Wednesday, March 2, 2011

When Fringe Becomes Fact

When you look at the possible contenders for the GOP nomination, it’s usually the improbable ones that get the attention for making strange statements about President Obama and his background. That way you know that they’re just out there on the fringe to entertain until the main event shows up, be it Mitt Romney or someone who might actually have a chance at being a contender. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is considered a serious candidate by some because he comes across as folksy and his eyes don’t have that strange other-world fixed gaze, but he may have skated over to the fringe side with this comment on a radio show:

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, [is] very different than the average American.

…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.

Aside from the fact that Mr. Obama did not grow up in Kenya, this is one of those wink-wink nudge-nudge dog whistles to the birther crowd and yet another layer of the “we really don’t know anything about him” crapcake that says in a genuinely folksy way “HE’S AN ALIEN! AND HE’S COLORED!”

Mr. Huckabee’s spokesman later clarified the remarks:

“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.”

Yeah, again with the lies; Mr. Obama did not grow up in Indonesia; he spent a couple of years there as a child. And again, that’s beside the point. Raising questions about where he grew up is just another way of appealing to the ignorant. (Besides, to some people, growing up in the Ozarks is just as exotic a locale as Indonesia.)

This statement isn’t going to move Mr. Huckabee to the fringe; quite the opposite. When you get a “serious” contender like him making these kind of statements — or even misstatements (yeah, sure) — then it becomes a part of the mantra of the campaign.