It’s totally predictable that your average left-leaning, Obama-loving news pundit is going to be all over the birther pandering comments with which GOP presidential wannabes are peppering their interviews. But–wait for it–the pundit that is busy dismantling Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich for painting Obama as a natural born Kenyan is none other than George Will. He starts with Huckabee pontificating on Obama’s grewing up in Kenya:
“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. . . .”
Huckabee thereupon careened off into the (he thinks) related subject of Obama having sent back to the British Embassy in Washington a bust of Winston Churchill that Obama’s predecessor had displayed in the Oval Office: “. . . a great insult to the British. But then 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.”
The architects and administrators of the British Empire were imperialists? Perish the thought. A contemporary of William Jennings Bryan once said of the three-time Democratic presidential nominee, “One could drive a prairie schooner through any part of his argument and never scrape against a fact.” But an absence of facts means there is no argument.
A spokesman for Huckabee dutifully lied, saying his employer “simply misspoke”: “The governor meant to say the president grew up in Indonesia.” Obama did not really grow up there – he spent just five of his first 18 years there and the other 13 years in Hawaii. But obviously Huckabee, with his dilation on the Mau Maus, was deliberately referring to Kenya. Unless Huckabee thinks the Mau Maus were Indonesians, which he might count as another “one thing that I do know.”
Republicans should understand that when self-described conservatives such as Malzberg voice question-rants like the one above and Republicans do not recoil from them, the conservative party is indirectly injured. As it is directly when Newt Gingrich, who seems to be theatrically tiptoeing toward a presidential candidacy, speculates about Obama having a “Kenyan, anti-colonial” mentality.
A magazine article containing what Gingrich calls a “stunning insight” is “the most profound insight I have read in the last six years about Barack Obama.” Gingrich begins with a faux question: “What if he is so outside our comprehension” that he can be understood “only if you understand Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior?” Then Gingrich says this is not just a question, it is “the most accurate, predictive model for his behavior.”
To the notion that Obama has a “Kenyan, anti-colonial” worldview, the sensible response is: If only. Obama’s natural habitat is as American as the nearest faculty club; he is a distillation of America’s academic mentality; he is as American as the other professor-president, Woodrow Wilson. A question for former history professor Gingrich: Why implicate Kenya?