"The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing."


Glenn Reynolds:

Barack Obama:
"Impossible to transcend."

Albert A. Gore, Jr.:
"An incontinent brute."

Rev. Jeremiah Wright:
"God damn the Gentleman Farmer."

Friends of GF's Sons:
"Is that really your dad?"

Kickball Girl:
"Keeping 'em alive until 7:45."

Hired Hand:
"I think . . . we forgot the pheasant."

I'm an
Alcoholic Yeti
in the
TTLB Ecosystem

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Brilliantly Offensive

It's hard to know if Governor Huckabee is a truly gifted political strategist and an inspired tactician, or if he's just lucky, or if his current series of largely flawless moves is indeed Providential. We are inclined to discount the last, believing that The Lord will wait until at least the South Carolina primary to make up His mind.

But it's the joyous season of Christmas, when America celebrates retail excess, credit card debt, and office party groping. Meanwhile, many who harbor even mild Christian orthodoxy steel themselves to be more or less irritated and offended by the annual Christmas Culture Wars.

At which time Huck releases a campaign ad that does not wish everyone the happy greetings appropriate to their season, nor does it use the phrase, long since banned from the public square, "Merry Christmas." Instead, Governor Huckabee refers to the "celebration of the birth of Christ." But see for yourself:

This has the political junkies at National Review Online chattering away in breathless awe at the brilliance of it all, and they may well be right. Jonah Goldberg:
If Huckabee had simply said this is a time to celebrate Christmas, it wouldn't have had nearly so much cultural oomph. A generic Christmas ad would still have been smart, because it would humanize him and makes him seem like he was taking the high road, but the "Birth of Christ" thing taps perfectly into a very common resentment about Christmas: that the Christianity is being taken out of it. This gives Huckabee's ad just the slightest spin as a volley in the "Christmas wars" but not enough for him to be fairly tagged as trying to politicize Christmas. Rather, that charge will be aimed at anyone who complains about the ad. It really is quite deft.
Mark Steyn:
This "Merry Christmas" thing is ingenious. In essence, it's playing the secular media off against his GOP rivals in order to solidify his base. I'm no Huckabee fan but, like Peter, I think he's been amazingly nimble and very sophisticated - as a campaigner, I hasten to add: the policy's another matter.

I wonder what the long-term consequences will be for the GOP. Huckabee turns the conventional wisdom on Republican outreach on its head: Instead of being fiscally conservative and socially "moderate", he's culturally conservative and fiscally populist. But right now he's making these big-money consultant-led rivals look very arthritic.
One reader observes that the ad "underlines the message that he's the Christian in the race (distinguishing himself from the Mormon, the adulterer, the movie star, etc, etc.)" Indeed it does.

We're not particular Huckabee partisans around these parts, but he's fun to watch.

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