Five days after the tornado tore through the state, [Arkadelphia, Ark., a] city of 10,000 lay in ruins. The cyclone destroyed an office building, a bank, a pharmacy and 70 other businesses. The electricity was out. The National Guard patrolled the streets. Six people were dead.In Little Rock, GOP Gov. Mike Huckabee was reviewing a disaster insurance measure that he intended to support when he became troubled: The bill, drawing on centuries-old legal terminology, referred to natural disasters as "acts of God."
In a time of emergency, Huckabee would hold up the measure for more than three weeks to press his personal objection that the Almighty could not be blamed for the region's loss. In the process, he drew damaging headlines and created new strains in his relations with the state's legislature, the General Assembly.
Now, to be fair, it's worth noting that there's no indication that Huckabee's decision to delay the bill adversely affected anyone. But the state legislation in question sought to protect tornado victims from insurance companies that might cancel their policies, and used language -- "acts of God" -- which is standard in the law and in many insurance policies. Nevertheless, Huckabee refused to even consider disaster relief until the bill's wording was changed to meet his worldview.
One state senator noted, "Instead of getting focused on getting aid to the areas, he's in an uproar over words. It was kind of silly."
Huckabee told Tim Russert yesterday that the best way to consider whether he would blend religion and public policy as president is to look at "how I served as a governor." That's hardly reassuring.