Cheat-Seeking Missles

Friday, December 21, 2007

Cross About Huckabee's Cross Ad

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Floating crosses, like daisies, can be pretty things, but when they are used politically, they can offend.

Mike Huckabee is hoping that Iowa voters, busy wrapping presents and roasting chestnuts by the open fire (apparently not caring a whit about global warming), will see his friendly face, hear the warm voice and peaceful message, note that he's got the spirit of the season and isn't attacking anyone ... and maybe that they'll connect with the cross drifting by ethereally in the background as he speaks.

It is not a mistake; it is a cross, not merely a bookshelf bereft of books. The positioning, the panning, the careful contrast of white against dark makes it very evident that the image was carefully thought out to serve two purposes: Connect with Christians, and leverage the ad buy by getting free air time as pundits discuss the meaning of it all.

For me, it accomplished the latter, but not the former, and I am one big fan of the cross and all it stands for: God, Christ, salvation, love, sacrifice. I'm glad that Mike Huckabee is a Christian and that America is a place where, unlike England, a man who stands up proudly for his faith can run for office. I'm glad that Huckabee is surging in the polls for little reason other than he's a nice-sounding Christian guy, because it shows that America is still, as it always has been, a Christian nation -- despite what the Secularists would have us believe, or force us to accept.

I even believe it's fine to use the cross as a subliminal messaging tool. I met a fellow recently who had invented a new kind of file folder clip that was quite ingenious. Incorporated subtly into its inside parts was a cross. I asked him about it and he smiled and said, "I believe in workplace evangelism." More power to him.

But what Huckabee has done, besides trying rather clumsily to subtly appeal to Christians, is to leverage his ad budget by the cross. He knew and his staff knew columns would be written, blogs would be posted (mea culpa) and airtime would be filled with discussions about his ad, so his investment of a few tens of thousands of dollars would reap him millions of dollars in additional exposure.

That is the stuff of money lenders in the Temple, and you know what Jesus did to them -- He turned over their tables and chased them out. You just don't use the cross that He gave his life to us on as a way to tick up a point or two in the poll swithout having to pay for it.

As Peggy Noonan put it today in the WSJ,
Ken Mehlman, the former Republican chairman, once bragged in my presence that in every ad he did he put in something wrong--something that went too far, something debatable. TV producers, ever hungry for new controversy, would play the commercial over and over as pundits on the panel deliberated over its meaning. This got the commercial played free all over the news.

The cross is the reason you saw the commercial. The cross made it break through.
I'm not sure if Peggy saw her secondary message: The cross is what makes it possible for any of us break through, and that purpose of the cross is so far superior to what Huckabee is using it for that his ad is, in a word, sinful.

Regular readers know I'm not a Huckabee supporter because I'm voting on foreign policy platforms this election, but if I were, I'd be re-thinking my vote based on this ad.

Update: Vote on your choice for the best and the worst of the candidates' Christmas ads at Stuck on Stupid.

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