Earlier this week Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee issued a non-campaign campaign ad ('tis the season to have your cake and eat it, too). Let's take a look, shall we?
First things being first, let's cover the quick grammar issue. One is not worn out "of" something, one is worn out "from" something. I've got a love/hate issue with anal retentive grammar snobbery, but let's be clear here: this wasn't some off-the-cuff stump speech, this was a pre-written, cut and edited television ad. "If you can't get your prepositions correct, you don't get to be president of the United States," is what was said to me over breakfast this morning. That's a criterion I can get behind.
Secondly, look at the framing. No need to go back; here's a screenshot:
It is in no way reading too much into this to be sure that it is absolutely intentional that as Mr. Huckabee is saying "celebrating the birth of Christ" is what really matters, a glowing white cross is centered between him and the Christmas tree. Huckabee and his camp are, of course, saying that reading too much into it is exactly what's being done. Downplaying the idea that it's some sort of subliminal Christ infusion, he, um, joked yesterday that "if you play this spot backwards it says 'Paul is Dead, Paul is Dead, Paul is Dead,'" I call bullshit. That bookshelf was lit and framed so that viewers could see nothing but a glowing white cross. Anyone and everyone who looks at that clip sees it. And he's claiming coincidence? None of the crew setting up, lighting, framing, and editing the ad had any idea about that glowing white cross behind him?
Not quite finally, the content. "What really matters is the celebration of the birth of Christ." There are two short sentences from the Constitution worth dredging up here. The first, and probably most well known, is the First Amendment:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.And the second is from Article IV:
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.The salient point here is that Mr. Huckabee has every right to run this ad and say what he says, glowing white cross and all. You and I, however, also have every right to, come voting day, completely reject any candidate who so obviously makes religion (any religion) a part of his or her platform. And if you don't think that Mike Huckabee will make his religious beliefs an overt part of his potential presidency, so some Google searches. Saving you some research time, Think Progress has compiled a list of on-record quotes about homosexuality from the man himself. In fact, in a recent ad that ran in Iowa, Huckabee summed it all up neat and tidy for you: "''Faith doesn't just influence me, it really defines me.''
Faith defines him. And what really matters (to anyone watching his ad, apparently) is celebrating the birth of Jesus. I can't imagine I'm alone in finding that a bit insulting. I don't find it insulting when someone, be it a retail employee, a coworker, or whoever, wishes me a Merry Christmas. But when someone who wants to be my president tells me that what matters--not to him, but to anyone and everyone listening to him--is celebrating the birth of the guy he claims as his religious savior, yeah, I take it personally.
Vote for whomever you will, but please try to remember that while many of our founding fathers were religious themselves, they took great care to keep that part of their lives (and the lives of their successors) out of our government.