Mike Huckabee is Not a Birther

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 1 2011 4:36 PM

Mike Huckabee is Not a Birther

Let's call this off right now. I don't hear birtherism anywhere in Mike Huckabee's interview with Steve Malzberg.*

HUCKABEE: [O]ne 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.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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Occam's razor: Huckabee is just ill-informed.

1) Barack Obama spent part of his childhood in Indonesia, with his Indonesian stepfather Lolo Soetoro.

2) His father was, of course, Kenyan, and Obama returned to Kenya in his 20s to understand his roots and inheritance. Obama never lived with him.

3) One of the conservative literary hits of 2010, like it or not, was Dinesh D'Souza's The Roots of Obama's Rage -- you know, the one about how "Kenyan anti-colonial thinking" informs Obama's worldview.

I'll give Huckabee the benefit of the doubt and say he put a few different ideas in the blender. So he's not a birther; he does reveal an odd ignorance of the biography of the man he occasionally out-polls in the 2012 presidential election. (That said, I'm not sure if Obama could pass a pop quiz on the early years of Mike Huckabee.)

UPDATE: By the way, yes, I hear Huckabee saying "what I know is troubling enough" when Malzberg free-associates about Obama's birth certificate. I hear that as Huckabee moving on, as many Republicans do, to the "but the REAL problem" part of the argument. Maybe instead of politely moving on Republicans should reject the premise, but they never do this. Also, Adam Serwer's "post-birtherism" framework does cover comments like these.

*The number of conservative radio hosts who are birthers or birtherish is impressive, and will be a recurring annoyance for 2012 candidates as more reporters track every one of their media hits.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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