There's a lot not to like in Dinesh D'Souza's National Review interview, in which he defends his new book and Forbes piece which both make the case that Barack Obama is motivated by some kind of secret anti-colonialist ideology. Among a number of other statements that, I'm sorry to say, verged on conspiracy theory, this remark stood out:
D'SOUZA: Ramesh Ponnuru and others say Obama is a conventional liberal. But conventional liberals don't come out for the release of the Lockerbie bomber. Conventional liberals don't return the bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office. Conventional liberals don't block oil drilling in America while subsidizing oil drilling in Brazil. Conventional liberals don't try to turn the space agency NASA into a Muslim-outreach program.
My anti-colonial theory beautifully explains all these facts.... plug in the anti-colonial theory and you can explain the facts; remove it and Obama's behavior becomes almost impossibly difficult to account for.
There are two problems here. The first is that this line of reasoning is fallacious at a very basic level. You would hope that a reasonable person would come to that realization before using such logic as the basis for a book.
The other is that each of the "facts" D'Souza finds so troubling and bewildering -- most of which are not real facts -- are not related to the real-life bad things that Obama is doing. It's worrying that someone as influential as Newt Gingrich would invoke D'Souza's thesis as his basis for opposing Obama when Obama is promoting so many disastrous policies, none of which you need to dig through his background to find out. There really is no need to profile Obama's mentality or motivation to know that he has a lot of bad ideas.
And if you really wanted to know about Obama's background, the place to start would not be an apocalyptic reading of inconsequential and half-true stories from his presidency or poignant memories of his youth taken from his autobiographies -- that way lies madness. Instead it would be a review of his personal history and career as a politician. As far as I know, there is only one such non-fawning book, and it is The Case Against Barack Obama by David Freddoso. It's now ancient history, but with D'Souza's new book it's worth revisiting an interview I did with Freddoso when his book came out:
DF: Senator Obama votes for bills like the farm bill. He votes for a bridge to nowhere, and ethanol. He votes for and supports, generally, all the special-interest, corrupt systemic arrangements, where corporations are taking the taxpayer for a ride. Senator Obama is an avid supporter for all of these kinds of things, which is something I document in the book. He voted for ethanol twice, then went back and did his land deal with Tony Rezko on the same day: June 15, 2005.
All of these things form a broad pattern. It's not as if he does these things on occasion -- when he endorses the Cook County machine politician in the election it's not an isolated incident; it's something he's done consistently. He attached himself in Springfield at the hip with Emil Jones, the state senate majority leader, who represents precisely this kind of politics.
I believe that very few politicians from either party can claim to be reformers, because reformers usually lose elections. That's something Senator Obama knows and understands. He has never acted as a reformer because he doesn't want to lose elections. He wants to win, and so he sides with the winners, who are in Chicago some really bad people who are not interested in the common good, who definitely put their own interest in front of the public good. Throughout his career Senator Obama has put his parochial interests ahead of the common good.
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