Peggy Noonan hits Huckabee the nail on the head

Not only does Peggy Noonan, herself a very religious woman, get what was wrong with Huckabee’s Christmas ad, her description of the scene’s careful staging puts the lie to Mike’s assertion that the whole cross image was just a fortuitous accident (kind of like seeing Christ in a tortilla, I guess):

I didn’t see the famous floating cross. What I saw when I watched Mike Huckabee’s Christmas commercial was a nice man in a sweater sitting next to a brightly lit tree. He had easy warmth and big brown puppy-dog eyes, and he talked about taking a break from politics to remember the peace and joy of the season. Sounds good to me.

Only on second look did I see the white lines of the warmly lit bookcase, which formed a glowing cross. Someone had bothered to remove the books from that bookcase, or bothered not to put them in. Maybe they would have dulled the lines.

Is there a word for “This is nice” and “This is creepy”? For that is what I felt. This is so sweet-appalling.

I love the cross. The sight of it, the fact of it, saves me, literally and figuratively. But there is a kind of democratic politesse in America, and it has served us well, in which we are happy to profess our faith but don’t really hit people over the head with its symbols in an explicitly political setting, such as a campaign commercial, which is what Mr. Huckabee’s ad was.

I wound up thinking this: That guy is using the cross so I’ll like him. That doesn’t tell me what he thinks of Jesus, but it does tell me what he thinks of me. He thinks I’m dim. He thinks I will associate my savior with his candidacy. Bleh.

The ad was shrewd. The caucus is coming, the TV is on, people are home putting up the tree, and the other candidates are all over the tube advancing themselves and attacking someone else. Mr. Huckabee thinks, I’ll break through the clutter by being the guy who reminds us of the reason for the season, in a way that helps underscore that I’m the Christian candidate and those other fellas aren’t. As a break from the nattering argument, as a message that highlights something bigger than politics, it was refreshing.

Was the cross an accident? Please. It was as accidental as Mr. Huckabee’s witty response, when he accused those of questioning the ad of paranoia, was spontaneous. “Actually I will confess this, if you play this spot backwards it says ‘Paul is dead, Paul is dead, Paul is dead,’ ” he said. As Bill Safire used to say of clever moves, “That’s good stuff!”

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Comments

  1. says

    Huckster has taken cheap shots at Romney because of his faith. I wouldn’t trust anyone willing to debase his purported religion just to eek out a minor political gain. Like so many of those crazy evangelical Biblethumpers, he is probably just another shill.

  2. says

    Shame on Mike Huckabee. It was Mike Huckabee who raised the issues of a religious test for office, Romney’s faith was a cult, and promoting himself as the “Christian Candidate”.

    Huckabee stands back and acts like an innocent, all the while framing questions about Romney’s faith to be questions of his character and integrity. Shame on Mike Huckabee.

    Paragraph 3, Article 6 of the U.S. Constitution reads, “. . . all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” – emphasis added.

    Well, so much for the Constitution in Huckabee‘s mind. On the campaign trail to the 2008 presidential election, religious bigotry has reared its ugly head. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is a Mormon. As his poll numbers continue to rise there is a sudden, alarming amazement, a dread resulting in utter confusion and dismay led by Mike Huckabee!

    In many denominations pastors rely on the church as their source of income. They are good, moral people whom, I believe, earnestly minister to their respective flocks. Yet, it is also their livelihood. Mormons do not pay their leaders and, doctrine aside, evangelical leaders have problems with that. Too, the rapid growth and retention rates of the Mormon Church, coupled with its superlative welfare system have only added grief to the evangelical leadership. So, from the evangelical seminaries to the smallest southern pulpit the Mormon doctrine is attacked.

    Never mind that one would be hard pressed to find a more humble, clean-living, patriotic, law-abiding and civic-minded group of people than a Mormon congregation. Never mind that the church’s name is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Never mind that two major articles of their faith are: We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost, and We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may. Mormons just cannot be Christians! But they are.

    Pastor turned candidate Mike Huckabee, while speaking (preaching) to the choir at the Values Summit said, “Faith is also threatened, and let me share with you how. I believe that there are many who will seek our support. But let me say that it’s important that people sing from their hearts, and don’t merely lip-synch the lyrics to our songs. I think it’s important that the language of Zion is a mother tongue, and not a recently acquired second language. It’s important that a person doesn’t have more positions on issues that Elvis had waist sizes.” Oh, that was subtle, and hateful. It is just pure religious bigotry; “you can only believe what we say you believe.” And it is offensive to the principle of religious freedom. Where do these ideas come from? Well, just ask Noah Crowe, a Southern Baptist pastor from North Carolina, there’s nothing Romney can do to overcome their distrust of Mormonism. “he studied Mormonism at his evangelical college in a course called Cults and False Religions. He claims there’s nothing Romney can do to overcome their ideas on Mormonism.

    Unfortunately in the evangelical south, such rhetoric has marginalized the most qualified presidential candidate, the one who most shares their value system. Moreover, this consternation is unwarranted.

    More than a few members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints have served in our Federal Government. Democrat Senator Harry Reid is the current senate majority leader. Ezra Taft Benson, Republican, served as Secretary of Agriculture in Eisenhower’s administration. J. Reuben Clark, Republican, was appointed U.S. State Department Solicitor. In 1928, he was appointed Undersecretary of State. In 1930, ambassador to Mexico. Most in the Republican party know of Paula Hawkins of Florida, Gordon Smith of Oregon, Ron Packard and Ivy Baker Priest of California, and, of course, Orrin Hatch. Democrats know Stewart Udall of Arizona, Tom Udall of New Mexico, Ralph Harding of Idaho

    Indeed, on famousmormons.net Stephen M. Studdert, Special Assistant to President Reagan says, “Ronald Reagan truly admired the Latter-day Saints. His administration included more members of the Church than any other American president, ever. Three of us, David Fischer, Gregory Newell and I, served on his personal White House staff. Richard Wirthlin was his chief strategist. Terrel Bell served as Secretary of Education, Bay Buchanan was Treasurer, Rex Lee was Solicitor General. His White House included Roger Porter, Brent Scowcroft, Richard Beal, Blake Parish, Jon Huntsman, Dodie Borup and Rocky Kuonen, and there were many other Latter-day Saints throughout his Administration.

    The list goes on and on. Many more members have served in high and trusted positions throughout the world in business, medicine, law, education, media, sports, and entertainment. Thank goodness. After all, “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

  3. swampacreage says

    Ambitious people on missions whether they are religious,secularists,capitalists,liberals,conservatives or would be presidents etc don’t leave things to chance.No accident but could backfire !

  4. InkMiser says

    I agree with Noonan to a point. I’m a lawyer and once had a client come to me about his mortgage loan. After I examined the loan documentation, I broke the news to him that his mortgage lender had defrauded him. He looked at me indignantly and said that was impossible because the loan officer was a Christian. In fact, he assured me, the loan officer had talked much about his faith and had even prayed with him and his wife.

    I told him that if someone uses religion to sell you something, it’s probably because he doesn’t want you to look at the product too closely.

    Because Huckabee is selling his religion instead of his positions, everyone should examine at the product more closely.

    That said, I don’t find the “floating cross” to be troubling. For crying out loud, the man reminds us directly that we are celebrating Christ’s birth. When someone directly asserts his belief, why is anyone concerned about the indirect representation of that belief? At least he is honest about his belief. But then again, so was Hillary in her ad!

  5. Ellie says

    I, too, did not see the “cross” at first viewing. Part of me (the part that gets mail from citizens seeing penises in ice-cubes in print ads) thinks “screwball.

    While I will not vote for Mitt,I will also not vote for Huck.

  6. zhombre says

    Ellie, like you, Rudy is my main man but I will vote for Romney if the alternative is restoring Hill & Bill to the WH or electing the Oprahized Obama President. Btw off topic did anyone see that Hillary Clinton Christmas themed advertisement? Even Chris Matthews said she came off like an American Evita. I thought Bill and Hill’s Soprano mimicry was sufficient appalling but this new ad goes a few clicks south of appalling. The Clinton machine’s political expertise may be vastly overrated.

  7. jj says

    I will say one thing, and feel free to shout it down.

    If you’ve ever spent time hanging around sets (I have, and do), then it is no stretch at all to believe that the appearance of the magic cross was indeed an accident. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people talk about the “symbolism” plainly apparent in a shot from a movie where I was there that day, on set – and perfectly aware that all anybody was trying to do when the deeply symbolic scene was shot was finish the $%$#@!! shot in time to get everyone out before overtime kicked in. Any symbolism was purely accidental.

    Been in lots of conversations that went like this:

    Symbolism enthusiast; “Wow, you guys really underscored the whole thing in that scene where… (whatever.)”

    Cinematographer, cameraman, director, sound guys, lighting guys, etc.: “Huh?”

    However, all that said, it is very nicely lit, which could be an indication of deliberation – but then it’s painted white and would show up in a tracking shot pretty much no matter what.

    Dunno – I don’t like or trust Huckabee an inch, but I have to tell you: it isn’t that tough to believe him when he says that this highly profound scene was unintended, and an entire accident, despite what Peggy Noonan supposes.

    It happens, and anybody who goes looking for symbolism generally finds some.

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