Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Huckabee Versus Budweiser: Where's the media when you need them?

How many journalists are covering the Republican presidential candidates right now? Probably thousands. But how many have read what front-runner Mike Huckabee hath written? Apparently very few. For example I can't find anyone looking into his attack on Budweiser.

No, I'm not talking about dredging the distant past for lost sermons but a text he published last year: Character Makes a Difference: Where I'm From, Where I've Been, and What I Believe (Paperback, June, 2007).

The problem that Huckabee has with Budweiser is the way the company's advertisements play to the selfish nature of man, for according to Huckabee, "We are not basically good; rather, we are basically self-centered, look to ourselves first, and preserve ourselves first at all costs."

You may not feel that this statement applies to you. You might feel that you are basically good. But according to Huckabee, you'd be wrong. In fact, "Only two things will change" your "selfish behaviour." Either your nature "will be changed by a supernatural experience with God through Christ," or you will "fear the consequences of not doing the right thing."

Huckabee is quite clear on this. The only possible reasons for you doing the right thing in life are fear or Christ. Why? Because you "are not basically good." Huckabee bolsters his argument for this view by noting that "The biblical book of Judges describes one of the darkest times in Old Testament history, and it uses one unforgettable line to explain the reason for the darkness: "Everyone did what was right in his own eyes" (21:25)."

According to Huckabee, for whom doing what is right in your own eyes is not a good thing, and who has elsewhere indicated that he does not believe humans evolve, "that is precisely where we are today," namely stuck in a dark Neolithic Old Testament time. Huckabee uses some linguistic analysis to drive home his argument: "You hear it in our language." And he cites examples like "If it feels good, do it." And he notes that "Advertising slogans underscore the trend" citing "Have it your way" and "This Bud's for you."

The problem with slogans like Budweiser's is that "they all appeal to our basic, selfish nature--we are deserving, and we are good." No we are not says Huckabee, over and over. And this belief informs all of his decisions, as a politican as well as a preacher. Consider the problem of illegal drugs. Huckabee's view of man makes it clear to him that education won't help. Drug-takers are beyond help because "taking drugs appeals to the self-centered, pleasure-seeking people we are by nature." He continues "If we're convinced of that selfish nature [which Huckabee is] we take a different tack: "If you use drugs, we're going to put you in jail for so long you won't even remember where you live.""

(This approach presumably has the added benefit of making it harder for drug users to go back to the neighborhoods from whence they were plucked for incarceration.)

So, we have Mitt Romney telling us that there can be no freedom without religion and we're free to choose any religion as long as it has Christ in it. And we have Mike Huckabee telling us we can't be good without Christ (or harsh punitive measures). I don't know if Christ is back in Christmas yet, but he sure is front and center in politics.

(Earlier I remarked on the media's failure to read up on Huckabee. I will end this post with some notable exceptions, David Corn and Jonathan Stein of Mother Jones. See Huckabee Hides His Full Gospel? and Playing Both Sides of the Pulpit.)

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