Of the current crop of Republican contenders for the White House, Mike Huckabee scares me the most, because of his many virtues: sanity, intelligence, humor, partial independence from the plutocracy, and a sense of proportion. So I won’t pretend to be dismayed by Huck’s blundering flirtation with birtherism and the even more absurd lie he told in trying to back off from that blunder.
(In the original interview, he said that Obama’s having grown up in Kenya made him anti-British out of sympathy with the Mau Mau. In his retraction, he says he meant to say that Obama grew up in Indonesia. But last time I checked, the Mau Mau never got within several thousand miles of Indonesia, where the colonialists were Dutch. Ooops!)
That even Huckabee fell into this trap in the context of a friendly interview with a right-wing talk jock suggests a serious problem for the Republicans as they attempt to re-take the White House in 2012 or 2016.
Just ten days ago, Huckabee was laughing off the birther nonsense But that was in an interview with a mainstream news outlet; apparently, when talking with a wingnut true believer for an audience of the same, Huckabee couldn’t hold on to his reality principle. The anti-birther comment, combined with his willingness to engage in the sort of casual insult to American Muslims which the wingers love and the media doesn’t seem to mind, made me worry that Huckabee might have perfected the Ronald Reagan trick of stirring up hatred while remaining apparently genial and sane. But apparently that’s a harder trick than it seems.