Saturday, March 05, 2011

Is this the same guy?

As I recall from 2008, Mike Huckabee was a very conservative but decent guy, characterized by good humor and a tolerant attitude. He sure has changed. I'd guess that the presidential bug has really dug deep in him, but maybe this is what comes from too much time hanging around the toxic precincts of Fix Schmooze.

You probably saw this story: Huckabee was asked by a "conservative radio host," Steve Malzberg, about President Obama's background. (Republicans have not paid so much attention to a president's upbringing since Abe Lincoln, "the Railsplitter.") Malzberg, whose grasp of facts is at best shaky, said, " How come we don’t have a health record, we don’t have a college record, we don’t have a birth certificate — why, Mr. Obama, did you spend millions of dollars in courts all over this country to defend against having to present a birth certificate?"

None of those assertions is true, but Huckabee didn't bother to correct his host, or to enhance the radio audience's understanding. Instead he wandered off: I would love to know more. What I know is troubling enough," he began. Then he said, 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.”

That statement, too, is devoid of facts. Mr. Obama did not grow up in Kenya; he did not set foot in that country until he was 26, and then on a short visit. He did not grow up with his father, whom he met only twice after the man left the President's mother when Mr. Obama was a baby. Clearly, he did not hear tales of the Mau Mau at his father's or grandfather's knees.

One of the things notable about this story is Huckabee's amazing ignorance of American history; I mean the guy is a conservative who achieved high office and is seeking an even higher office. But the former governor seems to think there is something essentially different about stories of British imperialists persecuting freedom-loving fathers and grandfathers in Africa from the stories we hear as children, about British imperialists persecuting our forefathers. (Coincidentally, today is the anniversary of the Boston Massacre.)

When it was pointed out that Mr. Huckabee had engaged in fiction, his spokesman, Hogan Gidley, the executive director of the former governor's PAC, said that Huckabee "simply misspoke," and that “he meant to say the president grew up in Indonesia."

Now, that makes sense. It's so easy to confuse a nation in Africa characterized by high plains, large mountains and people with a pastoral background with one strung through Asia on more than 1,000 islands. And who of us has not mistaken the Serengeti Plain for Borneo? Or British overlords with the Dutch?

What really gets to me is the utter contempt for the American people that Huckabee shows. "Simply misspoke?" Huh? At least he could have asserted that he spoke in ignorance--although that is highly unlikely as well; too much thought must have gone into the comment about Kenya and the Mau Mau movement (the leader of which, Jomo Kenyatta, became the first president of an independent Kenya). The fact is that Mr. Huckabee lied (that is, he told a knowing and intentional untruth), and that he tried to cover it up with another lie.

Sadly for the party that gave us Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Eisenhower, this incident is now par for the course for today's Rebuplicans. They have become the Party of Ignorance.

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