Tuesday, March 01, 2011


Dave Weigel has a point, I guess, about that Mike Huckabee interview with Steve Malzberg: Huck never literally endorses the purest form of birtherism. But he doesn't feel any need to refute it, and he gleefully endorses birtherism lite (Obama conceals his background -- isn't that awfully suspicious?). And in the audio provided by Media Matters, Huckabee simply says nothing when Malzberg says of Obama,

Oh, he despises the West, he despises the Brits, and I think he could take it all out on Israel, and that's why he despises Israel. He's not too thrilled with our history, either.

Huckabee's silence is endorsement.

Jonathan Bernstein is appalled by Huck's ill-informed endorsement of Gingrich/D'Souza-ism:

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 who persecuted his grandfather.

Bernstein writes:

This is where birtherism gets tricky. In its wildest forms, birtherism is about a massive conspiracy to install a conscious, deliberate enemy of the United States in the White House. It's nice that Mike Huckabee doesn't subscribe to that. But in its more plausible, and presumably more popular forms, it's really just a way of saying that Barack Obama isn't a "real" American.

Pushing the entirely phony Kenyan anti-imperialism idea is basically just as nutters and destructive as believing that relatively benign version of birtherism. What matters to most birthers isn't really whether Barack Obama is literally eligible for the presidency; it's the idea that he's somehow anti-America. The whole point of Dinesh D'Souza's nonsense is to allow for the latter without needing the former.

That's exactly right -- though I think Bernstein is a bit off about this:

... Weigel points out that D'Souza's silly book was "One of the conservative literary hits of 2010, like it or not." That's true -- but is it really going to be a litmus test for GOP presidential candidates in 2012 that they have to parrot back whatever crazed ravings are found in the "literary hits" of movement conservatives?

I think we've gone way past litmus tests. Like the citizens of a country who hear relentless war propaganda about an enemy nation, Republicans today are just willing to believe any evil thing about Obama. Less and less do I believe that they feel forced to parrot these notions -- I think they really believe Obama is capable of any crime, any evil deed. They're constrained on birtherism by their fear of losing the public's favor; in the case of this "anti-colonialist" claptrap, because it's been criticized only in elite media circles and on lefty blogs, they feel they're free to run with it -- and I think they feel it's plausible because they actually do suspect Obama of wishing ill on this country.

They don't have to parrot every line of criticism -- Huckabee got away with defending Michelle Obama's sensible eating campaign -- but I think that's no longer a problem, because they all now sincerely agree that Obama's a left-wing radical who hates America, Israel, and the West, as well as a pure economic redistributionist indistinguishable from any card-carrying communist. They've drunk the Kool-Aid.


I SHOULD HAVE ADDED: If they don't really believe, they're not saying these things under duress -- they just believe that there's no downside for spreading these grotesque caricatures of Obama, and, politically, a huge potential upside.

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