The best (and most oft-quoted) expression of people's distaste for the ad comes from conservative softy Peggy Noonan:
I wound up thinking this: That guy is using the cross so I'll like him. That doesn't tell me what he thinks of Jesus, but it does tell me what he thinks of me. He thinks I'm dim. He thinks I will associate my savior with his candidacy. Bleh.John McCain, however, also ran an ad with a cross in it:
McCain's ad distills the powerful story from his time as a POW in North Vietnam. Huckabee's people probably left the cross-shaped bookcase in the ad because it looked artistic and gave the ad depth. McCain's people wrote an ad around a cross. The question is, can a particular non-universal symbol bring people together? The Huckabee kerfuffle says no; the McCain ad and its response say yes.
Used openly and unapologetically, McCain's lines in the sand have left pundits as quivery as the Christmas pudding.
It's not that the irony is lost on the nattering class - Glenn Greenwald and others point that out loudly. But the simple truth is that Huckabee's ad was ineffective - it was political - but McCain's ad is brilliantly brave.