Wednesday, September 15, 2010
In case you haven't seen it yet -- and if you have, your neighbors probably already know it from the sound of you hitting yourself repeatedly in the head with a phone book -- conservative "intellectual" Dinesh D'Souza penned a hilarious bit of crackpottery for the most recent issue of Forbes magazine. In a cover story called "How Obama Thinks," D'Souza manages to trot out every tired and disgraceful conspiracy theory ever proffered about Obama while still pretending to reach the kind of revelatory conclusion tailor-made to be debated ad nauseam by Fox News Roundtables over the next few weeks.
D'Souza's supposed goal is to try to get to the bottom of that strange and mythical creature known as Barack Obama, an endlessly frustrating specter which seems to stymie any and all attempts to understand it. For those not paying attention, this has been a right-wing obsession since about ten minutes after Obama won the election in 2008: the attempt to make sense of how someone like Barack Obama could suddenly and inexplicably be the president of "our America." Well, thank God D'Souza's on the case, because only someone with his keen insight could reach the conclusion he has; the elusive answer to why Obama continues to make all these decisions "our America" is so angrily opposed to while being so oblivious to his own unpopularity; why he just doesn't get us.
It's because he's a "Kenyan anti-colonialist."
Yes, all of 14 words into the piece's lede, D'Souza and his editor at Forbes suggest that the answer to Barack Obama's obstinacy to the ideals of mom, apple pie and NASCAR can be found in his "roots." What follows is, by any standard, an incomprehensible mess of an article. I've never thought Dinesh D'Souza to be a genius, but he generally makes some attempt to get his facts straight -- or at the very least keep his arguments consistent. Not this time. He wants us to believe that there's some sort of genetic predisposition in the president to being un-American, handed down by his Kenyan father -- who left Barack Obama when he was two-years-old, by the way, and whom he saw only once thereafter. If you believe D'Souza, Obama is like Tarzan, fighting the imperialist interlopers riding on the back of an elephant -- not accepting that the U.S. has every right to do with the globe as it sees fit because of a cultural bias that's ingrained in his DNA.
Does any of this sound familiar?
I've always said that the irrational animosity and outrage directed at Barack Obama goes much, much deeper than simply the color of his skin. Sure, there are racist assholes within the Tea Party movement, but that doesn't explain the overwhelming sense of dread that a small but vocal portion of this country just can't seem to shake knowing Obama is in the White House. It's true that Obama has made some unpopular decisions, but most are unforgivable only to a very select portion of the electorate -- and that's the portion that D'Souza is attempting to speak for, the people whose wounds he hopes to salve and whose inconsolable vitriol he seeks to justify by putting the blame for their fury squarely on Obama's shoulders. Try this on for size instead: Maybe there's nothing especially wrong with Barack Obama and there's everything wrong with the way the Tea Party dingbats choose to see him. For them, Obama represents the final crushing blow to the dream that was their America. Hence the constant, shrill cries of "we want our country back."
All D'Souza's doing is recycling the most outlandish of the right's Manchurian President ghost stories and slapping a shiny new coat of pseudo-intellectual paint on it. He's completely full of shit in advancing yet another theory that casts Obama as not "one of us" -- an especially offensive implication given that D'Souza himself was born in India and lived there for the first 17 years of his life -- and doing it via a generally respectable magazine like Forbes, which he's now turned into nothing more than a soapbox from which to spout his exhausting right-wing superiority fantasies.
Conservative columnist Kathleen Parker -- who's proven time and time again that she's mercifully free of the stunted argumentative tactics of an ideologue -- may have summed up D'Souza's piece best when she said that it could represent the official jump-the-shark moment when it comes to even the rational right's derangement over Obama. She rightly claims that, at this point, all that's left is for somebody to call Obama a pod person who's preparing America for a coming extraterrestrial invasion.
And you know what?
There are plenty of people out there who'd believe that.