Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Not Huckabee’s finest hour

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Via digby, this column by Gene Lyons:

 Pundits and TV anchorcreatures love pronouncing about politicians’ “character,” when all they’re really talking about is personality. Hence glib, superficially charming candidates invariably win plaudits in the reality-TV epics we call presidential elections. This year’s GOP Prince Charming is former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. When it comes to ingratiating himself, few surpass the one-time Baptist preacher. He’s witty, he’s warm, and doggone it, people like him. Character consists of something deeper. That’s why it’s important to know the truth about Wayne DuMond, the serial rapist and murderer Huckabee freed from the Arkansas penitentiary to kill again. Unfortunately, that’s the last thing you’ll hear from the candidate himself.

DuMond was a cunning con-man, a predatory psychopath adept at playing victim. A naïve and inexperienced Huckabee went for it, hook, line and sinker. So did others for whom professional skepticism is supposed to be a job requirement. In springing DuMond, the Arkansas Republican courted praise from the Clintonhating right-wing press, whose responsibility for the murder the ex-con committed after his release shouldn’t be overlooked.

Here’s the backstory:

In 1985, DuMond, a handyman with a long rap sheet, kidnapped 17-year-old Forrest City, Ar., cheerleader Ashley Stevens and raped her at knifepoint. DuMond’s trademark MO was cutting off his victims’ brassieres with a hunting knife, vowing to murder them if they told.

Stevens not only reported the crime, she later recognized the newly cleanshaven perp on the street, and agreed to testify.

While free on bond, DuMond was found castrated on the floor of their remote mobile home by his children, an empty bottle of Jack Daniels nearby and his own bloody footprints everywhere. DuMond’s blood alcohol level was 2. 8, falling-down drunk. His wife asked police if he’d mutilated himself. Investigators suspected he had. It’s an uncommon, but not unknown, sympathy ploy. No evidence of the masked intruders DuMond claimed gelded him ever emerged.

Two things made the case notorious. In a touch of Arkansas gothic, the St. Francis County Sheriff (who’d played no role in the rape investigation ) exhibited DuMond’s testicles in a jar. Second, although her identity wasn’t initially disclosed, young Stevens was a distant cousin of then-Gov. Bill Clinton.

After Clinton became president, Du-Mond portrayed himself as an innocent victim of the satanic “Clinton machine.” Soft-headed conspiracy theorists who circulated “Clinton death lists” found the notion irresistible.

New York Post columnist and “Current Affairs” correspondent Steve Dunleavy churned out articles of near-hallucinatory inaccuracy championing DuMond’s cause. He portrayed DuMond as a blameless Vietnam vet with no criminal history. In fact, DuMond avoided prison in Oklahoma by testifying against men tried and convicted of beating a man to death with a claw hammer. He’d been convicted of second degree assault in Oregon, and charged with but not tried for a previous rape in Arkansas.

Dunleavy claimed DNA evidence exonerated DuMond, but that a vengeful Clinton prevented his release. Both were categorically false. No DNA evidence existed; Clinton had recused.

DuMond became a right-wing cause célèbre. One Guy Reel wrote a book entitled “Unequal Justice,” parroting the same bogus claims. Most significantly, Jay Cole, a Fayetteville, Ar., Baptist pastor and pal of Huckabee’s, bought into the delusion.

No sooner had Huckabee become governor after Kenneth Starr’s conviction of his Democratic predecessor, Jim Guy Tucker, than Huckabee began talking about commuting the presumptively innocent DuMond’s sentence. He clearly expected to be congratulated. Instead, Prosecutor Fletcher Long erupted. How could the governor even think of doing that without reading the trial transcript ?

Abandoning her anonymity, Ashley Stevens invaded Huckabee’s personal space: “This is how close I was to Wayne DuMond,” she said. “I will never forget his face. And now I don’t want you ever to forget my face.” Professed victims wrote agonized letters begging Huckabee to desist.

Today, Huckabee alibis that nobody could have predicted DuMond’s Missouri crimes. Many people did. Even this column warned that: “Rape’s not a crime of passion; it’s a crime of rage. Violent sex offenders, innumerable case studies show, keep at it until something stops them. If Huckabee doesn’t understand that, he’s got no business getting involved.” Instead of backing off, Huckabee got tricky. He held an improper closed-door meeting with the parole board, several of whom say they’d felt pressured. Last week, Huckabee’s then-chief counsel, Olan “Butch” Reeves, basically seconded their claims. After the board voted to parole DuMond to Missouri, Huckabee wrote a “Dear Wayne” letter stressing “my desire… that you be released from prison” —the proverbial smoking gun he can’t now rationalize or whine away. Angry Missouri cops say DuMond’s victim’s severed bra straps were like a calling card. They found his DNA under her fingernails. Huckabee’s latest book claims that DuMond died in prison before coming to trial. In fact, he was convicted of murdering Carol Sue Shields on Nov. 12, 2003, and at the time of his death was a leading suspect in the murder of a second Missouri woman. You’d think Huckabee might have noticed.

Written by Leisureguy

13 December 2007 at 11:52 am

Posted in Election, GOP

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