No doubt you've heard about the ad prepared by former Arkansas Governor, and GOP presidential candidate, Mike Huckabee, for the people of Iowa, in advance of Christmas -- featuring the so-called "floating cross." Gov. Huckabee says he didn't mean anything, it's just a bookshelf that accidentally looked like a cross; a commentator on TV last night said, you do things in a hurry in campaigns, and you don't realize what you did till it's too late; Peggy Noonan, writing in the Wall Street Journal, said these things aren't accidental. Dick Morris, on Fox News, thinks it was not intentional. While I have my suspicions, I am inclined to give Huckabee the benefit of the doubt.
One reason I didn't like it was the symbolism, to me, of a floating, glowing cross. I certainly don't think Huckabee had any evil intent, but -- yes, given our nation's history, that is creepy.
Meanwhile, we have the very interesting news reported by columnist Robert Novak, concerning Huckabee's loyalties in the internecine battles of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Now, this will seem obscure to many, but here goes. Some years back, there were great battles in the Southern Baptist Convention between "conservatives" and "moderates"--or "liberals" as their opponents called them. Folks in the SBC were fighting to keep their huge denomination from following the path taken by the United Church of Christ, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, and to a lesser degree, the Methodists. (The current agonies of the Anglican Communion are instructive.)
So where, according to Novak, did Huckabee stand? "Huckabee embraced the liberal church establishment to become president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention."
Update (12/22): The Novak story matters more than it otherwise might, precisely because Huckabee clearly tilts liberal on a number of other issues: he hiked taxes substantially in Arkansas, he talks about more spending, he sounds dovish on Iran, and he's gone to war with the Club for Growth, which is probably the leading free-enterprise/small-government advocacy group.
Then, we have another problematic report about Huckabee: he plans to preach this Sunday at Cornerstone Church, pastored by Rev. John Hagee. What's wrong with Hagee? Well, two things: one, he's virulently anti-Catholic, and moreover, he's gone over the deep end with his enthusiasm for the Old Testament and our Jewish brothers and sisters, to the point that he said, in a recent book, In Defense of Israel, some very odd things about our Lord--such as, "Jesus did not come to earth to be the Messiah." Well, as you might imagine, that didn't go down so well with Evangelicals, so Hagee has done some verbal dancing about a "failure to communicate"--which is pretty laughable under the circumstances (you can read all about it here).
So here's the thing. Huckabee has become the flavor of the week for a lot of conservatives, and I have a feeling, rather soon, many may have buyer's remorse. If not now, they will later. Yet why are they falling into this trap?
This takes me back to the headline I wrote: many conservative folks are desperate for someone--anyone--to save them from the unthinkable fate that the GOP candidate for president won't win the next election. I wrote about this in October, and called it "political desperation fever." For awhile Giuliani was the guy we had-had-HAD! to support, because stopping Hilary justified any compromise with principle. But Giuliani's problems caused too much indigestion; and along came Huckabee, and folks gravitated to him as to a life-raft.
I believe in the value and legitimacy of political activism; I'm proud of the work I did before becoming a priest, I have a little involvement still, and I have encouraged many, over the years, to be involved. But politics are not our salvation. At the end of the day, God must take care of the world, after we've done all; and even if we do everything right, and all goes perfectly...
The world will still come to an end, when our Lord returns in glory, and all the kingdoms of this world fade away.