Huckabee Put On Defense Over 'Christ' Ad

By now, you've probably seen Mike Huckabee's new "Christ" ad. I actually think this ad is quite effective; even though he frames Christmas in overtly religious terms, I don't think it's necessarily alienating to those like me who are proud to be a part of the secular left. I'm actually far more offended by Mitt Romney's anti-secularist rhetoric, leaving out the faithless from the groups of Americans he hopes to lead and then on Meet The Press equating religion and morality as though you can't have the latter without the former. Huckabee comes across not as a crazy cook imposing his views on me but rather expressing his views in a warm and, may I say, politically pitch perfect manner. Of course this is why he's so dangerous, but interestingly, the most pushback Huck is getting for this ad is from an outspoken conservative religious leader.

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."

This is yet another example of Huckabee getting attacked from the right because he threatens their power; he's gotten it from all three legs of that stupid conservative stool Romney's always talking about: the econocons, the neocons and now the theocons. It almost makes me want to come to Huck's defense, the enemy of your enemy and all that. Almost.

As for the white cross subliminal messaging, Donahue may be onto something. I actually didn't notice it the first time (I saw shelves) but watch the ad below, how can it not be intentional?

And as if you needed one more thing to reluctantly like Huckabee for, his response is pretty good too:

"If we are so politically correct in this country that a person can't say enough of the nonsense with the political attack ads could we pause for a few days and say Merry Christmas to each other then we're really, really in trouble as a country," Huckabee said. [...]

Huckabee said the bookshelf is just a bookshelf and shrugged off the controversy: "I will confess this: If you play the spot backwards it says, 'Paul is dead. Paul is dead.'"

As a sidenote, notice that the ad has more than 500,000 views in just one day. I'll be curious to see how the other Republican candidate videos have done; something tells me Huckabee wins the GOP YouTube primary hands down.

Tags: 2008 Presidential election, Mike Huckabee, Republican primary (all tags)

Comments

34 Comments

Re: Huckabee Put On Defense Over 'Christ' Ad

this is like the Shaheen and Kerrey attacks on Obama just enough plausable deniability.

by nevadadem 2007-12-18 05:49PM | 0 recs
Re: Huckabee Put On Defense Over 'Christ' Ad

This is just as bad, as Romney if not worse. By not saying happy holidays he excludes not only non-believers, but all non-Christians. You may not realize it but he running to be president of the United States and there are a few non-Christians here.

by benb 2007-12-18 06:08PM | 0 recs
Re: Huckabee Put On Defense Over 'Christ' Ad

While I'll concede this probably does not apply to Huckabee, many people say Merry Christmas out of sheer habit y'know. They don't all hate non-Christians.

by MNPundit 2007-12-18 06:45PM | 0 recs
So if I say Merry Christmas

I'm a bigot?

by RandyMI 2007-12-18 07:55PM | 0 recs
Re: Huckabee Put On Defense Over 'Christ' Ad

So it is offensive for the man to wish a Merry Christmas? How is it offensive? Why are non christians so offended by the mere sentiment of wishing merry christmas? give me a freaking break with this bull political correctness.......I am as are mor eand more americans growing tired of the whining coming from those who are" offended" by religion.....and by the way Kwanza isnt even a real relgious holiday....it was invented by a radical in the 1960's as an attempt to refute Christmas and create racial division...

by adbct 2007-12-19 04:46AM | 0 recs
Re: Huckabee Put On Defense Over 'Christ' Ad

I'm an atheist and I'm not offended by anyone wishing me a Merry Christmas. Nor am I offended by Happy Hannakuh. No one has actually wished me a Joyous Kwanzaa, but I think it would be nice.

Atheists don't necessarily hate our deluded brothers and sisters. I, personally, don't see how anyone could be offended by someone wishing them a happy time and urging them to join their celebration.

You don't have to believe in a deity to think it's a good idea to have a day set aside for reflecting on Peace and Good Will Towards Our Fellow Humans.
In this country, it's Christmas for historical reasons.
 

by antiHyde 2007-12-19 06:46AM | 0 recs
Donahue's just pissed he didn't think of it first.

If I'm going to judge the morality of an ad, I'm certainly not going to take the word of a dirtbag like Donahue.

Go back to Fox News and leave us humans alone, Wild Bill.

by Bush Bites 2007-12-18 06:19PM | 0 recs
Re: Huckabee Put On Defense Over 'Christ' Ad

I didn't notice the cross the first time I watched it either. Instead, I was kind of creeped out by the fact that as the commercial progresses, the background moves as if the camera is revolving around Huckabee, but Huckabee himself isn't moving at all. Really, it was kind of freaky the first time I saw it.

If Huckabee wins the nomination (which I still think will probably go to Romney), this is the sort of thing that will be good to use to define him. In 2000, Bush called himself a "compassionate conservative" and won over the independents that thought they were more moral than Bill Clinton. In 2004, his "steady leadership" won over the "security moms" and got him a victory.

So far, Mike Huckabee has identified himself as the Christian Candidate. It solidifies the base, but it doesn't expand the Republican coalition the way Bush did (briefly, each time). Huckabee's not going to appeal to any independents who don't already identify with the GOP, and will only alienate other independents. If he keeps this kind of thing up, I think that offers the Democratic nominee a clear line of contrast, and will help reach out to the majority of America that doesn't want a theocracy.

by Fitzy 2007-12-18 06:20PM | 0 recs
this is why Huckabee might actually be the weakest

of all the GOP factions, the main three, social-con national security-con and fiscal-con, the social cons are the one we're least likely to be able to tap into.  their main focus as we all know is anti-gay, anti-abortion, pro-gun.  while some democrats can be any or all of those, based on values, region, or just where they represent, nationally it would be impossible to lure over large numbers of social cons without alienating our voters.  fiscal and national security cons are easier though.  Ayu-Huck's populistic message will certainly hurt him with fiscal cons, especially if Hillary is the nominee.  her reported support of Lobbyists, coupled with the democrats being the chief recipients of wall street and corporate dollars since winning in 06 could shift some fiscal cons over to us.  how this would affect the soul of the party down the line is still unknown and concerns me, but in the short term, this could help.  national security cons could also be brought over.  Ayu-Huck's strategy of "hey, let's find out why people hate us, and then see if we can adjust our actions," rather than BOMB EVERYONE WHO'S NOT US!!!!!!!  could scare the NS-cons over our nominee, once again, especially if it's Hillary. (note, i'm not a hillary supporter, i'm just going on the perceptions she's created).  meanwhile, the most we could hope for from the soc-cons is that if rudy gets the nom some of them stay home.  all in all i'd say Ayu-Huck may not be as dangerous as percieved.  

by Doug Tuttle 2007-12-18 07:40PM | 0 recs
Re: Huckabee Put On Defense Over 'Christ' Ad

This ad is effective and reminds the right wing Christian constituency he is one of them. He is not running for president in the secularist blogosphere so I wouldn't expect this ad to be well received here. And the fact it is done as a "non-political" feel-good makes it doubly effective.

by cmpnwtr 2007-12-18 06:23PM | 0 recs
Re: Huckabee Put On Defense Over 'Christ' Ad

Huckabee is great.

The other Republicans keep hammering him for being "soft on crime" and "weak on immigration", but they fail to realize his voters couldn't care less about those issues.  Huck has proved himself (and this attack allows him to do so again) to be VERY in touch with the values and attitudes of the Christian conservative voter.

This is FORCING a showdown between the evangelicals (who have found their candidate) and the taxcut/warmonger Republican establishment because the candidates the establishment have rolled out are simply NOT credible on the issues evangelicals care about.

Mark my word, the Republican establishment WILL NOT allow Huckabee to secure the nomination, but they are going to have to PUSH HARD to keep him out of it, and every evangelical Huckabee supporter is watching.  The harder the establishment has to push to keep him out, the more evangelicals they will piss off, and there goes the ballgame.

The complete dissolution of the "Reagan coalition."

Go Huckabee!

by ArkansasLib 2007-12-18 06:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Huckabee Put On Defense Over 'Christ' Ad

I sure hope you are right. I think it would be a sad day for American Democracy for the Republican nomination to be won by this guy.

by KainIIIC 2007-12-18 06:35PM | 0 recs
Re: Huckabee Put On Defense Over 'Christ' Ad

I would say that that day would be the day George W. Bush won the nomination.

by antiHyde 2007-12-19 06:51AM | 0 recs
Re: Huckabee Put On Defense Over 'Christ' Ad

I think you're right.

In fact, I would almost wonder if Mike Huckabee, in some small way - is the Howard Dean of the 2008 GOP primary field.

Forget the buzz and money - I'm talking about the guy that really rattles the party powerbrokers.   As I said downthread - while his poll numbers keep rising, and I can absolutely see how he "sells in Peoria" to the evangelical voters, Huckabee seems to drive the party chiefs and head cheerleaders NUTS!

My suspicion is that they don't like his packaging -- too much aw shucks/nice guy, not enough demonizing -- but this is certainly another possibility... that Huckabee becomes the nail that splits the GOP into factions never to again be so united.

by zonk 2007-12-18 06:41PM | 0 recs
Re: Huckabee Put On Defense Over 'Christ' Ad

The establishment is concerned because Huck really believes what he says and they don't sense in him the malleable idiot who could be tricked/coerced into cutting taxes during a war...in other words he wouldn't actively work to fully dismantle the last remnants of the new deal.

I'm thoroughly enjoying this...the useful idiots don't want to be played anymore.

I also wonder if it wasn't Huck's campaign that placed the guy in McCain rally that asked him whether or not he had accepted Jesus as his personal savior, and McCain after all of his useless kissing of Falwell's ass wouldn't give a straight yes or no answer!  Bee-yoo-tiful.

by ArkansasLib 2007-12-18 08:14PM | 0 recs
Re: Huckabee Put On Defense Over 'Christ' Ad

He's turned hard-line on immigration, however. Which is the main reason he doesn't frighten me too much. If he kept up a more compassionate rhetoric, he might have a shot at more culturally conservative and religious Hispanic voters.

by Englishlefty 2007-12-19 04:16AM | 0 recs
Re: Huckabee Put On Defense Over 'Christ' Ad

Guess Ron Paul weighed in on the ad too:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2007/12/18 /huckabees-christmas-ad-_n_77315.html

Used the line about fascism coming to this country wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross.

by Bush Bites 2007-12-18 06:34PM | 0 recs
Huckabee fascinates me

I'm amazed at the sort of "tao of Huck".

Despite his rise in the polls - I see nothing but absolute hatred for the man on the right-leaning blogosphere, talk radio, and even leading 'voices' on the right (No, Chuck Norris does not qualify as a "leading voice").

I posted a bit about this in previous Huck thread - before I bought into his rising poll numbers.  

I'm really wondering if there's a pathology permeating the 'vocal right'... The Malkins, the Goldbergs, the Limbaughs, the Coulters - even the simple poster at freeper or LGF or RS - their message has never really been one of 'hope'.  It's never been "what we would accomplish with the obstructionist democrats" -- it's "enemies", the secularists, the communists, the islamonazis, the traitors, feminists, scientists, lawyers - and the unending need to destroy them.  

Forget Karl Rove, it's Lee Atwater on steroids.  

I think the key difference between the two generations, though -- the Atwater generation actually had an agenda they wanted to implement.   The Rove generation doesn't really care too much about the agenda - they just want to demolish the opposition.

Huckabee's got the agenda - but he's not selling it the way they want it sold.  Sure - Huck's got an economic populist streak, but as his tax proposal shows, it's hardly an unbending principle.

I think Todd nailed it with the comparison between Romney's speech on secular enemies and Huckabee's ad... it's the whole tactical approach.   Romney may not be the darling - but you'll find extensive pockets of Romney support around different corners of the right-side blogosphere.   I don't think this is because they - the screaming banshees - "trust" Romney on some social conservative agenda more than Huckabee, it's because he speaks their language.

by zonk 2007-12-18 06:35PM | 0 recs
Re: Huckabee fascinates me

They just want to keep the Fundies in their place.

They probably expected Huck to be another Pat Robertson. He'd run to keep the Fundies in the tent and not pick up many votes.

Most of the Repub opinion leaders are personally and professionally corrupt and immoral. Last thing they want is a Sunday School teacher in charge.

Too bad.

by Bush Bites 2007-12-19 02:49AM | 0 recs
Don't read that much into it.

As a professional TV & Film Art Director I think that this is a case of clients and viewers reading messages and images into every stupid mundane detail. Sometimes a book case is just a book case.

If I was trying to be clever and wanted to sell that cross I would have tracked that camera around and ended with the cross over his shoulder. But it only comes in to view for a brief moment in the middle of a camera move.  It's gone before you even think to notice it.

What gets me is that it's not the cross that says "I'm the religious guy". Did you notice the Christmas Tree? Did you see a Minorah or Kwanza __ (fill in the Kwnaza themed thingy here) ? No you didn't. This is Christmas wishes for Christians. OK fine. I have no problem with that as a Democrat. It proves that he is not the candidate for everyone . He is the candidate that only sees Christians.

by JJonMyDD 2007-12-18 06:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Don't read that much into it.

Oh and by the way... He put the Christ back in Christmas...

Remember that one?

Happy Holida... Oh I mean Merry Christmas to all my Christian supporters.

by JJonMyDD 2007-12-18 06:50PM | 0 recs
Re: Huckabee Put On Defense Over 'Christ' Ad

My token conservative friend was supporting Huckabee but dropped him in the wake of this advertisement.

Here's another look at it, from a satirical point of view:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-BNc531h oQ

by jedreport 2007-12-18 07:01PM | 0 recs
Re: Huckabee Put On Defense Over 'Christ' Ad

Don't tell me.

There's a hanging dog in the background, right?

by Bush Bites 2007-12-19 02:50AM | 0 recs
Who DARES to Criticize the Bookshelf?!

If you think that cross-shaped bookshelf, floating behind Huckabee, was a coincidence...then I have a bridge in Brooklyn I would like to sell you.  Political ads are set, cast, scripted, filmed and edited with meticulous attention to details.

This ad uses intentional, breathtakingly subliminal messaging. If Huckabee chooses to deny it, he is a liar.  

Huckabee impresses me as a very devout and skillful liar. Where did he learn to lie like that? Can somebody in Arkansas please explain this style of lying to me?  

My guess is that Huckabee hopes to milk his lie about this ad into a media controversy, such that he can then be seen in the media as standing up for the "cross"...er...I mean, "bookshelf" against its detractors.

This man has absolutely no shame.

by Demo37 2007-12-18 07:17PM | 0 recs
Re: Huckabee Put On Defense Over 'Christ' Ad

Donahue??  The guy who bitches that Christmas isn't Christian enough is mad that Huckabee is TOO Christian?  That is ripe!

It's hard not to like Huckabee... but, what kind of threat is he.  I think he's a lock for the presidency if he gets nominated ('cos he's the warm, fuzzy, likeable guy that American voters are obsessed with), but the right wingers think he'll get less electoral votes than Mondale...

I'm confused, really... What, they don't like "compassionate conservatives" anymore?

Thanks,

Mike

by lordmikethegreat 2007-12-18 07:25PM | 0 recs
Huck's Briar Patch

Attacking Huckabee over this ad will make him stronger among evangelicals. The smart thing anyone should do is leave it alone.

As for Donohue, he's a slimeball anyway.

by RandyMI 2007-12-18 07:54PM | 0 recs
Re: Huckabee Put On Defense Over 'Christ' Ad

Can anyone remember if Donohue went off on the RNC for their podium/pulpit at the 2004 Republican Convention?

http://www.beliefnet.com/imgs/tout/story /RNC_podium.jpg

Yeah, thought not.

by Jay R 2007-12-18 07:58PM | 0 recs
Re: Huckabee Put On Defense Over 'Christ' Ad

Huckabee's ad does not compare to Bush's visit to Bob Jones University. Donohue would have been gleeful if there was a picture of the pope.

by RandyMI 2007-12-18 08:08PM | 0 recs
Re: Huckabee Put On Defense Over 'Christ' Ad

Man, he is one cunning, clever son-of-a-b*tch.  I've been watching this guy with a mixture of admiration and apprehension since very early in the piece, and now I am getting très concerned.  He is not going to be easy to beat.  Best case scenario is the Republicans have to nuke him so bad they suffer serious collateral damage, but he is look more and more like the Terminator in a collar to me.  If they don't destroy him we are in for a Nantucket sleigh-ride of a campaign.

He would eat Hillary for breakfast and then smile about it, dear Lord don't make it so.  Even Obama is going to have his hands full with this guy.  They may end up each other's vice-president.

by Shaun Appleby 2007-12-18 11:29PM | 0 recs
Donahue is a Jerk

Wait a sec? Donahue from the Catholic League is attacking Huckabee? For what, wearing his evangelicalism on his sleeve. The same guy who went after Kerry because his religious director spoke at an AIDS rally(that' some how anti-Catholic is his view). The same guy who went all out for W?

If you didn't know it before, "The Catholic League" is part of the right-win GOP machine. If Romney put out an ad like this, you better believe Romney would have kept his mouth shut. Spouting religion, as long as you defend the perogatives of the neo-cons and the business eleite in the party, is ok bt him.  

by alexmhogan 2007-12-19 02:26AM | 0 recs
utah

this is a weird one, but if the aHyUCK (trying to turn his name into Goofy's laugh, not sure how to spell it) keeps the evangical/mormon spat going, really starts covertly insulting mormons and AHyUCK gets the nom, would enough of Utahs electorate (strongly mormon) sit out the election to put it in play?  or at least get us into the upper 30's-low 40's?

by Doug Tuttle 2007-12-19 04:56AM | 0 recs
Re: Huckabee Put On Defense Over 'Christ' Ad

I think Huckabee meant to say the bolded part instead of the crossed-out part - surely an accidental oversight:

"If we are so politically correct in this country that a person can't say enough of the nonsense with the political attack ads could we pause for a few days and say Merry Christmas to each other people in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, then we're really, really in trouble as a country."

by RT 2007-12-19 06:39AM | 0 recs
It's fun to see them savage each other!

In the words of Jack Handey, "It's sad that a family can be torn apart by something as simple as a pack of wild dogs."

In this case, the GOP family is the pack of wild dogs.  It's great to see them turn on one another.  Go, Huckster!  Go, Catholic League!  Kill, kill, kill!

by RT 2007-12-19 06:43AM | 0 recs
Re: Huckabee Put On Defense Over 'Christ' Ad

Subliminal????!!!!!  The cross is the brightest thing in the ad. It is the only thing that moves (it is alive??). It is significantly brighter than Huckabee himself.

I still can't see a shelf, as in a set of horizontal planes on which items are places. I see one vertical and one horizontal, shining brightly.

JJonMyDD: It does not "come on briefly in the middle of a camera move." It IS the camera move. It comes on right at the outset of the ad and dominates the darkened background (Huckabee included)for at least 10 seconds out of the 30-second spot. Then it is slowly replaced by Huckabee's own beatific face. My jaw dropped when I saw it.

If any film director did this in a feature, he or she would be pounded by the critics for being so obvious.

Huckabee is entitled to send any message he wants to send, but this is an absolutely overt plea for Christian support in a secular political contest.

by anoregonreader 2007-12-19 08:53AM | 0 recs

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