Huckabee's progressivism and, say, Barack Obama's. Take a look at the (unedited) transcript yourself. Note that it encompasses more than the above audio, so it's worth the read:
Glenn: ... Now, I will tell you somebody who I have nothing bad to say about this gentleman. He is I'm not going to you know, I know he's loved and a lot of people really support him and that is great. I think Mike Huckabee is the one, if you are somebody who understands progressives are on both sides of the aisle, I think Mike Huckabee is John McCain. I think Mike Huckabee is a guy who's had Michelle Obama on and said, you know what? Your fat kid programs, they are great. They are great.
STU: I don't think he said it exactly like that.
PAT: Well, look how closely he and McCain were aligned during the campaign.
PAT: They got together to destroy Mitt Romney. That's what they did last time. They seem to get along pretty well together.
GLENN: And he is a progressive. He look at his record. He is a progressive.
STU: He's weird on we talked about this during the 2008. He's, you know, a little he raised taxes in his state, he's kind of overreaching with sort of the nanny sort of health style.
GLENN: Big time. Big time. He is the perfect quite honestly he's the only one I think that is the perfect progressive candidate for the Republican Party. He's the guy. He will play along with the party politics. He will get along to get along. He will move things along. He doesn't want to disrupt giant government. He's not I don't think he's for this kind of giant government.
STU: No, no.
GLENN: But he will he's John McCain. He will still do all of the policy things. He's perfect for the progressives because he's also appealing to the religious side. And so you have to have the religious side. That's why Obama has his religious outreach with Jim Wallis. Now, I think that Huckabee is truly deeply religious and I think he truly is a Christian man where Jim Wallis, I'm not going to judge his soul but he's a Marxist. I haven't met a lot of Marxists that love Jesus. You know what I mean?
STU: It's not their defining characteristic typically, no.
GLENN: Right. Where I think Mike Huckabee is sincere in his faith.
STU: Oh, yeah. There's a lot of positives with Huckabee. A lot of people like him because, A, he's a fantastic communicator and, B, he's one of the only guys really out there, you know, who focuses more on the social issues and that's something that not every candidate does. So I mean, I think a lot of people like him for that reason. But I don't like some of his bigger government tendencies.
GLENN: I don't like here's what I don't like. I like the fact that he's a religious man.
GLENN: I don't like the fact, whenever you couple religion with progressivism, it becomes dangerous. I don't want somebody regulating and telling me about religion. Now, I'm not saying that Huckabee is going to do anything to hurt my religion or anybody else's religion, it just, I don't like the combination no, no, let me just say this. I don't like big government people. And Mike Huckabee is a big government person. Now, I've talked to him. I thought he was a fine guy. You know, he credited me with his win in Iowa last time because remember? He was on he was on the CNN show, gave him an hour.
STU: That's right, yeah.
GLENN: And he made a lot of sense and he was great. He was great.
STU: Believe me he's no Barack Obama. He's not even remotely close to that sort of thing.
GLENN: He is not. He is not. But he is certainly, in my opinion, not a guy that, if you have a libertarian or small government bend to you. STU: Well, he's bashed libertarians several times outwardly, yeah.
Interesting, isn't it?
In the end, then, it seems that what we have here is Glenn pointing out some concerns about Huckabee's positions (a completely legitimate and necessary thing to do), and then the media (i.e. Media Matters) getting a hold of it and making sure the sound bite does not include the praise lavished on the person behind those positions.
What it's not is an all-out war between two prominent conservatives. It seems much more like an honest critique spun to sound like an ad hominem.
After all, that fits better into Media Matters' narrative.