A reader objects:
It is interesting to see how so many of the conversative bloggers and media people don’t like Mike Huckabee, obviously this includes you. The article in the Washington Post today by Robert Novak that tries to slam Huckabee, Fred Barnes on Fox News doesn’t care for him at all – all of you don’t want to come out and say it, but you obviously don’t want him as the Republican candidate. One can’t help but infer from your comments that you have problems with his being a Baptist preacher, but I think it is really because you think he can’t win the election.
Yes, that’s it. I think he can’t win, which is why I wrote six weeks back that “if he gets the nomination, Hillary won’t know what hit her. This guy can sell ice to Eskimos.”
Of course, that leaves me “having problems with his being a Baptist preacher.” Yes, deep-rooted Baptist disdain flows through my veins. (It goes well with my being an “accomplice to bigotry” in the case of Romney.)
And at this point, I think I’ve reached my limit for religion talk in presidential campaigns. We’ve had more than enough this year. The presence of candidates who are defined by their religion, be it by a hostile press (Romney) or by the candidate and his supporters themselves (Huckabee, with television ads touting him a ‘Christian Leader’) means that we get too many accusations of axiomatic bias or bigotry against their religion when somebody points out their flaws, shortcomings, or why they aren’t supporting that candidate. Suddenly the critic is on the defensive, and has to establish that they’re not driven by bias against a particular creed.
In light of recent campaigns, this past political landscape Peggy Noonan describes seems almost unimaginable:
In 1968 we were, as now, a religious country. But when we walked to the polls, we thought we were about to hire a president, not a Bible study teacher.
No one cared, really, that Richard Nixon was a Quaker. They may have been confused by it, but they weren’t upset. His vice president, Spiro Agnew, was not Greek Orthodox but Episcopalian. Nobody much noticed. Nelson Rockefeller of New York was not an Episcopalian but a Baptist. Do you know what Lyndon Johnson’s religion was? He was a member of the Disciples of Christ, but in what appeared to be the same way he was a member of the American Legion: You’re in politics, you join things. Hubert Humphrey was born Lutheran, attended Methodist churches, and was rumored to be a Congregationalist. This didn’t quite reach the level of mystery because nobody quite cared.
I’m not sure our current political climate is an improvement.