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03.03.11

Wake Up, Huck: Obama Didn't Grow Up in Kenya!

Mike Huckabee supposedly "misspoke" when he said Barack Obama grew up in Kenya. The potential 2012 candidate and other Obama bashers need to accept that the president was born in the U.S. and is Christian—and try to beat him with ideas, argues Mark McKinnon.

Mike Huckabee has really stepped in it. I only wish I could believe it was entirely accidental. But, boy, there sure is a lot on his shoes. People like Mike Huckabee. I like Mike Huckabee. Or, I did anyway. But just because he can be charming and self-effacing doesn't mean we should excuse him from appropriate standards of conduct and character assassination.

Huckabee said in an interview this week that President Obama grew up in Kenya. His spokesman tried to mop up by suggesting he misspoke and meant to say he grew up in Indonesia, which in itself is a vast overstatement and misleading. The problem is that Huckabee talked in the same breath about the Mau Mau Revolution, which happened in Kenya.

Here's what I think. I doubt most Americans have a clue about the Mau Mau Revolution, including me. But, I'm pretty sure for most folks it sounds like something extremely foreign, vaguely socialist, anti-Christian or at the very least un-American. And unfortunately, whether it was overt or not, I think that Huckabee's intent was to further sow the seeds that Obama is somehow "not really one of us...he's one of them." Take your pick and use your imagination about who "them" might be.

And Huckabee didn't help his case when, yesterday, he added fuel to the fire, saying: "I have said many times, publicly, that I do think he has a different world view, and I think it's 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."

Huckabee's intent was to further sow the seeds that Obama is somehow "not really one of us...he's one of them."

Conservative columnist Peter Wehner, a real moral force in the Republican Party, has a great idea: "How about starting today, Republicans and conservatives accept the following two propositions: Barack Obama was born in the United States and he’s a Christian. He may be wrong on a vast array of public policy issues, as I believe he is; and his animating philosophy (contemporary liberalism) may be defective in all sorts of ways. But he is not an alien, nor is he a Muslim, nor can his views be explained by Kenyan anti-colonialism. To argue otherwise, or even to hint otherwise, is irresponsible. It’s also politically discrediting."

I'm willing to do the Christian thing and forgive Huckabee. But only under one condition. That he publicly adopt the Wehner pact above and ask his fellow Republicans to do the same.

The only way Republicans will beat President Obama is with the power of ideas. If GOP candidates continue to try and smear Obama with innuendo about where he comes from, then the president will be staying right where he is for another four years. And then there really won't be any question about where his home is.

As vice chairman of Public Strategies and president of Maverick Media, Mark McKinnon has helped meet strategic challenges for candidates, corporations and causes, including George W. Bush, John McCain, Governor Ann Richards, Charlie Wilson, Lance Armstrong, and Bono.