Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Today's must-read
Chafets on Huckabee: The next incarnation of the religious right?

Zev Chafets has written a really smart and engaging profile of Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and Baptist preacher. You can find it here, or in this coming Sunday's New York Times Magazine.

Huckabee has shown himself to be quite the phenom, and Chafets succeeds in lifting the veil from the charming preacher's nice-guy image to reveal a man who plays a little bit nasty when temptation calls. Last night, on MSNBC's Hardball, Chris Matthews, referring to Huckabee's implicit sowing of doubt against his Mormon rival, Mitt Romney, gleefully read this bit from the Chavets piece:

I asked Huckabee, who describes himself as the only Republican candidate with a degree in theology, if he considered Mormonism a cult or a religion. "I think it’s a religion," he said. "I really don’t know much about it."

I was about to jot down this piece of boilerplate when Huckabee surprised me with a question of his own: "Don’t Mormons," he asked in an innocent voice, "believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?"
Most significantly, though, Chavets poses the question of what becomes of Huckabee after the 2008 election (assuming that he doesn't win the presidency). Charles Dunn, dean of the Regent University school of government, suggests that the Huckabee candidacy leaves him poised to become one of the top preachers in the land. And Dunn should know how that works. Regent University was founded by Pat Robertson, who became one of the top dogs of the religious right when he used the mailing lists of his 1988 presidential campaign to launch the Christian Coalition.

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