During the Christmas season, it’s become customary to expect a certain number of private citizens and public figures to pitch a fit over the omnipresent nature of the holiday. Whether the display in question is a nativity scene in the public square or merely a greeting of “Merry Christmas,” it’s a good bet that liberals and hypersensitive secularists will find something to be upset about. It’s not often, however, that objections are raised from more conservative quarters.
Earlier this week, presidential candidate Mike Huckabee released an ad titled “What Really Matters.” In the ad, he referred to “the celebration of the birth of Christ” and wished voters “Merry Christmas.” When Fox News asked Ron Paul for his take on the ad, Paul quoted Sinclair Lewis on “fascism carrying a cross” and accused Huckabee of positioning himself as “the only Christian running [for president].”
Leaving aside the question of whether Sinclair Lewis ever actually wrote what Paul attributed to him, one has to wonder what Paul was thinking.
Such a remark does absolutely nothing to hurt Huckabee; rather, Paul looks unhinged and out of step with the public. After years of politically correct nonsense about “keeping religion out of the public square” and increasingly frivolous lawsuits by the ACLU, many Americans would like to enjoy Christmas absent the intrusion of politics. Paul’s comment dredges up the past few years of the culture wars at a time when most Americans would like to tune out the political horse race in favor of quality time with their families. For a candidate whose claim to fame is his fervent grassroots support, Paul has quite the tin ear.
Worse still, Paul’s comment serves to reinforce the idea that out of the Republican field, Paul’s niche role is “the paranoid guy.” Obviously, an ad wishing voters a “Merry Christmas” has nothing in common with the doctrines of Hitler or Mussolini. Whether or not Paul meant it as such, his insinuation to the contrary is deeply insulting to the millions of Americans who profess to follow Christ.
Taken with other positions of Paul’s, such as his tendency to blame attacks by al Qaeda on American policies, and his dire warnings about the paper dollar and the Federal Reserve, one must seriously question his judgment. Problems such as illegal immigration, the war on terror, and the culture wars are grave matters that will require clear-eyed leadership and a discerning mind. Frankly, the last thing we need is a leader who sees problems where none exist, and views existing problems as impending disasters.
In contrast, Huckabee comes off rather well. No doubt his ad comes as a relief to voters already burned out on the non-stop coverage and the 10? 15? 500? debates which have already taken place before a single primary has been held. In response to accusations of his “subliminal [Christian] messaging,” Huckabee offered this deadpan reply: “I was also signaling evangelical voters with Morse code, with all the blinking I was doing.”
Whether or not Huckabee would make a good president remains to be seen. He has, however, displayed tact, a sense of humor, and appropriate reverence for the most important day of the year: the celebration of the birth of our Savior.
Merry Christmas, Governor Huckabee.