Huckabee’s hucksterism

    If you expend mental energy wondering whether Mike Huckabee will launch a ’12 presidential bid – and hey, who doesn’t? – suffice it to say that his remarks on a Monday radio show suggest he’s good to go.It’s simple, really: A huge chunk of the conservative Republican primary electorate continues to be willfully clueless about President Obama’s personal history…and here was Fox News host Huckabee, on the radio, blatantly pandering to the willfully clueless.The first rule of political hucksterism is, tell ’em what they want to hear – even if what they want to hear is hogwash.During an appearance on WOR’s Steve Malzberg Show, Huckabee fielded a softball question about the faux birth certificate issue, and ran with it: “I would love to know more. What I know is troubling enough.” For instance, Huckabee declared with great certitude, Obama is anti-British because he grew up in British-colonized Kenya.”If you think about it,” said Huckabee, “his perspective as growing up in Kenya, with a Kenyan father and grandfather, their view of the Mau Mau Revolution (uprising against British rule) is very different than ours, because he probably grew up hearing that the British were a bunch of imperialists who persecuted his grandfather.”Kenya, Africans, Mau Maus…what better way to stoke the fear factor among the white conservatives who typically dominate the Iowa caucuses and the early primaries in New Hampshire and South Carolina?The problem is, Huckabee was lying. At least for those of us who dwell in the world of factual reality, the truth is that Obama did not grow up in Kenya. And he barely knew his father. His parents divorced when he was a child and he was raised by his white Kansas mother and white maternal grandparents. He did visit Kenya after his dad died in an auto accident – but on that occasion, he was 26.It gets better. Late yesterday, a Huckabee flak offered a mea culpa, insisting that the prospective presidential candidate “simply misspoke when he alluded to President Obama growing up in ‘Kenya.'” Then Huckabee himself surfaced. He said that, yes, Obama does appear to have been born in Hawaii – and he insisted that his own Kenya citations on the radio had been “a simple slip of the tongue.”But in the annals of spin, that was pitifully weak. How are we to believe that Huckabee’s multiple references to Kenya were inadvertent, when he expended so much air time on details that were specific to Kenya – such as British colonialism, the Mau Mau Revolution, and a riff about Winston Churchill that he apparently lifted from a June ’10 Glenn Beck treatise?Whatever. But Huckabee’s spin guy wasn’t finished yet. Mindful of all those conservative primary voters, he pandered one more time: “The governor meant to say the president grew up in Indonesia.”Wrong again. The president lived in Indonesia only from ages six and 10. He grew up back where he had been born, in Hawaii.There’s an old line in politics about how, if you’re stuck in a hole, stop digging. But that advice doesn’t really apply in this instance. Huckabee’s intended audience heard what it wanted to hear. Kenya, Mau Maus, Indonesia – it’s all stuff that makes Obama sound like The Other, and that image is de rigeur within the clueless comfort zone.No wonder Huckabee continues to score so well in the Republican polls. Like any good huckster, he knows how to peddle his wares.——-Speaking of specious spin, I give you the case of Christopher Dodd.Last year, as his Democratic senatorial career was waning, Dodd told the Connecticut press that, upon retirement, he would not join the Washington influence-peddling industry; that, unlike so many ex-colleagues he would not become a “revolving door” lobbyist. In his words, “no lobbying, no lobbying.”Yesterday, he agreed to head the Washington-based Motion Picture Association of America – and thus become Hollywood’s top lobbyist.So how does he reconcile his ’10 words with his ’11 action?It’s simple, really: Dodd said yesterday that when he promised “no lobbying, no lobbying,” he was referring only to personal lobbying – in other words, that he would not directly try to lobby his former colleagues. (Indeed, federal law bars ex-senators from doing that, during the first two years out of office.) So, Dodd in his remarks last year apparently gave himself enough wiggle room to take a marquee lobbying job that pays $1.2 million a year and requires that he advise his subordinate lobbyists on how best to lobby his former colleagues.Are these guys slippery, or what?

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