Dec 18, 2007

On Mike Huckabee, Religious Imagery, and Politics as Usual

Mike Huckabee and the controversial cross ad The media is having a feeding frenzy over the new advertisement by presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, which includes a Merry Christmas message from the former Arkansas governor declares that "what really matters is the celebration of the birth of Christ." You can follow this link to see the Mike Huckabee ad with the purported cross in its entirety.

Typical of the responses is that of Bill Donahue, the president of the Catholic League.

"The whole idea is to give the appearance of a cross," Donahue said. "This is just injecting religion into politics even too far for guys like me... Every other word out of [Huckabee's] mouth is that 'I'm Christian.'"

My suspicion is that the Huckabee people knew exactly what they were doing, and that they purposely illuminated the window in a cross-like fashion in a rope-a-dope attempt to make Huckabee look like the victim of Christian-bashing. I imagine that a response from a Huckabee spokesperson will go something like this:

"No, we did not intend to put a 'subliminal' cross in the ad, and the Mike's opponents are once again just trying to smear him for his faith. But yes, now that you mention it, the window does look like a cross, and Mike Huckabee is proud that he is a Christian. Next question."

I think that this ad is political brilliance (while also being an example of shameless pimping of one's faith), and that the chorus of condemnation in the media is merely a group of suckered pundits who have yet to realize that they took the bait.

Left: Montage of major American politicians depicted in a religious manner; click for full-size image

Huckabee, of course, is hardly the first politician to use religious imagery as a way of subtly appealing to voters for whom religion is a primary factor in their decisions about candidates. Pictured on the left is a montage of political heavyweights from both sides of the aisle whose photographs and portraits make them look, well, kind of holy.

Admittedly, some of the shots have as much to do with the motivations and intentions of the individual photographers, but I have yet to hear politicians complain when their public images contain sneaky halos, Stars of David, or crosses.

Huckabee, thus, is merely the latest in a long line of politicians who have used their religious faith as a political tool to sway voters. People like Bill Donahue should take a deep breath and recognize that this is, unfortunately, how the presidential campaign game is played.

Sickening? Certainly. Sacrilegious? Possibly. Effective? You bet.


microdot said...

Hey, this is the results of the unholy pact with fundamentalism that the Republicans have been milking since the days of Reagan.
Now the bats have come home to roost and the Republican Party is goping to have top pay the price and pay dearly!

Have you checked out any of the profiles of his son? You know, the nice little boy who was able to use his daddy's pull to get out of trying to carry a loaded gun on an airplane earlier this year?
The same dear little boy who was able to use his daddy's pull to quash some pretty ugly cruelty to animal charges a few years back?

How do you think the Republican ticket is going to end up?
Could either of their egos stand that?
Is America ready for this schizoid nightmare team?
Maybe they could get Joe Lieberman to endorse that!

Mad Jack said...

in a rope-a-dope attempt to make Huckabee look like the victim of Christian-bashing.

The cross in the window has all the subtlety of a 12 pound sledgehammer in the hands of a demented Goliath. Even so, it's a good move and does serve to highlight Huckabee's problems with the anti-Christian crowd.

MP said...


mud_rake said...

Chris Matthew on Hardball tonight called Huckabee a 'walking Christmas card.'

I shutter to think of Pastor Huckabee as president. Can a theocracy be far behind?

Liberal White Boy said...

Next to Zionist treason Evangelical treason is the number 1threat to Imerica.

Tim Higgins said...


As you would know more than most, the tying of religion to government is at the very heart of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Even the separation of church and state was only set out to keep from having a state sponsored religion.

Many politicians have portrayed themselves as religious since then, while have the morals of a billygoat. This is not a left or right thing, but simply part of the shameless behavior that we seem to demand of seekers of public office.

We certainly don't have to believe Mr. Huckabee, but I'm not sure that we can blame his political agents (probably former advertising company executives) for using the system as it exists.

As you point to at the end of your posting, it is effective.

kooz said...

Voting for JFK didn't make our country officially Catholic...and voting for Huckabee won't make it Baptists.

I think its clear that some will only be happy with a president who is not only atheist...but also hates christians as well.

As a christian however, I am ashamed that faith has become such a big part of government. Christians are supposed to win souls to Christ...not other Christians to elected offices. It seems Christians have forgotten what their purpose is while on earth.

microdot said...

Well, kooz, I certainly don't hate christians and to infer that those who are offended by Huckabees use of religion to manipulate the electorate do hate christians and want an atheist for president is hysterical hyperbole.

You should be careful with the overstatement and inferences you make when trying to logically present a point. Your overstatement makes the view you are trying to present seem ridiculous.

This might work when the group you are addressing are people who think as you do, and you all echo each others viewpoint, but this is a broader forum.

I do. though, understand and agree with the last part of your statement!

historymike said...


No, I was unaware of all that about the younger Huckabee.... surprising stuff.

As far as next November, I expect that our next President will have a "D" after his or her name. Still, one should never underestimate the power of the Democrats to blow a golden opportunity.

historymike said...


Huckabee responded about how I expected him to. I still think that the floating cross was a "planned" effort on the part of at least the producers of the spot.

historymike said...

Mud Rake:

I am still not convinced that Mike Huckabee's highly public Christianity is not just a strategy. Admittedly, I am cynical and skeptical when it comes to politics.

historymike said...

Liberal White Boy:

"Zionist treason"? While I agree that the post-WWII decision to create a Jewish state in Palestine was one of the most ill-conceived efforts at massive social engineering in the history of mankind, I think most supporters of Israel are well-intentioned, however much they give the proverbial shaft to the Palestinians.

I agree with Subcomandante Bob that we should just give the Jews New Hampshire and call it a day in Palestine.

historymike said...

Tim Higgins:

Agreed that the Founding Fathers had strong religious beliefs (even the many Deists in that crowd), and that government, morality, and faith are difficult to fully separate.

Agreed also that Bible-thumping, duplicitous politicians have been an American scourge for over two centuries.

historymike said...


Yes, there are a handful of citizens who are obsessed with the ideal of complete secularization.

As for me, I don't get too worked up about a politician's faith until he or she starts making theocratic noises.

Agreed also that Christian politicians would be better advised to preach by personal example, and that the should leave the proselytization to the missionaries.

Besides, after countless politicians who have dusted off their faith at election time, I would think that a politician of true faith would be hesitant to get lumped in with the Christians-by-convenience.

SensorG said...

I did catch part of this last night:

Got to love it when Ann Coulter says that Huckabee was not a true evangelical...

Of course FNC is pretty much all Giuliani all the time.

SensorG said...

Southern Baptists vs. the Mormons