When I saw the headline “Huckabee: Obama ‘Grew up in Kenya’” at Media Matters, I assumed Huckabee must have simply misspoken. It’s true that Barack Obama spent some of his boyhood living in Indonesia; Huckabee must have named the wrong country by mistake. But that, it turns out, would be giving Mike Huckabee too much credit.
Huckabee appeared on a radio program, The Steve Malzberg Show, today, and was asked, “Don’t you think we deserve to know more about this man?” This man, obviously, is Barack Hussein Obama. The guy who wrote the well-received and, for a politician, surprisingly revealing memoir before he even ran for president. The guy who, our media often frets, may be “overexposed.” You probably think you know a little about him! Perhaps even too much. But certain paranoid parts of the right-wing discourse haven’t given up on their Obama-as-Manchurian-Candidate fearmongering. Even after two years in the White House, he could be capable of anything, because we just don’t know anything about him!
Anyway, Mike Huckabee, prospective presidential candidate, doesn’t seem to know that “I take the president at his word” is the standard way for Republicans to weasel out of questions about whether it’s time the GOP leadership stopped indulging all this birther nonsense. Instead, he said this:
HUCKABEE: I would love to know more. What I know is troubling enough. And one thing that I do know is his having grown up in Kenya, his view of the Brits, for example, very different than the average American…. But then if you think about it, his perspective as growing up in Kenya with a Kenyan father and grandfather, their view of the Mau Mau Revolution in Kenya is very different than ours because he probably grew up hearing that the British were a bunch of imperialists who persecuted his grandfather.
This is not simply misspeaking. Huckabee is regurgitating bona fide quasi-birther conspiracy theories, quite similar to those advanced by Dinesh D’Souza in Forbes last fall (and subsequently endorsed by Newt Gingrich). I remember that article primarily because of the widespread scorn and derision with which it was received. (It’s hard to overstate how vile that particular line of attack is; here’s David Frum giving it a shot.)
It strikes me as alarming that Mike Huckabee would actually believe this stuff. What does he read? Does he think Newt Gingrich is a trustworthy source? If so, perhaps Fox News (where Huckabee now works) is not the best place from which to prep for a presidential run. Of course, there’s an alternate explanation: it’s possible Huckabee knows perfectly well that Obama didn’t grow up in Kenya and doesn’t endanger the nation with his dark anticolonialist views, but he’s content to suggest otherwise when he’s speaking to a birther-friendly audience. Neither possibility redounds to his credit.