Well, change that "has" in that first paragraph into a "had".
Huckabee just blew up his Congenial persona with bad timing, worse instincts, and horrific views on rape and gender roles.
This originally came out in February of this year, only now hitting the airwaves (from Raw Story):
Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee joked that he wished he was young again — so he could pretend to be transgender and watch girls shower in locker rooms.
During his speech at the 2015 National Religious Broadcasters Convention in February, Huckabee attacked laws to allow transgender students to use facilities that correspond to their gender identity...
“...For those who do not think that we are under threat, simply recognize that the fact that we are now in city after city watching ordinances say that your seven-year-old daughter, if she goes into the restroom cannot be offended and you can’t be offended if she’s greeted there by a 42-year-old man who feels more like a woman than he does a man,” the former Arkansas governor said.
“Now I wish that someone told me that when I was in high school that I could have felt like a woman when it came time to take showers in PE,” Huckabee continued. “I’m pretty sure that I would have found my feminine side and said, ‘Coach, I think I’d rather shower with the girls today.’ You’re laughing because it sounds so ridiculous doesn’t it?...”
It is not the first time that Huckabee has joked about pretending to be transgender to shower with girls. He made similar comments after California enacted a law to allow transgender students to use school facilities consistent with their gender identity...
Transgender or gender identity issues are in the news right now because of former Olympian Bruce Jenner changing body and identity to Caitlyn. But it's interesting to note how Huckabee has been like this - insensitive to gender identity as an issue - for months now (and that his Republican audience seems to find it funny).
The response to Huckabee's joke hasn't been happy or laughing. Part of the problem is the setup: he's talking about being a perv wanting to watch girls shower. This is supposed to be a guy preaching - literally - about sin and naughty thoughts, and he's indulging in that stuff.
Even if he's trying to phrase it as "oh if I were back in high school," he's saying it today as a man in his fifties. He's coming across as a dirty old man lusting - yes, lusting - after school girls. Even "free-minded" libruls have a few problems with that scenario.
His joke is made as an attempt to fear-monger as well: "Oh no watch out, guys claiming to be women are gonna sneak into your women's bathrooms and abuse your girls." As fear-mongering goes, it shows lack of understanding: transgender identities are not a joke, and there's been states with active transgender laws in place that have NOT reported the things Huckabee rails against. That lack of understanding undermines Huckabee's own attempts at Congeniality. It's a trait that requires some level of empathy for others, and it's a trait that requires self-deprecation rather than judgmental attitude.
This is one-half of the problem. The other half doesn't involve his lackwit sense of humor but his poor judge of character involving the Duggars.
It's come out recently that the "reality" stars of a television show - 19 Kids and Counting - preaching "family values" were covering up for one of their older son Josh who as a teenager sexually molested younger girls. Including his own sisters. With lingering questions about how long he's really been at it...
The Duggars were major figures in the "pro-family" movement known as Quiverfull. The movement has been documented as an ideology that imposes a nasty patriarchal mindset on entire families, the kind of environment that would encourage this type of abuse.
This scandal became a quick embarrassment to the Republican Party because Josh Duggar was a rising political figure in the Religious Right groups. Not a lot of GOP politicos wanted to discuss the matter much... except for Huckabee, who has been a close ally of the Duggars and their ilk for years. From Olivia Nuzzi at the Daily Beast:
...Nevertheless, Huckabee was prepared to forgive Duggar’s sins. “No purpose whatsoever is served by those who are now trying to discredit Josh or his family by sensationalizing the story,” he wrote. “Good people make mistakes and do regrettable and even disgusting things...”
...Given Huckabee’s evidently low bar for what constitutes forgivable behavior, it’s somewhat perplexing that, as a public figure, he has chosen to attack lots of people who have not admitted to or been accused of sex crimes of any nature—like President Obama: guilty of “stomping on Christians”; gays who are trying to “criminalize Christianity”; Beyoncé and Jay Z for morally bankrupting our society with their sexy music and dancing...
Nuzzi's article also mentions how as governor of Arkansas Huckabee went to bat for a convicted rapist to get paroled despite the protests of the victims, only to have said rapist go on to rape (and this time KILL) once freed.
This points to a world-view, a set of consistent actions, where Huckabee showed little interest or gave much value to the words, rights, or safety of victimized women. This is not a happy, fuzzy world-view. There is nothing Congenial about ignoring rape or sexual assault.
Because here's the problem with Huckabee and the other defenders of Josh Duggar's crimes, and of the crimes his parents committed through inaction and then intentional coverup: they are protecting the sexual predator - that is exactly what Josh is - at the expense of the true victims - his own sisters and other young girls - of his crimes. They have valued the life of the man - this molester, this monster - over that of his own sisters (dear Mr. and Mrs. Duggar: YOUR OWN DAUGHTERS! This the value you place upon them?!).
And Huckabee still acts that way: the man is more important than the victims of that man.
I've been making parody bumper stickers for 2016 campaigns this week. Tonight I've made one that is NO LAUGHING MATTER: