Monday, February 04, 2008

Janet Huckabee and Rudy (Ruettiger, not Giuliani)—Another Notre Dame/Huckabee connection

Roland: Are you ready, Rudy?
Rudy: I've been ready for this day my whole life!
Roland: Then you be the one to lead us out of the tunnel!

–from the movie, Rudy

As we can see from the picture, now that Mike Huckabee has Nancy Reagan's endorsement as her husband Ronnie's (a.k.a. The Gipper from the movie Knute Rockne All American) logical successor (either that or Romney was too busy and McCain too feeble to help Nancy to her seat), we, on the eve of Super Tuesday, look to that other Huckabee/Notre Dame connection, namely the fact that Mike's wife, Janet, loves the movie, Rudy.

That this so-called crazy first lady (she hunted game, jumped out of an airplane, and lived with Mike in a mobile home while the governor's mansion was being renovated) loves Rudy, should be no surprise, since her husband's career has in many ways paralleled the movie's underdog main character. While Rudy was deemed too small to play with the "big boys," Mike was told he was too poor to compete with the big-money contenders. Rudy wasn't given a chance to dress by Notre Dame's new head coach until his teammates sacrificed their jerseys, and the party's elite said Mike didn't stand a chance until the voters put him first in the Iowa caucus. And even when he was allowed to dress, Rudy wasn't expected to play—but his play was so inspirational, his teammates carried him off the field. And while Huckabee survived 'til Super Tuesday, he wasn't expected to win, but his pro-life message was so inspirational—but now we are getting ahead of ourselves ...

Still it's interesting that it is Janet, not Mike, who liked the movie. After all, it is about the guy, and in this story, though the triumph was epic, the guy doesn't get the girl. In fact, one could make the case that this was the one thing the Rudy story lacked—a love story involving the main character. While I'm not suggesting one should tamper with a true Notre Dame Champion of Faith story like Rudy, Janet has a chance to make her husband's legacy even more touching than Ruettiger's. For in Rudy, his fiancee deserted him, for her future husband's dream was just too hard to believe in. But in "Huckabee," his lover never left, as Janet remained Mike's wife through thick or thin.

It's funny, but some are second-guessing Huck now, saying Mike blew it with Janet, by not having this firecracker of a gal stump on her own, so the campaign could cover more ground. But conventional wisdom be damned. To me, in this day of 2nd (or 3rd) wife first ladies with designer clothes and botox smiles, it's sweet to see a candidate still married to his high school sweetheart, and that unadulterated unadulterous Mrs. still at his side. For if on his day of destiny, a girl was the one thing Rudy really lacked, on Huckabee's defining day, Janet (in union with Christ) is the one thing Mike most needs.

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