huckabee2.jpgMike Huckabee’s Christmas ad is the gift that keeps on giving. The first holiday spot of the season, it hoisted him above the political fray, into the warm and cuddly candidate-I-most-want-to-have-eggnog-with zone. When the commentariat called it a ploy to solidify evangelical support, particularly with its “What really matters is… the birth of Christ ” line, he could get away with saying he was just being the preacher that he really is. When pundits picked out what appeared to be a cross in the ad, Huckabee could laugh it off by saying the spot would say “Paul is dead” if played backward. And now the The New York Times reports that Huckabee is able to raise the commotion over his Christmas ad on the stump as a sign of political correctness run amok. Needless to say, it’s a hit with Christian audiences. And in Iowa, there’s really no other kind:

[Huckabee] was received by supporters as he returned to Iowa this week like the second coming of Santa Claus.
At rallies, they posed their red-sweatered children on his knee for photographs, as if he were the man in the red suit at the mall. They gave him standing ovations when he said the words they wanted to hear.
“I know this is probably a very controversial thing, but may I say to you, Merry Christmas!” Mr. Huckabee told an audience of 200 in Marshalltown on Thursday morning, as the crowd rose to its feet.
Clearly delighted over a controversy set off by a recent campaign advertisement in which he says “what really matters” this time of year is not the presidential campaign but “the celebration of the birth of Christ,” Mr. Huckabee has missed no opportunity in his speeches to his core supporters of evangelical voters to utter those words, underlining the Christ part.
“What’s wrong with our country, what is wrong with our culture, is that you can’t say the name Jesus Christ without people going completely berserk,” Mr. Huckabee told a crowd in Dike, a tiny farm town about 80 miles northeast of Des Moines, where people also stood to applaud.
Whatever unease politicians may stir when they invoke Christmas among non-Christians does not seem to apply here. The hegemony of Christianity is as undisputed and unbroken as the landscape is flat. The notion of controversy over it is viewed as political correctness gone wild or, at best, a terrible misunderstanding.


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