Huckabee-Brand Birtherism, revisited

HUCKABEE-BRAND BIRTHERISM, REVISITED…. Yesterday, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee caused quite a stir after he insisted, repeatedly, that President Obamagrew up in Kenya.” By late yesterday afternoon, once the media had picked up on the comments, the Republican walked it back, but not in a way that made sense.

“Governor Huckabee simply misspoke when he alluded to President Obama growing up in ‘Kenya.’ The Governor meant to say the President grew up in Indonesia.”

“When the Governor mentioned he wanted to know more about the President, he wasn’t talking about the President’s place of birth — the Governor believes the President was born in Hawaii. The Governor would however like to know more about where President Obama’s liberal policies come from and what else the President plans to do to this country — as do most Americans.”

If this were simply a matter of a verbal slip — Huckabee meant “Indonesia,” but said, “Kenya” — this walk-back would more or less put the matter to rest.

But if Huckabee thinks this is simply about “misspeaking,” he’s fooling himself. In his little on-air tantrum yesterday, for the former governor didn’t just confuse two foreign countries, he engaged in an ugly, layered smear.

Remember, as part of the tirade, Huckabee emphasized Kenya as part of an effort to argue that President Obama is hostile towards Great Britain and “imperialists.” The Kenyan part was clearly wrong, but the larger argument echoed the disgusting D’Souza/Gingrich argument connecting the president to “Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior.”

It is the cheapest and vilest of the right-wing smear campaign against the president, and Huckabee had to know better than to engage in such nonsense.

What’s more, Huckabee’s entire case is deeply stupid. After screwing the countries, Huckabee argued Obama offended the British by returning a bust of Winston Churchill (that never happened; Obama moved the bust from the Oval Office to the White House residence), misidentified the family members who raised Obama, and suggested there are legitimate questions about the president’s birth certificate.

This was a pathetic display, intended once again to cater to right-wing pathologies about the president being The Other. Huckabee “simply misspoke”? I’m afraid he did much more than that.

Washington Monthly - Donate today and your gift will be doubled!

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.