That Old Rugged Cross
Mike Huckabee's commercial "What Really Matters," the most talked-about ad since… that other Mike Huckabee ad, is being picked apart like a game hen. Wearing a red sweater and looking into the cameras with soft, come-to-Church eyes, Huckabee says:
Are you about worn out of all the television commercials you're seeing? Mostly about politics. I don't blame you. At this time of year, sometimes it's nice to pull aside from all of that and just remember that what really matters is the celebration of the birth of Christ and being with our family and our friends. I hope that you and your family will have a magnificent Christmas season. And on behalf of all of us, God bless and Merry Christmas.
Byron York has the full story of the ad here—general agreement is that's a home run, a velvet-wrapped attack on the less Godful candidates complete with an unmissable window backrgound brace that looks like a cross. The ever-dippy hosts of Fox and Friends asked Ron Paul for a comment.
I haven't thought about it completely but it reminds me of what Sinclair Lewis once said, that 'when Fascism comes to this country, it will be wrapped in the flag, carrying a cross.' I don't know whether that's a fair assessment or not, but you wonder about using a cross like he is the only Christian, or implying that subtly.
Host Steve Doocy reacted with utter confusion. A literary reference! Fascism! Scary! But Paul was referring to Lewis's much-abused bon mot and his 1935 novel It Can't Happen Here about the reign of President Berzelius "Buzz" Windrip. Lewis even wrote a little of Windrip's manifesto:
I want to stand up on my hind legs and not just admit but frankly holler right out that we've got to change our system a lot, maybe even change the whole Constitution (but change it legally, and not by violence) to bring it up from the horseback-and-corduroy-road epoch to the automobile-and-cement-highway period of today. The Executive has got to have a freer hand and be able to move quick in an emergency, and not be tied down by a lot of dumb shyster-lawyer congressmen taking months to shoot off their mouths in debates. BUT–and it's a But as big as Deacon Checkerboard's hay-barn back home–these new economic changes are only a means to an End, and that End is and must be, fundamentally, the same principles of Liberty, Equality, and Justice that were advocated by the Founding Fathers of this great land back in 1776!
Demands for more executive power… a call for the government to get more involved in economics decisions… an unlettered argument that the founders would want it this way. No, doesn't remind me of anything.
Also, check out the surreal second part of the Fox interview, when a co-host asks Paul to give one-word answers to a series of topics like "Mainstream Media" and "War on Terror."