Mike Huckabee Didn't Misspeak

March 02, 2011 1:43 pm ET — Walid Zafar

Mike Huckabee

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is in some hot water after telling conservative talk radio host Steve Malzberg that President Obama grew up in Kenya and that experience formed the basis of the president's outlook, especially as it relates to foreign policy. "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," Huckabee said, "because he probably grew up hearing that the British are a bunch of imperialists who persecuted his grandfather."

After national media highlighted the comments, Huckabee's camp quickly moved to quell the controversy by claiming that he misspoke. What Huckabee actually meant to say, explained his spokesperson, was that the president grew up in Indonesia.

There are several problems with Huckabee's explanation. First, he couldn't have meant Indonesia because he went into detail about events that happened in Kenya, such as the Mau Mau uprising against imperialist British rule. If he meant to say Indonesia, it would have made more sense to reference the Indonesian war of independence against imperialist Dutch rule. Second, the fact that Huckabee specifically mentioned the president's father and grandfather, who were both Kenyans, lays to waste the suggestion that he actually meant Indonesia. And lastly, even if Huckabee meant to say Indonesia, it would still be false to say he grew up there. Obama spent a brief four years in Indonesia as a child.

As Steve Kornacki notes, "This story isn't about whether Huckabee specifically subscribes to the view that Obama wasn't born in the United States; maybe he does, maybe he doesn't. The issue here is that Huckabee has just demonstrated that his main critique of President Obama's foreign policy is rooted in a belief that is demonstrably and laughably false."

It also shows that the people advising Huckabee assume that the public is as ignorant as the guy who pays their salaries.