Huckabee's words are an honest shame

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When potential Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee told a right-wing radio host on Tuesday that President Barack Obama was raised by his father and grandfather in Kenya, he supposedly "misspoke."

What Mr. Huckabee meant to say was that Mr. Obama's father and grandfather reared him under an anti-colonial philosophy -- in Indonesia.

It will come as just as much of a surprise to Indonesians as it did to me that a cabal of Kenyans plotted the takeover of the American presidency from their archipelago in southern Asia.

The following is a partial transcript of the exchange between Mr. Huckabee and the "birther" host of "The Steve Malzberg Show":

Malzberg: "But why go to court and send lawyers to defend against having to show [Mr. Obama's birth certificate]? 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 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."

Even if we give Mr. Huckabee the benefit of the doubt that he meant Indonesia all along and not Kenya, he still places the Mau Mau uprising against the British thousands of miles away in an Asian country colonized by the Dutch and last occupied by the Japanese during World War II.

We also learn from this exchange that Mr. Obama was taught to despise British imperialism by his suddenly ubiquitous father and grandfather.

I can't remember what was on every page of Mr. Obama's bestselling autobiography, "Dreams from My Father," but I'm reasonably certain he didn't include a chapter on growing up "Mau Mau" in Indonesia while herding goats with the patrilineal side of his family.

It's also interesting that Mr. Malzberg didn't correct Mr. Huckabee when he "misspoke" twice within a minute about Mr. Obama being raised in Kenya. Did the radio host know that Mr. Huckabee really meant Indonesia?

If so, a story about Mr. Obama being reared in Indonesia by his Kenyan father and grandfather introduces a whole new level of craziness to birther mythology.

Mr. Huckabee contradicts both the "official" narrative that Mr. Obama was raised by his mother and Indonesian stepfather and the birther legend that his worldview is the product of his education in a radical Islamic madrassa.

Did Mr. Obama's mother, who had divorced his father and married an Indonesian man, lose custody of her son to her ex or did they share the responsibility of raising him a Socialist? Was Mr. Obama indoctrinated into radical Islam by day and anti-colonialism by night?

Once the howls of derision started, Mr. Huckabee tried to "clarify" his position on Mr. Obama's birthplace by insisting that he really, truly believes the 44th president was born in Hawaii.

Though the former Arkansas governor winks at Mr. Malzberg's speculation that there's something fishy about the president's birth certificate, technically there was nothing in Mr. Huckabee's original statement that questioned Mr. Obama's status as an American citizen by birth.

Mr. Obama could easily have been born in Hawaii and "raised" in either Kenya or Indonesia, according to Mr. Huckabee's scenario.

It's his notion of Mr. Obama's anti-colonial education at the feet of his father and grandfather in Indonesia -- or Kenya -- that truly sets Mr. Huckabee apart from other conspiracy theorists.

Now, Mr. Huckabee would have us believe that every word out of his mouth on that subject was a "misstatement" -- not stupidity, lying or pandering to the worst elements of his party's base.

Now, that's a stretch! With the majority of Republicans in the "Obama is an alien" camp, humoring audiences with birther proclivities shows how far even relatively sane candidates will sink for a few extra votes. It's pathetic.


Tony Norman: tnorman@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1631.


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