Huckabee, Hickabee

The field of potential Republican candidates for president is, to be kind, a pitiful lot, but some of them are just plain dumb.

Let’s look at Mike Huckabee, who led all comers in a new Winthrop University poll of Southern voters with almost 22%.

Huckabee, whose appeal is primarily among white evangelical voters, is set to undertake a book tour of the South next week, where his recent stupid statements on Barack Obama’s childhood will, no doubt, serve him well.

A few days ago, on a right-wing  whack job’s radio show,  Huckabee got caught up in the whack job’s invective about Obama’s birth certificate and managed to move the conversation down from there. For those who haven’t read the exchange between Huck and Steve Malzberg, here it is in all its colossal idiocy:

MALZBERG: Don’t you think it’s fair also to ask him, I know your stance on this. How come we don’t have a health record, we don’t have a college record, we don’t have a birth cer – why Mr. Obama did you spend millions of dollars in courts all over this country to defend against having to present a birth certificate. It’s one thing to say, I’ve — you’ve seen it, goodbye. But why go to court and send lawyers to defend against having to show it? Don’t you think we deserve to know more about this man?

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. When he gave the bust back to the Brits –

MALZBERG: Of Winston Churchill.

HUCKABEE: The bust of Winston Churchill, a great insult to the British. 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.

Now, obviously Huckabee’s basic facts are all wrong: Obama didn’t grow up in Kenya.  And he therefore didn’t grow up with his father and grandfather there. In fact, he didn’t grow up with them at all, anywhere. He only met his father one time, and he spent most of his childhood in Hawaii, as everyone outside the South and the Republican Party knows.

And Huckabee’s attempt to subsequently explain his idiocy is even worse than the original statements, because he had ample time to think about the explanation.  A spokesman first said Huckabee simply “misspoke,” claiming Huckabee meant to say Obama grew up in Indonesia.  Now, you can go back to that conversation and substitute Indonesia and you will find this:

But then if you think about it, his perspective as growing up in Indonesia with an Indonesian father and grandfather, their view of the Mau Mau Revolution in Indonesia is very different than ours because he probably grew up hearing that the British were a bunch of imperialists who persecuted his grandfather.

You can see how dumb it was to say he misspoke and meant Indonesia. That turns Obama’s father and grandfather into Indonesians and moves the Mau Mau Revolution out of Kenya, which is kind of strange since that’s where it happened and since the Mau Mau anti-colonialists were most definitely Kenyans, unless they all forged their birth certificates, which is just as likely as Obama forging his.

But then to make it worse, Huckabee published a statement on his blog, not only reaffirming that he meant to say Indonesia instead of Kenya, but claiming that he always knew there was no issue with Obama’s birth certificate and then blaming the New York Times for sensationalizing the story!  He then compared Obama’s “57 states” gaffe to his Kenyan gaffe, as if they were somehow qualitatively the same.

Dumb, dumb, dumb.  But that’s what you get when you play in the sandbox with idiot birthers. 

Besides the obvious, my problem with all this, in terms of Huckabee’s qualifications to lead the country, is that even if he in fact believes there is no issue with Obama’s birthplace, why didn’t he tell Malzberg that?  Why did he allow himself to get caught up in the spirit of that wacky moment?  Why didn’t he have the guts to set him and his listeners straight? What kind of bleeping leader is that?

The truth is that Huckabee, like so many Republicans and so many Southerners, wants to keep alive the notion that Obama is “the other,” not one of “us,” not a real American.

It’s shameless, and it should disqualify Huckabee from doing anything outside his Fox “News” gig.  Unfortunately, though, for so many Republicans, it makes him more attractive.

[photo: Timothy Devine]
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