Jesus is Huckabee’s (Political) Savior

We Rowdies had a good snicker a few weeks back over an outrageous piece of video in which a politician being grilled by a reporter refused to answer questions about his record and instead responded, seven times in one short interview, “Do you know Jesus loves you?”

Outrageous, right? Just an oddball backwater politician, right? An anomaly, right?

Wrong. The hottest presidential candidate in the country is using the same dodge masterfully as we blog.

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney is presently running ads in Iowa questioning former Baptist preacher Mike Huckabee about a series of “soft on crime” moves Huckabee allegedly made as Governor of Arkansas. Romney’s charges are demagogic, but he is raising the kind of issues that conservative activists care deeply about, so they might actually slow down the Iowa Huckaboom if they got traction.

With the stakes sky high and the Presidential nomination hanging in the balance, Huckabee’s response to the questioning is: “…what really matters is the celebration of the birth of Christ…”

That’s it. That’s the gist of the TV ad Huckabee put up in the wake of Romney’s questions.

In this spat, Romney will be portrayed as the crass Scrooge for daring to raise policy issues seventeen days before an election. I can hear the Grinch satire song now: “You’re a mean one, Mr. Mitt!”

But Romney is at least raising a policy issue that Presidents really do struggle with, criminal law and pardons. Citizens always say they want politicians to talk about “the issues” rather than empty platitudes, and that’s what Romney is doing. But, gross rating point-by-gross rating point, Huckabee clings to platitudes, behind the protective robe of Jesus, to avoid talking about his record as Governor.

“…what really matters is the celebration of the birth of Christ…”

“…what really matters is the celebration of the birth of Christ…”

“…what really matters is the celebration of the birth of Christ…”

It’s a savvy move to solidify his religious base and attract campaign weary, Christmas lovin’ Iowans. It very effectively sells him as a likeable guy. Therefore, Reverend Huckster will be lauded in the annals of political advertising history for his Silent Night strumming savoir faire. And it probably will help him win Iowa.

But it’s also every bit as slippery a response as the “do you know Jesus loves you” guy.

– Loveland

3 thoughts on “Jesus is Huckabee’s (Political) Savior

  1. jloveland says:

    And this from an AP story…

    “Catholic League president Bill Donahue said Huckabee went beyond wishing people a joyous holiday. Donahue said he was especially disturbed by the cross-like image created by a white bookcase in the background of the ad, saying he believed it was a subliminal message.

    ”What he’s trying to say to the evangelicals in western Iowa (is): I’m the real thing,” Donahue said Tuesday on Fox News Channel’s ”Fox and Friends. ”You know what, sell yourself on your issues, not on what your religion is.”

  2. bbenidt says:

    Huckabee is pandering every bit as much as George Wallace did to racists across the country in 1968. And, as with Wallace, I think he’s showing us the truth about himself — something that is rare in politics and even more rare in political advertising.

    From today’s NY Times: “‘I know this is probably a very controversial thing, but may I say to you, Merry Christmas!’ Mr Huckabee told an audience of 200 in Marshalltown on Thursday morning, as the crowd rose to its feet. Clearly delighted over a controversy set off by a recent campaign advertisement…”

    Huckabee is flogging Christ the way Giuliani is flogging 9/11 and terrorists.

    But — are we seeing cynical manipulation or are we being given a clear view of who Rev. Huck really is? I think this is who he is, and he’s manipulating it like a monkey alone in a cage. He is a committed Christian, and he’s making sure other committed Christians know what he’s about so they can vote for him. There was no mistaking what George Wallace was in 1968 (he later was less rabidly racist) and he sent messages that were not at all coded (it’s been hilarious to see TV commenflappers talk about the “subliminal message” in Huckabee’s TV ad when the message “I’m a Christian and so can you” [sorry, Colbert] was so mouth-gapingly overt).

    So good. In this long campaign we’re learning about these candidates. Mr. Huckabee believes Christianity has primacy in this nation. It’s as important to know that, because it’s about his values, beliefs and character, as it is to know what the thinks can be done in Iraq.

    A candidate’s religion — how she or he relates to the most confounding questions about life and death and good and meaning — is of course fair game for voters to consider.

    At least we know where Huckabee stands on something, which can’t be said for Slippery Mitt or Lady Focus Group. I couldn’t vote for someone whose views seem so restrictive and exclusive, but I appreciate getting a straight-up look at those views.

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