I’m getting tired of reading that Mike Huckabee dodged a debate question on the death penalty by cracking a joke. He didn’t dodge the question; he gave a thoughtful and heartfelt answer, then when pressed by Anderson Cooper to presume to speak for Jesus on the issue, he did finally crack a joke which defused the tension. The exchange is transcribed below, verbatim from the clip on Youtube. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M5EBmZh7sMo)
Question: “Hi, this is Tyler Overman from Memphis Tennessee, and I have a quick question for those of you who would call yourselves ‘Christian conservatives.’ The death penalty: What would Jesus do?”
Huckabee: “You know one of the toughest challenges that I ever faced as a governor was carrying out the death penalty. I did it more than any other governor ever had to do it in my state. As I look on this stage, I’m pretty sure that I’m the only person on this stage that’s ever actually had to actually do it. Let me tell you it was the toughest decision I ever made as a human being. I read every page of every document of every case that ever came before me because it was the one decision that came to my desk that once I made it, was irrevocable. Every other decision, somebody else could go back and overturn, could fix if it was a mistake. That was one that was irrevocable. I believe there is a place for a death penalty. Some crimes are so heinous, so horrible, that the only response that we as a civilized nation have for a most uncivil action is not only to try to deter that person from ever committing that crime again, but also as a warning to others that some crimes truly are beyond any other capacity for us to fix. (applause) Now having said that, there are those who say, ‘How can you be pro-life and believe in a death penalty?’ Because there’s a real difference between the process of adjudication where a person is deemed guilty after a thorough judicial process and is put to death by all of us citizens under a law, as opposed to an individual making a decision to terminate a life that has never been deemed guilty because the life never was given a chance to even exist.
Anderson Cooper: Governor…
Huckabee: That’s the fundamental difference.
Anderson Cooper: “I do have to, though, press though, the question which – the – the question was, from the view was, ‘What would Jesus do?’ Would Jesus support the death penalty?”
Huckabee: “Jesus was too smart to ever run for public office, Anderson. That’s what Jesus would do.”