Mike Huckabee and the Balinese Mau Mau

Huckabee blunders, and tells a blundering lie in backing off. Maybe the Reagan trick of telling hate-inspiring lies with a smiling face isn’t as easy as it looked.

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.


Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

14 thoughts on “Mike Huckabee and the Balinese Mau Mau”

  1. Another indication that he was being disingenuous was the fact that in his original comments Huckabee said that Obama grew up hearing stories about Mau mau from his father and grandfather. Now we’re supposed to believe that the whole family was in Indonesia? I don’t think so.

    Clearly Huckabee got some of this nonsense from Dinesh D’Souza, someone who perhaps ought to know better: http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2010/0927/politics-socialism-capitalism-private-enterprises-obama-business-problem.html

    Money quote: “From a very young age and through his formative years, Obama learned to see America as a force for global domination and destruction. He came to view America’s military as an instrument of neocolonial occupation. He adopted his father’s position that capitalism and free markets are code words for economic plunder. Obama grew to perceive the rich as an oppressive class, a kind of neocolonial power within America. In his worldview, profits are a measure of how effectively you have ripped off the rest of society, and America’s power in the world is a measure of how selfishly it consumes the globe’s resources and how ruthlessly it bullies and dominates the rest of the planet.”

    The article, as I understand it, is a synopsis of D’Souza’s book The Roots of Obama’s Rage.

  2. If only Obama had learned to see America in the way described in the “Money quote”!

  3. Sean, not to drag this OT, but usually we say of someone else that ‘they ought to know better’ when we mean that they would be embarrassed to be shown that something they have said or written displays a level of intelligence, knowledge, or judgment beneath their actual level.

    After once watching D’Souza try to Jew-bait a group of African-American critics in the audience at a public debate on affirmative action at Indiana University about 14 years ago, I was persuaded that nothing D’Souza says or writes will ever embarrass him. In his line of work, intelligence, knowledge, and judgment–not to mention scruples–are liabilities, not assets.

  4. The way the right sees the president is a drama in itself. Are we looking at the same person? How they get “radical” is a total mystery! Talk about a Rorschach.

  5. I’d love to Mau Mau Huckabee’s Flak Catcher.

    Or to look at the bright side, you may hate your job, but you don’t have to argue that Mau Mau was a slip of the tongue and that Huckabee meant to say TKR—Tentara Keamanan Rakjat (The People’s Security Army)

    or maybe Nasakom.

  6. I’m not sure flat tax Huckabee is as smart and sane as you think he is. He can make a strong case for not being heartless, having publicly supported welfare for at least two consecutive seconds, but his handlers can probably reign that in.

  7. I don’t know if Huckabee is sane (he is a Talib, after all), but he is smart.

  8. I liked the part of Huckabee’s statement in which he complained that Obama’s mind had been poisoned such that he thought the British folks ruling Kenya were imperialists, when of course what they were doing was the exact definition of imperialism; the merits of imperialism could be debated, I suppose, but working to impose and maintain the authority of the British Empire in Africa really does qualify one for the label.

  9. Right, that’s why British monarchs actually styled themselves “emperor” or “empress” (in the case of Queen Victoria), although this was usually just with respect to India.

    And I might be in la la land, but as I recall the Obamas seem to have gotten along swimmingly with the current Queen of England (no longer Empress of any kind) so I don’t even know what Huckabee means by Obama’s view of the “Brits” or how on earth it is relevant to anything.

    This has to be the single most perplexing thing I’ve heard a politician say about Obama and the competition for that honor is seriously intense.

  10. Barbara, that I know this probably does not reflect altogether well on me, but I believe the Kenyan anti-colonialism meme came to Huckabee from D’Souza by way of Gingrich.

  11. Huckabee released a an extremely dangerous man from prison – just as a way to appeal to Clinton-haters with a conspiracy theory.

    In other words – Huckabee was willing to sacrifice the lives and safety of his own citizens – just for a bump in the polls.

    Do not be surprised by his words on the squalid Malzberg show.

  12. By the way, did Huckabee side with British imperialists over Israelis in 1948 – or does he reserve his love for the imperial lash when it is directed against brown and black people (and maybe Irish).

  13. Not quite on topic, but I’d like to see Republican hopefuls asked during a debate to share their opinions of Abraham Lincoln. Who will have the toughest time balancing dog-whistles with an answer that won’t offend the other 80% of the nation?

  14. You’re starting to scare me Mark. This is another post I agree with. However much I would like President Obama to be a one term President, there is no way I could vote for Huckabee were he the Republican nominee.

    BTW – among the things that should scare you about Huck, don’t forget to add his sympathies for nanny statism and his anti-gay bigotry. I blogged on some of this here:


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