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Gail Collins: There To Make MoDo and Bobo Look Smart

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I forgot to blog about this on Thursday, but this has to rank as one of the most remarkable recent paragraphs written on the increasingly embarrassing NYT op-ed page:

Lately, anti-Huckabee conservatives have been suggesting he’s soft on crime. The story involves an Arkansas man, Wayne DuMond, who was accused of kidnapping and raping a high school cheerleader in 1985. While he was free awaiting trial, masked men broke into his home, beat and castrated him. His testicles wound up in a jar of formaldehyde, on display on the desk of the local sheriff. At the trial, he was sentenced to life plus 20 years. When Huckabee became governor, DuMond was still in an apparently hopeless situation, though theoretically eligible for parole. Huckabee championed his cause, and wrote him a congratulatory letter when he was finally released in 1999. Then in 2000 DuMond moved to Kansas City, where he sexually assaulted and murdered a woman who lived near his home.

“There’s nothing you can say, but my gosh, it’s the thing you pray never happens,” the clearly tortured Huckabee recently told The National Review. “And it did.” If by some miracle he became the presidential nominee, there would obviously be many opportunities to point out that Michael Dukakis never sent a letter to Willie Horton celebrating his furlough.

Why do the leaders of the religious right keep sidling away from a Baptist minister whose greatest political sin seems to have been showing compassion to a prisoner who appeared to deserve it?

Tristero and Somerby point out the rather massive gap in the story here: that DuMond was released not out of some independent sense of compassion but because a wingnut campaign on his behalf was launched because the woman DuMond raped was a distant relative of Bill Clinton. There also doesn’t seem to be any corroborating evidence that DuMond was the victim of a vigilante attack, which is the presumed source of the “compassion” allegedly demonstrated by Huckabee (unless Collins wants to argue for early parole for serial rapists on the merits.) This was not just a parole that happened under Huckabee’s watch, but one he personally intervened to secure. Was this result of a careful assessment of the facts? Where did he get the information that made him decide that keeping DuMond in prison was unjust? Er:

The state official who advised Huckabee on the Dumond case confirmed that the governor knew very little about Ashley Stevens’ case:

“I don’t believe that he had access to, or read, the law enforcement records or parole commission’s files — even by then,” the official said. “He already seemed to have made up his mind, and his knowledge of the case appeared to be limited to a large degree as to what people had told him, what Jay Cole had told him, and what he had read in the New York Post.”

Jay Cole, like Huckabee, is a Baptist minister, pastor for the Mission Fellowship Bible Church in Fayetteville and a close friend of the governor and his wife. On the ultra-conservative radio program he hosts, Cole has championed the cause of Wayne Dumond for more than a decade.

Cole has repeatedly claimed that Dumond’s various travails are the result of Ashley Stevens’ distant relationship to Bill Clinton.

The governor was also apparently relying on information he got from Steve Dunleavy, first as a correspondent for the tabloid television show “A Current Affair” and later as a columnist for the New York Post.

Much of what Dunleavy has written about the Dumond saga has been either unverified or is demonstrably untrue. Dunleavy has all but accused Ashley Stevens of having fabricated her rape, derisively referring to her in one column as a “so-called victim,” and brusquely asserting in another, “That rape never happened.”

The columnist wrote that Dumond was a “Vietnam veteran with no record” when in fact he did have a criminal record. He claimed there existed DNA evidence by “one of the most respected DNA experts in the country” to exonerate Dumond, even though there was no such evidence. He wrote that Bill Clinton had personally intervened to keep Dumond in prison, even though Clinton had recused himself in 1990 from any involvement in the case because of his distant relationship with Stevens.

“The problem with the governor is that he listens to Jay Cole and reads Steve Dunleavy and believes them … without doing other substantative work,” the state official said.

Had Huckabee examined in detail the parole board’s files regarding Dumond, he would have known Dumond had compiled a lengthy criminal resume.

Interesting definition of “compassion” there. The bottom line is that a woman is dead, not as a tragic consequence of an imperfect parole system but because Huckabee went along with crackpot anti-Clinton conspiracy nuts and released someone with a significant history of violence and sexual assault. Seems like something worth considering when determining if someone would make a good president for me. But that would mean returning to the lunatic war on the Clintons, in which the Times was frequently complicit, and we can’t have that!

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