Friday, December 28, 2007

What's the Matter

Okay, so I let the Huckabee ad sit for a little while, and I still don't like it much. I know he's going after a particular demographic--right wing evangelicals (no, that is not necessarily redundant). But sitting in front of a floating cross and doing your best to show that you are the Real Christian in the race is creepy, and scary, and smacks of propaganda at best and fascism at worst.

I know politicians are opportunists; that's the way it's done. But using the birth of Christ is too much for me. There's no need for Mike Huckabee to remind people that he is a person of faith--he's a Baptist pastor, for goodness' sake. There's also no need for Mike Huckabee to remind people of faith that Christmas is about the birth of Christ. And there's no point in trying to remind those who don't care, as well. People aren't going to discover the true meaning of Christmas in a campaign ad.

But clearly it is important for Mike Huckabee to position himself as the candidate of the religious right. I'm a little surprised that he seems to be their only candidate. After they elected, and re-elected George W. Bush, one would think the Republican party would throw a few more bones to the Christian right. But nearly all of the GOP candidates seem to be folks who not only won't excite this part of the base, but are more likely to irritate them.

You wouldn't want to irritate Pat Robertson, would you?

Actually, maybe so. The problem with the Christian right is that their most high profile folks seem to prone to spectacular rises and equally dramatic falls. Here are a few names to illustrate my point:

Jim Bakker
Jimmy Swaggart
Ralph Reed
Ted Haggard

All of these fellows, with the possible exception of Ralph, are the punch lines to a barrel full of jokes. Ralph Reed is just a guy who rode the coattails of the "Christian Coalition" to a position of influence and subsequent corruption. He was once the darling of the party. By 2006, he couldn't get himself elected Lieutenant Governor of Georgia. Ouch.

There are a bunch more names. Certainly we can add Pat Robertson, who is no longer relevant in national politics since his mouth just won't stop venturing into Crazy Town.

In the interest of fairness and balance, there are plenty of scandals on the other side of the political/religious fence. But it's just more interesting when pretenders to the throne of American morality fall on their derrieres (or the attractive derrieres of secretaries and male prostitutes). Americans love irony, even if we can't always recognize it. It's dang funny, and tragic, when Larry Craig, virulently anti-gay senator, gets caught soliciting sex from a man in a bathroom.

Since it's more interesting, it's a bigger liability. It's safe to assume that none of the candidates will ask Senator Craig to campaign for them. Even in Idaho. I'm thinking Mr. Potatohead will get you a lot more votes in Idaho.

Votes are the bottom line. As much as money seems to be the measure of viability in politics today, ultimately you don't get elected unless people vote for you. While the Christian Right comes with a whole bunch of votes, it also comes with a whole bunch of baggage. And it seems as if the Republican party isn't so much interested in carrying those bags across the election day threshhold any more.

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