December 17, 2007

A Huckabee Ho Ho Ho

For a while, we thought that the Iowa caucuses might come before Santa Claus and his eight reindeer. Fortunately, saner heads prevailed and the 2008 primaries remained in 2008, but only just. That gave the presidential candidates an opportunity to work Christmas into their ouevre, but none will do it quite as well as Mike Huckabee. The former governor got a jump on the non-political political advertisement rush, and he'll get the credit for improving the tone for the holidays, as Newsweek's Andrew Romano points out:

The first step: beating his rivals to the "This Is No Time for Politics" punch; now every on-air attempt they make to topple the frontrunner from his above-the-fray pedestal looks tawdry.

The next step: reminding voters which side of the "War on Christmas" he's on. Most campaigns run tame, PC "holiday" fare. Not Huckabee. A Southern Baptist pastor, he's counting on evangelicals to win in Iowa. What better way to prove he will put religion in the public square as president than by rejecting establishment attempts to banish Christ from Christmas and defiantly putting religion in the public square today? With very few Jews, Muslims or atheists in Iowa, New Hampshire or South Carolina to take offense--and none who were planning to vote for Huckabee--it's all upside in electoral terms.

I'm not sure I buy the "war on Christmas" meme, either in the larger sense or as a motivation for this ad. Huckabee needs to keep using the personality push in Iowa, because it seems to have worked in generating the surge he's gotten in the Hawkeye State. It will enphasize his warmth and his easy, one-of-us appeal.

What will his competitors do? They could follow with similar ads, but that will look too much like a me-too move. They could continue to attack Huckabee on policy, but between now and Christmas, it will make them look like Grinches. They'd be better advised to run positive ads promoting their own candidate and emphasizing those policies near and dear to Iowans.

Here's the ad, in case you need to warm up your winter evening. Red sweaters are optional while viewing:


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No, not the message -- with which I am in essential agreement. No, I'm talking about the rather bizarred lighting and framing of the shot. Shouldn't it be the Christmas tree, not the window frame, that is illuminateded? Unless, of... [Read More]