In a March 2 NewsBusters post, Noel Sheppard takes another stab at defending Mike Huckabee over his factually dubious remarks about President Obama's background -- and doesn't do much better on the fact meter than Huckabee did.
Sheppard dutifully repeats Huckabee's defense that when he said Obama grew up in Kenya, he really meant to say that Obama grew up in Indonesia, and that in his newly released book, "clearly what I wrote was about his childhood in Indonesia, about his Kenyan father and grandfather who he says was tortured by the Brits during the Mau Mau revolution. All of that is spelled out." Sheppard then relates the story told by Obama's grandmother that his grandfather was jailed during the Kenyan independence movement, adding:
This report was all the rage that month in 2008, even getting quoted by the far-left website the Huffington Post.
As such, all Huckabee was citing in his book and repeated on Monday was established history of Obama’s family.
Is this suddenly verboten? Was Arianna guilty of hate speech for mentioning Obama's Kenyan father and grandfather at her website? Or are only liberals allowed to bring this up?
Both Huckabee and Sheppard get things wrong here. Salon's Justin Elliott, unlike Huckabee and Sheppard, actually researched the issue, pointing out that Obama’s family was never a part of the Mau Mau rebellion, and the prison time his grandfather served took place three years before the rebellion began. Elliott also quoted historian David Anderson about events in 1950s Kenya, when the Mau Mau rebellion occurred:
To portray the Obama family as being part of Mau Mau is stir-fry crazy. Let me explain why: The Obama family come from western Kenya, which is about as different from Nairobi and the Kikuyu area as Utah is from New York City. And it's almost as far way. They come from an area where there was no rebellion, there was no Mau Mau. So while his father and his grandmother may well have been nationalists -- I'm sure they were -- they weren't directly involved in the Mau Mau rebellion.
The other thing is, if you've read anything about Churchill, you'd know that, although he was the head of the government at the time of the Mau Mau rebellion, he was trying as best he could to get the British in Kenya to negotiate and to end the fighting. Churchill was not supporting or condoning the violence. He is actually one of the few British politicians who comes out of this smelling of roses.
Elliott sums up Huckabee’s (and Sheppard's) apparent views on the issue:
So a fleshed-out version of Huckabee's theory would go like this: Obama's grandfather hated the British because he was (supposedly) tortured in prison under the colonial regime a few years before the Mau Mau uprising. Therefore, President Obama must take a different view of the Mau Mau uprising -- in which his family played no part -- than Huckabee, who apparently supports the brutal measures used by the British to defeat the rebellion. And because of all that, Obama replaced a bust of Winston Churchill -- who himself wanted a peaceful solution to Mau Mau -- with a bust of Abraham Lincoln.
All of which makes Sheppard's defense that Huckabee merely made "a simple mistake the man has already acknowledged and apologized for" nonsensical because Obama's upbringing in Indonesia has nothing whatsoever to do with the Mau Mau rebellion.
That makes strike two in Sheppard's defense of Huckabee. Will he give it one more shot -- and, presumably, go down swinging?