The Plank

Barack Obama And Mccain's "christian Problem"

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The ever-sharp Ross Douthat does a nice job smacking down Bob Novak's thinly sourced, conspiratorial op ed suggesting that Mike Huckabee, vigorous public McCain booster, might also be Mike Huckabee, secret anti-McCain dead-ender:

Maybe Mike Huckabee really does believe, with Patrick Henry's Michael
Farris, that "an Obama plague-like presidency" is just what the Book of
Revelation ordered. (Though it's worth noting that Novak's evidence
that Farris holds this view is likewise based on hearsay.) But given
the ample primary-season evidence that Huck has a major-league
man-crush on the presumptive GOP nominee, I'd like to see a little more
evidence before I "embrace the concept" that the Arkansas Governor
might be part of McCain's "Christian problem."

I'd only like to add that Novak's imagined treachery seems belied not only by Huckabee's evident enthusiasm for McCain, but by his atypical generosity toward Obama as well. As conservative pundits were competing with one another to see who could offer the most hyperbolic outrage concerning Jeremiah Wright, Huckabee came to Obama's defense and even, to a limited degree, to Wright's. These hardly seem the acts of someone who would view an Obama presidency as "plague-like."

Indeed, insofar as Obama may reinforce McCain's "Christian problem," I don't think it will be because a handful of extremists think his plague-like presidency will be an appropriate punishment for McCain's ideological deviations. Rather, I think a good many non-extreme Christians who might otherwise vote Republican will at least give Obama a careful look. He is, after all, clearly the more religious of the two candidates, a man who speaks, and has written, evocatively about the role of faith in his life. Religion has played little role in the Democratic primary, but it may play a larger role in the general election, and not entirely in the secular- Democrats-vs.-religious-Republicans frame we've grown accustomed to. I certainly think it would be wise for Obama to give a big speech on faith, emphasizing that no party has a monopoly on belief. Wright notwithstanding, Obama's Christian faith offers him an uncoventional avenue to appeal to socially conservative voters fed up with the GOP--the kind of voters, in fact, who made up much of Huckabee's support.

--Christopher Orr

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