Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee relapsed into popular post-birther critique mode this week. On Tuesday, Huckabee told conservative radio host Steve Malzberg that Barack Obama had “grown up in Kenya.” Of course, that statement’s false, and Huckabee’s staff later said that he misspoke. But it’s not the first, and certainly won’t be the last, attack against Obama’s citizenship.
Which is a bit strange since, as Adam Serwer wrote over at The Plum Line, “between his two autobiographies, we probably know more about the president’s personal life than just about any other person who has held the office.”
So what’s behind the recurring urge to paint the president into a caricature of some dangerous, un-American “other”? Stephen Stromberg makes a good argument, writing that conservative culture’s addiction to birther-esque arguments:
…demonstrates the extent to which references to birther-like mythology — and its less-offensive-but-still-pretty-absurd cousin, the Dinesh D’Souza-inspired speculations about Obama’s “Kenyan, anti-colonial worldview” — have become embedded in conservative political culture. It demonstrates the extent to which Republican politicians feel the need to indulge the portions of the GOP base for whom Obama’s “Kenyan” roots matter — whether by asking for his birth certificate or merely suggesting that this man, who has in many ways lived a quintessentially American life, is nothing like the rest of us in some fundamental, worryingly foreign way.