Newt Gingrich managed to get his mug in the news this week by calling the President a con man and charging that Obama's Kenyan, anti-Western roots were showing in his efforts to respond to the world's worst recession since, well, the last worse recession. Gingrich found much to admire, and bloviate about, in a mind-reeling, extraterrestrial piece of crankery committed by Dinesh D'Souza in Forbes this week. Trouble is, you can only consider D'Souza's insights into Obama's apparently deeply troubled psyche valid, as Gingrich apparently does, if you believe in journalism via telepathy. Even opinion pieces have to reflect some actual facts. There is not a single quote or fact in here to back this thesis up, outside of some hail mary interpretations of a collection of maudlin moments extracted from Obama's memoirs. D'Souza bases his "insight" into the Obama paterunfamilias on one obscure article and extrapolates everything else out of thin air.
I'm surprised D'Souza relies on this bunch of tired attack notes extracted from Glenn Beck talking points memos and GOP disinformation campaigns. (Do I really have to break down the fake NASA story one more time?) There is little bizarre about all the supposedly shocking positions D'Souza cites.... When he's not just flat out wrong: "Why support oil drilling off the coast of Brazil but not in America?" Hello, before BP, Obama had green-lighted new horizons for offshore drilling around the US, much to the consternation of U.S. environmentalists. What's bizarre is that D'Souza thinks his examples express an oddness about Obama. Does anyone else not get that our overuse of fossil fuels has something to do with the BP meltdown in the gulf? Are we not capable of appreciating the multiple aspects of complex realities at the same time? And are Obama's presumed "anti-business" positions really off-kilter given the economic meltdown he was handed when he became president? Let's remember that he has had the unwelcome task of saving capitalism from itself over the last two years. While D'Souza says Obama is antibusiness because of his various mitigation efforts, from the left he has been repeatedly attacked for being too soft on Wall St. etc., a sure sign he is doing something right.
As to the central "insight," D'Souza offers, that Obama is channeling his Dad's anticolonialism, all I can say is the idea is truly bizarre and there's not a shred of evidence offered here to support this thesis. It's well known that Obama had no relationship with his father, how such a formidable mindset would have been handed down from father to son D'Souza doesn't bothers to describe because he has no satisfactory explanation for it. Unlike D'Souza, who finds it "remarkable" to believe otherwise, I don't find it hard to imagine that Obama was not familiar with an article penned by his father in 1965. I would find it odd if he actually tracked it down and read it. Back in the day, say more than two or three years ago, it was pretty hard to find reprints out of African economics journals at your average college library. D'Souza barely makes the case that Obama's dad was an anti-colonialist, certainly not that Obama is and what would the practical meaning of that be anyway? You don't have to be an anti-colonialist to be a supporter of a progressive marginal tax (the source of most of D'Souza's outrage). That form of taxation of the uber wealthy has long be part of the U.S. system and in fact was much worse during the reign of radicals like Eisenhower/Nixon when the highest bracket was, ready? 90 percent. Why do we tax the rich so much? Because they are the only ones who have money. If we truly want to close deficits, we will have to tax them more in the future and it won't matter who is president.
Anyways, aren't we Americans the original anti-colonialists? Remember old Mother England? Me neither, cuz we kicked her out on her ample royal! We have pushed back for decades against Europeans trying to overplay their influence in their old colonies, still do, when we weren't eagerly supporting indigenous efforts to kick them out in the first place.
Let's remember Occam's razor: Do we really have to create a convoluted theory of submerged black oppression and rage to explain Obama's antipathy to the rent-seeking that is destroying the U.S. health care system? (Does that explain my rage against this particularly gruesome machine?) No, more pedestrian explanations/motivations certainly suffice on this and a host of other Obama positions, most of which were clearly delineated during his campaign.
This theory, hoisted by a self-hating brown person attempting to extirpate his own colonialism-based rage and self-loathing (see how easy it is to concoct your own theories of pathology: no evidence necessary! Plus he wants to kill his father and sleep with his mother) is the perfect expression of our era's guilt by insinuation and association. So what's the point of this piece? Take a look at what's been happening with it, how it's being used. It allows people like Gingrich to justify their own base politicking on academic "theory," and once again raises Obama's "otherness" as an unspoken aspect of the 2010 and 12 campaigns. It's a neat trick to associate the dark-skinned president with the mostly brown anti-colonial movements of the 1960s and 70s, however, when Obama was, oh, 8 years old or so (I don't know how he found the time, what with all his work with the Weathermen). It's just one more way to connect him with anti-caucasoid, anti-Western, B-L-A-C-K revolutionary movements in the public imagination. There is a name for that: race baiting, a political art form the GOP has perfected since the 1960s with their southern strategy through Willie Horton, right up to today. It gets them votes dependably and just as dependably degrades the political process just a bit more each time.