The field of pretenders to the throne of King George the Wurst presents interesting contrasts of genuineness.
On the one hand, we have the Empty Suit.
The Empty Suit is definitely not WYSIWYG.
Because there is nothing behind the facade. Unlike in the movie, there is truly nobody behind the curtain. Just some kind of amorphous entity that believes it should be president because, well, it believes it should be president.
On the other end of the scale is Mike Huckabee.
He is definitely WYSIWYG.
A sincere and honest Republican candidate.
That makes him truly an exceptional person.
Sadly, when you look closely, what you see is really not all that attractive.
Yeah, he does seem to have an affinity for the poor and the dispossessed, an affinitely that seems to be alienating him from his party. This, of course, is not surprising, as the Republican Party is now and has ever been the Party of Privilege and does not welcome those who speak for the dispossessed.
And, yeah, he seems very likable.
Of course, that is to be expected. He is an ordained Baptist minister. He is a people-person.
Think about it.
For a man or woman (whoops, he’s a Southern Baptist, they don’t allow women ministers these days) of good will, the ministry is a demanding calling. One’s time and one’s schedule is not one’s own. One must be ready to go when the phone rings, display sympathy to the unsympathetic, offer mercy to the merciless, kindness to the cruel.
Almost all the ministers I’ve known have been people persons (with the exception of one guy about two miles up the road who’s an arrogant conceited something-or-other–he even chased the local Boy Scout troop out of his church because they were too much trouble–but he’s the exemption that proves the deduction, or something like that.)
After extensive research (a phone call to my pastor), I determined that seminaries do not teach courses in how to be likable, which reinforces my initial believe that the Huck’s first-impression likability is part of his personality, and probably part of what led him to the ministry.
Now, I was brought up in the Southern Baptist Church.
And I am still very much a Baptist, doctrinally speaking, that is (I used to substitute teach in Roman Catholic Sunday School–it was such a temptation to discuss the concept of Baptism of the Believer, but I always resisted that temptation).
I grew up before the Southern Baptist Convention was taken over by the Pharisees, who value the Law and Appearances more than they value faith and works, who value the Kingdom of the Earth more than the Kingdom of Faith.
And the Church in which I grew up did not deny the evidence of things seen.
Yeah, Huck is genuine. Genuineness is refreshing.
But it is not a qualification for office.
Neither is denial of reality. For if one denies reality in one place, one will deny it in another.
Yet the most distinctive feature of Huckabee’s religiosity is, ironically, one that he skirts around. Huckabee is a creationist. At a debate last May he raised his hand when Republican candidates were asked if they disbelieved in evolution. He now insists that his personal beliefs on the issue are unimportant. At a news conference last month, when asked about his anti-evolutionism, he said: “That’s an irrelevant question to ask me – I’m happy to answer what I believe, but what I believe is not what’s going to be taught in 50 different states.”
Does Huckabee’s creationism matter for his claims to the presidency? It matters a lot, but it is important to be clear why. The problem is not that Huckabee is a fundamentalist who believes in the inerrancy of scripture. One of the defining principles of the US polity, and the single most important document of the enlightenment, is the Virginia statute for religious freedom of 1786, drafted by Thomas Jefferson. It stipulates that there be no religious test for public office. Religious adherence, or the lack of it, is a matter of personal conscience in which the state has no business.
It’s okay for our leader to be a realist. It is even okay for our leader to be an idealist. Hell, an idealist might be nice.
But it is not okay for our leader to live in a fantasy.