Did he or didn’t he? Only the big guy upstairs knows for sure.
The ‘he’ is Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee, who was in Cedar Rapids last night. He spoke to roughly 200 people gathered for an Iowa Christian Alliance fundraiser at Elite Homes.
You could give some money to the ICA, hear the Baptist preacher who would be president and pick out some darn nice window treatments. Now that’s one-stop shopping.
What Huckabee did, according to some pundits, is make sure the camera shooting his latest Merry Christmas TV ad caught a cross created by shelves on piece of furniture in the background. Staged or not, the bright white cross does sort of float eerily next to his talking head.
Chattering meaning searchers from the left clear over to Peggy Noonan on the right say it was a blatant/shrewd use of imagery for a candidate trying to seal the deal with evangelical voters, especially in Iowa.
The way Huckabee tells it, the cross was an accident. He swears on a stack of Bibles. Well, maybe not.
He says the ad was shot hastily in one take because he was suffering from a throat infection and wanted to call it a day. The spot, he says, was intended for his Web site and only later did the campaign decide to put it on TV as an antidote to a swarm of negative campaign ads.
“Let’s change the tone of the conversation,” he said.
He said the crew shot it in front of a Christmas tree and didn’t give any thought to the white bookcase and it’s religious background. Huckabee also gives a birthday shout-out to Jesus Christ, which many have noted is somewhat unusual for an American campaign ad.
Planned or not, Huckabee’s flock has to be pretty pleased how this is working out. Perhaps it was divine intervention.
For one, he gets to riff before righty crowds about how dumb, godless and out of touch the news media is. “I’ve been called a fascist and a knuckle-dragger. And those are the nicer things,” Huckabee said, arguing that we wouldn’t have batted an eye if he had taken the Lord’s name in vain.
(In this atmosphere, I respectfully disagree with that one. I think swearing in an ad would draw some ink and Web space. How about you?)
Second, he gets to re-stoke the`war on Christmas’ story line that dark secular forces are trying to take Christ out of Christmas and silence Christians. “Even if we shut up, the stones will cry out,” Huckabee said, paraphrasing the Good Book to cheers and a few amens.
Maybe his campaign is indeed just a spontaneous lark where ads are shot with little planning or thought. Sure.
What is clear is that the tone of Huckabee’s surging campaign is different than it was back in the Summer when he was running in the single digits.
Perhaps it was just his audience last night, but the compassionate, hopeful stuff he used to say about health care for the poor, about caring for people even after they’re born and how government shouldn’t leave the less-fortunate hanging out to dry was noticeably absent.
Instead, he was channeling Sam Brownback.
“The Bible was not written to be changed. The Constitution was,” Huckabee said to cheers while arguing for an amendment to ban gay marriage, which he said threatens to destroy civilization as we know it. As does legal abortion and the IRS.
I’m a Christian, but that line is sort of scary. I like my Bible and my Constitution to sit on different shelves in the bookcase. Even the holiest of bookcases.
Huckabee, who was once a fresh voice, is starting to sound like the same old stale communion wafers. I pray I’m all wrong.