Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Raucous Before the Caucus: Huckabee humbled ... and exalted?

You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to
him as well.

(Matt. 5:38-39)

It started out as what appeared to be an ill-conceived, not well-prepared press conference. It ended with staff second-guessing and reporters cynically snickering. But in between a now contrite candidate, Michael Huckabee, had once again regained his soul if not his presidential goal ...

As most following the Republican race already know, Mitt "The Mormon Money Machine" Romney had been peppering Huckabee with an un-godly onslaught of negative ads, and honest Mike was becoming hopping mad. Finally, Huck could take it no longer, and beginning with his Sunday appearance on Meet the Press (by most accounts a brilliant rhetorical display), Huck, like Chuck (Norris), started to punch back.

So, in effect, the "Mitt" had already begun to hit the fan when Mike came to his senses.

Unbeknownst to much of his staff and in opposition to many of them, Huckabee changed the press conference from one of ramming Mitt Romney into the turf, into a session of confessing his own sinfulness and promising to end his own negative ads once and for all. Saying that Mitt's jabs had gotten to him to the point he had acquiesced to his staff's "conventional political wisdom," and had agreed to fight attack ad with attack ad, Mike admitted his camp had actually sent a negative Romney commercial to run on several Iowa television stations (of which a couple had already shown it once) before his conscience had gotten to him and Huckabee personally called the stations to pull it.

"I am running for the president of the United States, and in the past this kind of negative campaigning has helped many a candidate succeed," Mike began. "But I finally asked myself what does a man profit if he gains the whole world, but loses his soul in the process?" Mike explained in his paraphrase of Mark 8:36. "I certainly want to win the presidency of the United States but not at that cost." Then, in the most controversial part of the press conference, Mike showed the ad to those present. And, as you might expect, a skewering of skepticism followed.

"Call me one of these cynical reporters," replied one of the writers, "but if you are pledging to stop the attack ads ... why show it to us now?"

"Because if I didn't show it, you'd say I called a press conference over nothing, talked about an ad that didn't exist," Mike retorted. "It's a no-win situation ... if you're of a mind to be cynical, you are going to be cynical whether I played it or not."

Indeed, the showing of the tape to the assembled was the one thing which I might not agree with concerning Huckabee's handling of his revelation. It seems a Catholic (that is, a Catholic saint) would not show anything further to fuel the fire after such an apology was given. And yet, whether due to the hastiness of the press conference or presence of the Holy Spirit, the commercial (when shown to the press) first had bad sound, then ran with faulty lighting, and in the end came off as less than impressive. Certainly, Huckabee's override of the advice of his advisers seems to feed right into the Romney camp's contention that Team Huckabee is too divided (and Mike himself too unorganized) to win the nomination and beat the Democrats. And yet to devout Catholics, this criticism of Mike Huckabee is strangely reminiscent of the derision Pope Paul VI received when he went against the worldly wisdom of the majority of his advisers and published the poetic (and prophetic) encyclical on true love, Humane Vitae. Like the papacy (especially during the reigns of the holy popes) Huckabee's run for the White House is increasingly becoming one of personal conviction based on Scripture rather that strategy stemming from statistics. And so, on this date when Catholics celebrate both the Feast of the Mother of God and the Day of World Peace, one sees a man that, while not quite ready to embrace Mary as his Mother, is certainly becoming more at peace with his Savior—and himself. And finally, to my Evangelical brothers and sisters who are still uneasy over this Notre Dame graduate's talk of Our Lady's intercession, I offer the following piece of information as inspiration. January 3rd is the Catholic feast day honoring the Holy Name of Jesus—something both you and Michael Huckabee would have no trouble celebrating in thanksgiving for his Iowa vic—but let's not get ahead of ourselves! There is much work to be done, and prayer to be prayed ...


Anonymous said...

Hey Tom, great post. I've been going back and forth on this election between the Huckster and Fred Thompson. Thompson appeals more to my head, Huckabee to my heart. Anyway, by the time Pennsylvania votes it won't matter, anyway.

I hope you and the family had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I'm going to be e-mailing Mrs. Fighting in a few minutes for a request I'd like her to pass on to you. And don't worry, you'll be hearing from me again sometime before the 26th of Jan, when Notre Dame faces a real Irish Catholic basketball team :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Michael, as always for your prayers and comments. I believe Thompson's extreme cheap shot at Romney (quoting only Mitt's quarter-of-a-century old pro-choice position) and Huck (an anti-tax sentence taken way out of context) at the November debate backfired -- it certainly lost him my respect. By the way is Fred dead? I haven't seen the senator lately ...

ND's basketball team is not up to 'Nova's -- at least on paper. But I'll still root for Our Lady's team.

God's grace & Mary's prayers,

P.S. Did you already buy the Champions book & Suffering Irish T?