Saturday, September 01, 2012

2016: Obama's America

2016: Obama's America has recently become the most successful conservative documentary film in history. That is a good enough reason to see it.

The movie is produced, written by, and stars Dinesh D'Souza, a longtime conservative activist and writer who spoke at Western in 2004. It is based on his books The Roots of Obama's Rage and Obama's America.

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First it should be noted that this documentary is very well produced, with lots of beautiful backdrops and nice graphics. It moves along nicely; as an 'entertaining' documentary, it doesn't get too deep, but covers the subject well given the restrictions of the medium.

2016 traces some of the ideological influences on Obama, beginning with Obama's book
Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance. Who was Obama's father, and what was his dream?

Barack Hussein Obama Sr. was a Kenyan anti-colonialist racial socialist. He was also a terrible person aside from his political views--a bigamist, wife-beater, and drunk driver who knocked up Obama's mother (Stanley Ann) and quickly abandoned her. As described in Dreams, his absence deeply affected young Barack, who created an idealized version of his father in his mind and resolved to be true to his ideals.

D'Souza travels to Hawaii, Indonesia, and Kenya to learn about Obama's childhood. He interviews a number of friends of the Obama family and documents Obama Sr.'s radical views. He shows how Obama was exposed to many leftist anti-American views, but never experienced America growing up (he first visited the American mainland at 18).

Along the way he interviews Barack's half-brother George Obama (who famously lives in a shack). George's surprisingly conservative views made this the highlight of the film for me. D'Souza contrasts Obama's upbringing with his own history of growing up in India and immigrating to America.

Obama consciously associated with radical leftists throughout his career. D'Souza briefly covers Obama's 20-year pastor Jeremiah Wright, an advocate of black liberation theology. He also profiles communist mentor Frank Marshall Davis, communist terrorist Bill Ayers, anti-colonialist Edward Said, and others.

Ever since Obama announced his campaign for President, conservatives have been trying to figure out what makes him tick. The biggest dichotomy is between those who believe he is well-meaning but pursuing bad policies and/or incompetent, and those who believe he is malevolently trying to damage America. After seeing the evidence of Obama's long association with radical leftists as documented in 2016 and elsewhere, the former view lacks plausibility.

That leaves the question of exactly what Obama's real views are. The best-known alternative views on Obama are the "birther" belief that he was really born in Kenya and the notion that he is secretly a Muslim. Both of these views lack support and contradict known facts about Obama. They have been promoted by the liberal media as a way of discrediting more serious criticisms of Obama, even though most conservatives (including D'Souza) reject them.

However, a number of serious conservative researchers, such as D'Souza, Stanley Kurtz, Steve Sailer, and Paul Kengor have offered more compelling insights into Obama. D'Souza believes that anti-colonialism is the key to understanding Obama. In his view, Obama wants to impoverish America and redistribute wealth to the Third World, while dismantling America's military influence abroad.

He cites as evidence Obama's returning of Winston Churchill's bust, denying offshore drilling in America while subsidizing it in Brazil, dismantling America's nuclear arsenal, hostility to Israel, and massive increases in government spending.

I think that D'Souza is right that anti-colonialism is a part of Obama's thinking, but I am not convinced that it is the key factor. For one thing, Obama seems much more focused on domestic policy than foreign policy. He seems to have taken the path of least resistance in Iraq and Afghanistan, far from pulling out immediately. He reversed course on Gitmo and public terror trials. And he killed Osama, though he reportedly canceled the mission three times prior and drafted a letter blaming the military if it failed. While Obama has not drastically changed America's foreign policy, he has nonetheless pursued leftist goals on the margins.

Domestically, it is true that Obama has drastically increased government spending and debt. But as Gary North points out, George W. Bush also significantly increased spending and debt (though less so than Obama), and pushed through Medicare Part D. And Congress was mostly happy to go along with the spending and debt increases. While Obama is clearly a radical leftist, he is also pragmatic, content to get what he can in bits and pieces. Obamacare is the one 'great leap forward' for his leftist vision.

D'Souza argues, plausibly enough, that if Obama is reelected, he will pursue his leftist vision more openly, without having to worry about ever running for office again.

Conservatives can reasonably disagree about what specific philosophy Obama holds. Is it the anti-colonialism of his father, the Marxism of Bill Ayers, the black liberation theology of Jeremiah Wright, the community organizing of Saul Alinsky, or some hybrid of all of them? We don't know for sure, but we do know that he has it in for America.

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