Mike Huckabee Don't Know Much About History
This has not been a very good week for presidential aspirant Mike Huckabee. Unless of course, your standard for "good week for Mike Huckabee" is "Mike Huckabee said a bunch of stuff that will appeal directly to the sort of insane voters he needs to court to win the GOP presidential primary," in which case it's been a great week for Mike Huckabee. But if you view "greatness" by any other standard (i.e. not relevant to the narrow tribal politics that pervade our inter-party rivalries) then no, it's not been good.
This all began when Huckabee went on the radio with some microwaved Dinesh D'Souza points to make, and erroneously asserted that President Barack Obama grew up in Kenya and was influenced by his Kenyan father who was influenced by the Mau Mau Rebellion and so he removed a bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office (to another part of the White House, by the way), and this proved that he was some anti-Western alien monster, or something.
Huckabee briefly backtracked, putting out that he misspoke during the radio appearance and meant to say "Indonesia" when he said "Kenya," which actually made less sense because Indonesia is many, many thousands of miles from where the Mau Mau Rebellion happened. Since then, he's tried to re-remove the vague taint of Birtherism on the whole mess, not by making a simple declarative statement attesting to Obama's citizenship, but by saying that Hillary Clinton would have sniffed out any shenanigans, with the terrifying reach of her oppo-research team.
Finally, he's circled back around to the original warmed-over D'Souza, and, as Gawker's Jim Newell characterizes it, not being a "very nice person" in general. Per Newell, here's what Huckabee said to Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association:
Fischer: Well Governor, what got lost in all the shuffle was the legitimate point that you were making which is that we may have a president who has some fundamentally anti-American ideas that may be rooted in a childhood where he had a father who was virulently anti-colonial, hated the British - might have something to do with the President returning the bust of Winston Churchill back to England. You know, I was struck by the fact that when he made his tour to Indonesia, he made a point of going to an Indonesian memorial that celebrated the victory of Indonesians over British troops - again, part of that anti-colonial thing. And so I'd like you to comment on that; you seem to think that there is some validity to the fact that there may be some fundamental anti-Americanism in this president.
Huckabee: Well, that's exactly the point that I make in the book and I don't know why these reporters - maybe they can't read, I guess that's part of it because it's clearly spelled out and I'm quoting a British newspaper who really were expressing the outrage of the Brits over that bust being returned and the point was that they felt like that due to Obama's father and grandfather it could be that his version and view of the Mau Mau Revolution was very different than most of the people who perhaps would grow up in the United States. And I have said many times, publicly, that I do think he has a different worldview and I think it is, in part, molded out of a very different experience. Most of us grew up going to Boy Scout meetings and, you know, our communities were filled with Rotary Clubs, not madrassas.
Again, maybe Huckabee can't read or maybe the people who write the "British newspapers" he reads can't read or maybe they all can't read one another, but that bust: sitting in the White House residence. And Huckabee's entire grasp about how historical events may have shaped Obama only apply to an alternate reality. Salon's Justin Elliot spoke to David Anderson, a historian familiar with events that occurred in this universe, who says that Huckabee's argument doesn't make any sense:
To portray the Obama family as being part of Mau Mau is stir-fry crazy. Let me explain why: The Obama family come from western Kenya, which is about as different from Nairobi and the Kikuyu area as Utah is from New York City. And it's almost as far way. They come from an area where there was no rebellion, there was no Mau Mau. So while his father and his grandmother may well have been nationalists -- I'm sure they were -- they weren't directly involved in the Mau Mau rebellion.
The other thing is, if you've read anything about Churchill, you'd know that, although he was the head of the government at the time of the Mau Mau rebellion, he was trying as best he could to get the British in Kenya to negotiate and to end the fighting. Churchill was not supporting or condoning the violence. He is actually one of the few British politicians who comes out of this smelling of roses.
Elliot says that a "fleshed-out version of Huckabee's theory would go like this":
Obama's grandfather hated the British because he was (supposedly) tortured in prison under the colonial regime a few years before the Mau Mau uprising. Therefore, President Obama must take a different view of the Mau Mau uprising -- in which his family played no part -- than Huckabee, who apparently supports the brutal measures used by the British to defeat the rebellion. And because of all that, Obama replaced a bust of Winston Churchill -- who himself wanted a peaceful solution to Mau Mau -- with a bust of Abraham Lincoln.
So, basically, Huckabee should probably shy away from teaching history anytime soon. And, as we learned in 2008, instructing others in basic mathematics wasn't exactly his forte, either.
Heck of a bass player, though.