On Wednesday evening, August 21, 2019, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee presented the keynote address at Freedom Center founder David Horowitz’s 80th birthday celebration at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills. If you’ve ever heard a Huckabee speech, you know what an entertaining storyteller he is. This speech is no exception. Check out the video below:
Mike Huckabee: Well, it is a delight to be here. I want to say, what a thrill to have Tom Dreesen up first. I mean, talking about a guy that sets the table. Tom, thank you very much. A great, great joy to be with you. I look over there, I see Wink and Sandy Martindale, who are lovely friends, fantastic people. And then, the best of the show is yet to come. Rich Little is coming up here in a little while. One of the funniest men alive. And I’ve had both Tom and Rich, and Wink, all on my television show on the weekend. And they still speak to me. That’s what is remarkable.
By the way, the introduction that I got was very heartwarming. I will tell you that these days, I don’t even get that much introduction anymore. Usually, it’s just this: Ladies and gentlemen, Sarah’s dad.
When Sarah was still doing the press briefings and working at the White House, people would say, does it make you nervous when you see your daughter walk into that press briefing room and that room full of howling idiots?
I say, oh, it sure does. But not for her. I’m worried about those guys out there in the room that’s she’s about to take their heads off.
My daughter is one tough cookie. And people would ask me often, where did she get that tough hide? I said, have you met her mother? But I never say that when Janet is around, I’m not that stupid.
But Sarah is the first press security, to my knowledge, whose background wasn’t journalism and the press. And I really believe that’s why she was different. And I say this sincerely. Because most of the people who ever hold that job, their background was journalism. When they walk into the room, they’re looking at peers and friends. And they want to be pals, and they want to be loved by that group.
Sarah, her whole life, has been a political warrior. That’s all she’s ever done. And she does not see it in terms of, gee, I want those people to like me. She understands her job was to represent the President, and to go out there, and to leave no quarter and not let them take that podium from her. And her job was to defend the White House, the President and the things that he stood for.
And so she didn’t care whether they liked her or not. I mean, she’d prefer that they did, but she realized they probably wouldn’t. And it was not a failure to her if she didn’t please that gang out there. She understood she only had one client. And that client wasn’t sitting in the room in front of her. It was back in that room that’s shaped like an oval. And if he liked what she did, it didn’t matter whether they liked it or not. And that’s how she approached it.
People ask me, why did she leave? It’s real simple, there are three reasons. Scarlett, Huck and George. Those are her three kids, age seven, five and four.
And it was as simple as wanting to have more mommy time, and realizing that somebody else could be press secretary, but nobody else could be mom to those three kids. And so she’s moved back to Arkansas, got her kids enrolled in school there. A lot of speculation — the President, of course, has fueled it — whether or not she’s going to run for something in a couple of years. And I think the possibility is rather strong.
And that’s not an announcement; that’s just a dad’s intuition, knowing his daughter. But she won’t make that decision for a while. Part of me thinks it would be really cool if she became governor. She’d be the first governor in that state who moved back into the governor’s mansion, having grown up there as a teenager. And the good news is there’s no hiding place her kids could find that she wouldn’t know all about before they ever got there. That would be a true delight.
Well, as I say, you’re going to have some terrific stuff. When I finish, it’s not a lack of interest in being here for the rest of it, but I’m headed to the airport to take the redeye to Nashville, to get ready to do the television show this weekend. But how honored I truly am to be here, to pay tribute to one of the great voices of American thought today. I didn’t say just American conservativism, but really American thought. And that’s David Horowitz, whose amazing voice —
— is more vital now than it has ever been. Because we’ve never had a time in American history where you had a major political party that had gone so far off the rails that we don’t even recognize them.
And I don’t say that to be harsh or overtly partisan. I’m saying it as a sense of alarm. Because I know there are many decent and good Democrats around the country who I have to believe, deep down, are appalled that their party has been taken over, not be people who are just a little bit liberal, but people who are outright avowed and unapologetic socialist leftists and people who would totally undermine the very foundation of this country. And that is of great concern to me, and it ought to be to all of us.
Now look, folks, I’m going to tell you the truth. Donald Trump was not my first choice for President.
I was my first choice for President, just so you know.
But he was my second choice when it became apparent that I would have to leave the race. And a lot of people said, well, why did you leave so early? I said, well, I had to, it was illness. And they didn’t understand that, they were not aware of it. But it was true. Apparently, the voters were sick of me, and so I had to get out and find something else to do.
By the way, I’ve had a lot of fun watching the frontrunner for the Democrats, Joe Biden. Folks, you know you’re in trouble when you have to call up your brain surgeon from 30 years ago to convince everybody that you’re okay. But it was even more worrisome when the basic affirmation of his brain surgeon was that Joe, in fact, does have a functioning brain.
I’m thinking, well, if he didn’t, we call that dead. Next he’ll have a cardiologist say he does have a pulse.
Folks, this is pretty bad. He has a functioning brain. Well, that’s good. That’s why he’s able to breathe, he’s able to have regular bodily functions. I mean, without a brain, you can’t do those things. Doesn’t mean he ought to be President, for heaven sakes. Maybe somebody should’ve written into the Constitution you have to have a functioning brain in order to be President.
And I loved it this week when his wife, Jill Biden, was asked about him. And her ringing endorsement was, well, please go out and vote for Joe, even if you have to hold your nose and swallow hard.
I would be totally humiliated if my wife got up and said, please vote for my husband. He’s not worth a darn. But, by golly, he really needs the job. And so if you could just find it in your heart to go out there and vote for him anyway, no matter how hard it is and how much it hurts to do it. I thought, that’s his wife talking to us here!
And the things that he somehow believes he was a part of — I swear, I think that Joe Biden has become the Forrest Gump of American politics. He’s been everywhere. He’s been in every moment of American history. Next, Joe will be remembering when he launched the D-Day invasion in June of 1944. Joe will be talking about the debates, and he’ll say, I’m looking forward to getting in these debates. I remember that Lincoln-Douglas debate I was in.
I mean, Joe has recollections of — recently now, he said he was shot at at one point. His helicopter had to go down. I’m waiting on him to tell us that he was involved in the gunfight at the O.K. Corral, he was there for that as well. I mean, this is a guy who has padded his resume most of his life. Did he oversee the Panama Canal? It’s very possible that he’ll say that he did.
But don’t worry, he’ll be fine. Just remember, if you really do want to help him, just go to Joe 30330.
The poor guy doesn’t even know the difference between a text message and an email, and he wants to be President. Maybe that’s comforting to you, but it isn’t to me, I got to tell you.
President’s been in some trouble this week, because he wanted to buy Greenland. I got a scoop for you. Reason he isn’t buying it, because I’ve already made the deal on it. I told them I couldn’t pay for it all in cash, but I’d give them a postdated check. And I’d put a little something on it, we’d work out the details later. And the reason was because I felt like it was a great place that I could purchase. And actually, Joe Biden asked me to do it, because he said he needed the recipe for ice. And he thought that maybe I could get it if I bought Greenland.
AOC this week — there’s the great sage of American politics right now. And she wants to get rid of the electoral college. I think she just doesn’t want to pay her student loan off to the electoral college is her problem. How bad is it, when she is now the voice and the face of the entire political Left, along with Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar? In a way — that’s right, somebody said it’s a blessing. It is. Because I have to believe that across America, a nation of over 300 million people, that surely there are enough people who take their brain to work every day that would look at that option and realize, this is not a future that we could live with.
We’re living in a time where the Left has decided that it’s no longer an issue of policies of the Left and policies of the Right. And we’ll discuss them, we’ll debate them. And we’ll let people decide which policies are truly the best.
There is a hierarchy of political war, if you will. It starts with policy. And in a perfect world, that’s where the debate is housed, and that’s where the debate is. We discuss whether or not there should be a policy of more taxes and more statism, or whether there should be a policy of more freedom and more individual responsibility. Those are legitimate discussions of policy.
Now, when one side cannot win on the issue of policy, and their policies no longer are able to be articulated in a winning way, the second stage in the hierarchy of political war is just raw politics: get more votes than the other side, get your voters to turn out, which of course is always the key strategy. Because politics is a simple mathematical equation of 50 plus one, and you win; and less than that, and you don’t.
But when that doesn’t work, and you have one of the major candidates for political office with a warehouse full of balloons that nobody needed, curled up in a fetal position with a third bottle of wine by 2:00 a.m. and unable to go and face her supporters — when politics cannot work, then there’s only one thing left. And that’s where we are today.
And that’s the third level in the hierarchy of political war, and it’s personal attacks. And what we’ve seen is polities are no longer being legitimately debated. It’s no longer simply a matter of politics, because the election was over. But the other side has yet to acknowledge that the 2016 election was a genuine expression of the will of the American people through the process we have, and it was a legal election that gave Donald Trump the Presidency.
And so now, what we’ve been experiencing for these almost two years, or soon to be three, is simply a never-ending personal attack on the President, his family, his staff, his cabinet, and anyone who is or ever has been associated with him. But it’s not a danger to the President as much as it is a danger to our form of government. Because we’re not designed to see if we can destroy the people that we elect.
I think if, in fact, we ever get to the bottom of all that was a part of this Russian conspiracy, we will discover that it was a conspiracy among the highest levels of government. It was a cover-up involving the highest levels of people in our government. And ultimately, it was an attempted coup d’état to try to overthrow the government that the people had elected.
What we have to think about is that our country is going to be faced with a very significant choice. This isn’t going to be nuances of the same point of view. There may’ve been a time in American history where a presidential election between a Democrat and a Republican were several shades of gray. This won’t be that kind of election. One side believes that we really should have open borders. Another side believes we should not. One side believes that free healthcare for all means that the state should have total control of our healthcare, even though they’ve not been willing or able to define what that is. Only Bernie Sanders has been honest enough to say, yes, your taxes will go up dramatically.
And yes, even the people in the unions — who, for reasons that I’ve never fully understood, completely support the Democrats — will lose the healthcare benefits that they have worked so hard to negotiate for, even giving up salaries for, in order to have it. And they’re going to be outlawed. And if they still line up like useful idiots to go and to support the idea that they would undermine their own healthcare plans that they’ve supposedly worked so hard for, then there really is no good sense whatsoever on the thought of those who are pushing it.
The idea of releasing all the student loans — I don’t think they fully understand that there are a lot of Americans, millions of Americans, who took out student loans and did the unthinkable: They paid them off. I’ll be honest with you. When I started hearing all this, I realized I’m the biggest idiot that ever lived in America. First of all, I didn’t take out student loans. Because I couldn’t afford them. I just worked 40 and 50 hours a week and paid every penny of my college myself, because my parents couldn’t afford it.
I’m the first male in my entire family lineage to ever graduate high school, much less go to college. No male upstream from me ever got out of high school. Folks, you don’t maybe understand, but I didn’t come from a family where there was blue blood. My dad used to say to me as a kid, son, don’t look very far up the family tree. There’s some stuff up there you don’t need to see.
Course, that made me curious. And I realized the old man was right, there’s some stuff up there nobody ought to see.
My mother grew up in a house in the Depression. She was the oldest of seven kids. She lived in a house that didn’t have plumbing, electricity or even floors. Just dirt. I’m that close to a generation away from that level of third-world poverty.
But I grew up in this country, in America. And I learned early on that I had nothing to do with where I started, but I had everything to do with where I would stop. And I realized that if I would be willing to work hard, and maybe have to work harder than some other kids around me; but if I would take advantage of the opportunities of education that were afforded me in this country, that there really were no limits, other than the ones that I imposed upon myself.
And so I went to college. And I got through my four-year degree in two years and three months. Not because I was smarter than the other people, but because I sat down and I realized that the longer I stayed, the more it costs. And I said, I can get through if I just take all the courses they will let me take. And if I take courses during the summer, and cram it all in, I can get through, and that’ll save me a lot of money.
Little did I know that I should’ve taken out hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loan and just expect somebody else to pay for them. I feel like such a chump. But I also feel like an American, who grew up believing that it’s not somebody else’s job to bail me out or take care of me. And the joy that I have from having attained an education that happened because I did work, and work hard to get it, and leave college with not a penny of debt, is something that I’ve been able to enjoy and never feel guilty, because I’ve had at least some modicum of success in my life. Wasn’t handed to me. But the opportunity was.
And I’m grateful that I’ve lived in a country that has afforded me the extraordinary privileges of being a person with freedom, that was not limited because of where my family came from and what they had, and what their last name didn’t mean to open the doors. And there are a lot of kids like me across America. And I’d sure hate for us to go to a place where we lived in a world where the government made all the decisions as to where we went to school and what kind of jobs we had. And that’s where we’re headed if we continue to move this far to the left.
What we know is that not only will there be open borders and free healthcare for all, and maybe we’ll just get rid of student loans — and who pays for that, God only knows — but we’re pretty sure there are going to be taxes raised. We’re absolutely certain that there will be late-term abortion, which will be the new healthcare mandate, and I find that appalling. And even if you think abortion is okay, surely you don’t think that it’s okay, when a child is literally capable of being born and living outside the womb, that we would still think that it’s okay to end that human life.
And then, there’s that wonderful proposal, the Green New Deal. Look, I’ll be honest. I enjoyed the meal tonight. I don’t always enjoy the meals I go to a banquet and have. I was at a banquet speaking a few weeks ago. The food was so bad, three terrorist groups called in responsibility for it.
So I’m delighted when I come and I have a nice piece of beef like we had tonight. That was great. I’m happy for it.
And to be honest with you, I don’t care what the flatulence level of the cows was who produced it.
I’d rather have that than a big plate full of tofu any day of my life. And one reason I will work really, really hard for the President to be reelected is because the thought of having to swim to Hawaii is a little disconcerting to me.
I’m a little older than AOC, quite a bit. And I was in college when we were told that if we didn’t do something, and do it right now, we were all going to turn into human popsicles. Because global cooling was going to chill the planet, and that we would not live past 1980. Which, by the way, was the summer — I don’t know in California, but in the South, we had the hottest summer on record in 1980, the year we were supposed to freeze to death.
There’s something ridiculously wrong that people would buy into this notion that somehow the human race only has 12 years to live. If that’s really true, I say let’s live it up for the next 12 and go ahead and go out with a bang. By gosh, have prime rib every night and really enjoy things.
I know where I am. I’m in California. I just got here this afternoon, and I’m leaving a few hours later. So I went to a couple of places, just to see if I could ask them for plastic straws. And I was threatened with arrest.
We’re laughing only because it’s the only way to keep from crying. But what’s at stake is our country.
I’m happy to join you tonight to honor a person whose legacy is one of bringing intellectual understanding of what the real issues are, why they matter, and who articulates them probably more effectively than anyone I’ve ever known. It’s a delight for me to even know David Horowitz, to have the privilege of being able to have conversations with him, to be able to read his books, and to get the insights from him. Because he has a big-picture view that a lot of Americans simply don’t.
When I interviewed him a few months ago for my television show, and we talked about his book — which I thought was a brilliant book, and still do, about the role that faith and the faith community has played in giving Americans its grounding and its freedom — it made me just remember that the reason that our country is in some of the shape it’s in, and that we are losing the battle among many of the millennials, is because they’ve grown up in a world in which they do not believe in objective truth. They believe in something that is ridiculous called my truth, which is absurd.
I’m a musician. Maybe not a very good one, but I play. And I’ve been playing since the age of 11. It was my intention to be the fifth Beatle.
Somehow that never really worked out, I don’t know why. But I do know this about playing music, that before you ever play the first note of a song on stage, something precedes that. It’s called tuning the instrument. And I don’t care how good you are. You can be a virtuoso, an absolute master. But if your instrument isn’t tuned, no matter how well you play, it will not be music; it will be noise and chaos. It is required to tune the instrument. And you don’t tune it to what you think, to what you feel or to what you believe. You tune it to an objective standard. You tune it to the tuning fork, or you tune it to an electronic tuner. But you tune it to something that is true and constant, and that whatever country you’re in, whatever continent, and whatever band or orchestra you’re playing in, it’s always going to be exactly to the same tone, so that there will be a consistency. And without that, there cannot be any music.
And we’ve raised a whole generation of people to believe that what matters is not what the truth is; what matters is what they feel like that it is, or what they think it is, or what they believe it is. Folks, that’s nonsense. What I think, what I feel, what I believe is not as important as what is. And truth is not subjective and everybody gets to go through the cafeteria and pick out their pieces of it and put it on their plate and say, this is my truth.
It’s either true or not that human life matters. It’s either true or not that certain things, like stealing and lying and corruption, are wrong. It’s either true or not that we have respect for other people, and that even when we disagree with them, we do so in a respectful manner. That’s not a matter of how I feel or what I think or what I believe. It’s whether or not I’ve tuned my life to something objective.
David Horowitz, I think probably more than any other person I know on the planet earth today, has done the best job of explaining the application of why faith and why objective truth is critical to the very survival of a civilization, and that without it we are an orchestra, all tuned to what we think, feel and believe, but we make chaos and not music.
When I see the attacks upon Israel, I’m appalled. Many of you may know I’m a strong supporter of Israel. I’m not even Jewish. It’s not about being Jewish. It’s not about how I feel or think or believe. It’s because I am aware of the fact that after 3,000 years, this country that was promised to the Jewish people by God through Abraham has come back alive. The dry bones are alive again, just like Ezekiel said they would be. And this is a nation where the desert has bloomed.
My first trip there was in the summer of 1973, when I was a 17-year-old kid between high school and college. And the first time I ever went there, I felt something extraordinarily different. I mean, it was just like being home in a place I’d never been. And so for 46 years, I have been going back and forth to Israel, sometimes five times or more a year. I’ve been there a lot more than most of my Jewish friends.
I have to tell them about what Israel is like, because they — but my point of this is to say that when I see people who call it an apartheid state, I realize they have no idea what they’re talking about. When I see people saying that we need to implement the boycott, divestiture and sanction movement to punish Israel, I’m thinking, you’re not punishing Israel as much as you’re punishing the people you supposedly champion, the Palestinians.
Just a few years ago, I was in Judea at the Soda Stream factory, an Israeli-based company. Eleven hundred people employed in that factory, 600 of whom were Palestinians, 600. Five hundred were Israeli. More Palestinians than Israeli. They all got the same wage, which, for the Palestinians, was four times the amount of money they’d ever received in their life and four times they could possibly receive working in any job in the Palestinian authority. They got free healthcare as a part of their job. Really wasn’t free, but it was part of their job. They got paid vacation. And guess what? Jewish women and Muslim men worked side by side in that factory and got along. It was an amazing thing. I spent a full day there.
And without anybody around to hear, I got to talk to employees. And I asked them what it was like. They loved working there. Best work conditions they ever had, best job they ever had, best paycheck they ever had. But the BDS movement put so much pressure on Soda Stream that they eventually closed that factory in Judea. You know who really got hurt? Six hundred Palestinian families that went from having good paychecks and being upwardly mobile into the middle class to going back into abject poverty. That’s who got hurt the most.
So when Omar or Tlaib tries to tell the world that the Palestinians are being mistreated by the Israelis, I’m thinking no, you guys haven’t been there, you don’t know. And it’s time for a little truth telling.
This election is far more than just whether or not I personally pay more in taxes. It’s whether or not my grandchildren grow up in a constitutional republic in which they truly are able to live the American dream, which is that regardless of who their parents or their grandparents were, regardless of the color of their skin or their gender, regardless of their ethnicity, regardless of their geography; that they have a shot. Nothing guaranteed, but they at least have a shot. And they might be able to do something extraordinary, because they live in the greatest land on God’s green earth, the United States of America. And it’s our job to protect it and keep it that way.
I want to tell a story about a young father. He was worried that his kids were growing up to not appreciate what they had in America, and not to realize how many threats to freedom there had been through the ages. And so he took his children, and one of his children was a little girl, age 11 — awfully young — took her to Israel. He wanted her to understand why Israel existed. He wanted her to understand the Holocaust, what happened there and why, and how to prevent that it would ever happen again.
Now, he was a little worried that at age 11 she might be too young to get it, and it might be traumatic and overwhelming to her. But he wanted her to understand it. So he took her to Yad Vashem with the caveat that if it became too emotionally searing for her, he would just simply take her out. So he took her.
And as they walked through Yad Vashem, as it was laid out in a chronological order of what happened to the Jews as the Third Reich took power and began to take over neighborhoods in countries, she saw what happened when little children ages five and six were made to wear the Star of David prominently on their clothing. Not because it was a mark of distinction, but it was rather to isolate those children and to mark them, so they would be bullied by the other kids. She found it appalling that kids this young would be treated like this, not just by other kids who were mean and true bullies, but they would be treated like this because the government forced it upon the culture.
When they came to the part of Yad Vashem, she saw what happened on the Warsaw ghettos, where people were moved out of their homes. And they were stripped of all their belongings and then moved, many families at a time, into a tiny little space, and how little by little the families would be hauled on trains to the death camps. And many of the children would be left to themselves to fend for themselves in the cold streets of Warsaw.
She saw pictures of how the Nazis would aim their rifles at small children and shoot them like targets. And sometimes people said that really didn’t happen. Well, it did, because there’s photographs of it. And the saddest of all is that the photographs weren’t taken anonymously or even somehow in some clandestine manner. They were taken by the Nazis themselves, who took the pictures because they were actually proud of what they were doing. They photographed themselves murdering children on the streets.
And the little girl saw that and couldn’t believe those kind of things would happen. And when they came to the part of Yad Vashem in Jerusalem that depicted the horrors of the death camps, Auschwitz, where 10,000 people a day were murdered in cold blood — men, women, children — and she saw the horrors of that and the photos, the father hoped that the little girl would understand why it is that people have to speak up when they see evil. Why they can’t look the other way. Because that’s exactly why the Holocaust got as far as it did. People who knew it happened and looked the other way. And people who did not intervene and who didn’t speak up or stand up.
And the father was hoping that his daughter would somehow register this and it would get through to her, and it would have an impact upon her. But he was also concerned that it might be more than she could emotionally handle.
So at the end of Yad Vashem, when she had seen all of these incredible things to show just how evil people can be, and what hate really, really looks like — not the hate that people talk about on cable news, but real hate that results in people being murdered in cold blood for nothing other than their faith, just because they’re Jews. And he wanted his little girl to understand it. They came to the end of Yad Vashem, there was a podium and a guestbook on the podium. Little girl approached the podium, reached into her father’s pocket and took a pen. And she wrote her name and address. And right under that space for name and address, there was a place for comments. And the father leaned over his little girl’s shoulder to watch to see what she would write, because he thought it might give him some insight into exactly whether or not the message had gotten through.
And so as he stood over her, he watched her write words that he’ll never forget. Here’s what she wrote: “Why didn’t somebody do something?” Little girl, 11 years old. And her response was, “Why didn’t somebody do something?” Because it was inconceivable to her that people could see this going on and remain silent, and look the other way.
And with that, the little girl put the pen back in her father’s pocket. They walked out. She didn’t say a word for several hours. But that father never had to wonder whether or not the little girl got the message. And the reason that father can say that is because I’m that father. And that little girl was my daughter, Sarah —
— who later in life would go to a different podium, the one at the White House, and would stand and, with a sense of firmness, speak for her country and for her President. Because she had come to believe and understand that the way you lose a country and a civilization is when people just look the other way, and they don’t get involved.
We can’t afford, at this juncture in our country, to not get involved. And I believe that the person whose birthday we celebrate tonight has given us as true and as accurate a roadmap, and as true and accurate an understanding, of what is at stake and how we must take the battle, intellectually and politically, to our fellow citizens.
And it’s not just about winning the next election or our people being in power and maybe appointing us to some cool board. It’s about whether our grandchildren will live in freedom, and whether they will have the opportunities that I had as a kid, that no matter where I came from, it didn’t mean I was stuck there. And I wasn’t looking every day to see what the government was going to do for me. Because I realize that America was not built as a country based on what the government would do for me, but, as President Kennedy — a Democrat who would not be recognized by his own party today — said so beautifully, “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”
And folks, our country really needs us. And we really need David Horowitz and what he’s giving us.
Happy birthday, David. God bless you. And thank you very, very much.