Why Did Mike Huckabee Defend Josh Duggar? The Former Governor Has Close Ties With The '19 Children And Counting' Family

Scandal rocked the world of reality television on Thursday with the news that 19 Kids And Counting star Josh Duggar was accused of molesting five different girls 12 years ago, when Duggar. The news has big ramifications in different directions — for Duggar, who apologized Friday for what he termed "inexcusable behavior;" for the women he victimized; for the channel that, until Friday, aired the Duggar family's long-running show (TLC pulled it Friday afternoon); and as it turns out, for a prominent Republican presidential candidate as well. On Friday, Mike Huckabee came out in defense of Josh Duggar, stating that the scandalized star had "confessed his sins to those he harmed."

It was, to put it mildly, a surprising defense from the former Arkansas governor, who's one of six Republicans to officially declare their candidacies for President in 2016. At first blush, you might wonder why any would-be presidential contender would be offering words of public support for someone who's admitted to a history of child molestation, regardless of how old they were at the time.

Given Huckabee's proximity to the Duggars, who have attended events with him in the past, some sort of statement was probably necessary. But suffice to say this isn't the sort of response you'd expect from a campaigning politician, with his thoughts and views so open to public debate and dissection.

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Here's Huckabee's statement in full, which he posted to his Facebook on Friday (line breaks have been added for clarity).

Janet and I want to affirm our support for the Duggar family. Josh’s actions when he was an underage teen are as he described them himself, 'inexcusable,' but that doesn’t mean 'unforgivable.' He and his family dealt with it and were honest and open about it with the victims and the authorities. No purpose whatsoever is served by those who are now trying to discredit Josh or his family by sensationalizing the story. Good people make mistakes and do regrettable and even disgusting things.
The reason that the law protects disclosure of many actions on the part of a minor is that the society has traditionally understood something that today’s blood-thirsty media does not understand—that being a minor means that one's judgement is not mature. No one needs to defend Josh’s actions as a teenager, but the fact that he confessed his sins to those he harmed, sought help, and has gone forward to live a responsible and circumspect life as an adult is testament to his family’s authenticity and humility. Those who have enjoyed revealing this long ago sins in order to discredit the Duggar family have actually revealed their own insensitive bloodthirst, for there was no consideration of the fact that the victims wanted this to be left in the past and ultimately a judge had the information on file destroyed—not to protect Josh, but the innocent victims.
Janet and I love Jim Bob and Michelle and their entire family. They are no more perfect a family than any family, but their Christian witness is not marred in our eyes because following Christ is not a declaration of our perfection, but of HIS perfection. It is precisely because we are all sinners that we need His grace and His forgiveness. We have been blessed to receive God’s love and we would do no less than to extend our love and support for our friends. In fact, it is such times as this, when real friends show up and stand up. Today, Janet and I want to show up and stand up for our friends. Let others run from them. We will run to them with our support.

The Duggars endorsed Huckabee in 2008, and are a quite popular draw with conservative crowds — at an event in Arkansas in April, Huckabee called the Duggars "the kind of folks whose family is the exemplary family that you'd love for every family in America to be like," as detailed by The Des Moines Register.

So, why the curious defense, rather than the usual process of distancing and condemnation you'd typically expect? The spiritual content of Huckabee's statement somewhat makes this clear — the Duggars, like Huckabee, are devout Christians, and that's clearly playing a role in Huckabee's willingness to forgive, invoking the language of confession and sin.

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His supply of respect and understanding was apparently in shorter supply when he was writing his book God, Guns, Grits and Gravy, however — as Radar Online detailed in January, he lambasted liberal critics of the family as "snobs and sophisticates," calling their children "yuppie larvae" and "little hellions" by comparison.

...[they] exemplify their own jealousy of how well behaved the Duggar kids are compared to the little hellions and yuppie larvae created by the critics of the Duggars.

It'll be interesting to see whether Huckabee ultimately sticks to his guns on this point — it does seem a little early in his campaign to be burning political capital, after all, much less to defend an admitted child molester.

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