Heather Mac Donald writes:
Forbes magazine has now “fact-checked” Dinesh D’Souza’s infamous September 27 cover story, “How Obama Thinks,” and has uncovered one “slight” misrepresentation, it says, of an Obama speech on the BP oil spill. Such a “fact-checking” feint is irrelevant to this travesty of an article; you can’t “fact-check” a fever dream of paranoia and irrationality. Sickeningly, while “How Obama Thinks” is useless as a guide to the Obama presidency, it is all too representative of the hysteria that now runs through a significant portion of the right-wing media establishment. The article is worth analyzing at some length as an example of the lunacy that is poisoning much conservative discourse.
D’Souza argues that Obama’s policies are motivated by a hatred towards American power absorbed from his Kenyan father. He offers exactly zero evidence for his hackneyed psychological theory. But the most laughable weakness in D’Souza’s thesis is the fact that the policies which D’Souza presents as the “dreams of a Luo tribesman” have a decades-long American pedigree and are embraced by wide swathes of the American electorate and political class. If support for progressive taxation, greater government regulation of health care, stimulus spending, and conservation make one the tool of the African anticolonial movement, then Paul Krugman, Robert Reich, Al Gore, Nancy Pelosi, John Kenneth Galbraith, FDR, and the Sierra Club are all Third World agents provocateurs.
D’Souza attributes Obama’s tax policies, for example, to his anticolonialism pact with his dead father:
If Obama shares his father’s anticolonial crusade, that would explain why he wants people who are already paying close to 50% of their income in overall taxes to pay even more. The anticolonialist believes that since the rich have prospered at the expense of others, their wealth doesn’t really belong to them; therefore whatever can be extracted from them is automatically just.
Never mind that Washington Democrats and pundits have been calling for the rich to finally pay their “fair share” long before Obama came on the scene. Suddenly, soaking the rich is a black African import—at least when a black president embraces the program.
Obamacare is likewise an outcropping of a filial crusade to vindicate a deceased African progenitor, in D’Souza’s view:
Obama seeks to decolonize [the health sector], and this means bringing [it] under the government’s leash. . . . For Obama, health insurance companies on their own are oppressive racketeers, but once they submitted to federal oversight he was happy to do business with them. He even promised them expanded business as a result of his law forcing every American to buy health insurance.
(D’Souza tries to make a fine distinction here between “socializing” the health sector, which he says that Obama forswears, and “decolonizing” it. I have no idea what he is talking about.)
Barney Frank and John Conyers regularly railed against the greedy insurance companies during the health care debate. D’Souza would quite possibly see in Conyers’ denunciations another African relic, but what about Barney Frank? A mandate for universal coverage is the necessary flip-side to the ban on excluding pre-existing conditions—a widely embraced goal of conventional health care reform; it has nothing to do with a “decolonizing” mission, whatever that means. Moreover, liberals denounced Obama for his distance from the health care debate, yet somehow the final results are the product of a Kenyan mindset.
D’Souza’s twisted hermeneutics are unending. After the BP oil spill, Obama railed against America’s disproportionate consumption of oil and its “century-long addiction to fossil fuels.” Where have I heard those criticisms before? Just about from every Democratic politician and a large number of Republicans as well. D’Souza finds it part of Obama’s “strange behavior,” however, that he would denounce America’s oil appetite after the oil spill, a gesture that has a patent political, as well as a not implausible substantive, logic.
In fact, there is not a single policy that Obama has pursued since taking office that does not grow out of the American tradition of left-wing liberalism or more immediately out of the Bush Administration, the latter including bailouts of Detroit and Wall Street, drone strikes in Pakistan, continuation of the doomed Freedom Agenda in Afghanistan, and invocations of the state secrets act to protect anti-terror actions from judicial scrutiny.
But D’Souza is determined to present Obama as an alien within the body politic. He opens his article with an anaphoric refrain of strangeness and foreignness:
The President’s actions are so bizarre that they mystify his critics and supporters alike. . . . More strange behavior . . . The oddities go on and on . . . Obama’s foreign policy is no less strange.
The only thing strange here is D’Souza’s interpretation of Obama’s standard-issue liberalism as a scary foreign import.
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