Two Thumbs Up For Dinesh D'souza's Obama Film, "2016"
The film “2016: Obama’s America” isn’t going to change a lot of minds about who should (and shouldn’t) be president of the United States. Those who favor Barack Obama’s re-election won’t go to see it – and those who see it have already decided he’s not the best choice.
I saw it at the Uptown Theatre in Birmingham, with only about a dozen other people. In fairness, there weren’t many people at the other seven screens at the theater on Wednesday evening. According to the Washington Post, in its first week at the box office at the end of last month the movie “grossed about $6.5 million to land at No. 7, nearly $800,000 ahead of Meryl Streep’s latest, the Obamically titled “Hope Springs.””
Whatever the film’s power to attract an audience, Dinesh D’souza – a conservative intellectual and president of King’s College in New York – deserves much credit for bringing to wide distribution what he first explored in two books: “Obama’s America: Unmaking the American Dream” and “The Roots of Obama’s Rage.”
In a nutshell, D’souza’s documentary scores on a couple of points. The first is that few people really know much about Obama or the significant influences in his life. Yes, we know he was abandoned as a toddler by his Kenyan father; but have we considered deeply who this guy was and how Obama’s longing to understand and perhaps champion his father’s anti-colonialist ideas are shaping American politics? D’souza has.
Ever heard of the late Frank Marshall Davis? Neither did I. He was a writer, pornographer and Communist living in Hawaii who befriended young Barack at the age of ten and remained close to him until the latter left for college. Others have noted Obama’s ties to Davis and played down the ideological association. D’souza sees them as important.
Starting in college, Obama’s associations were primarily with one leftist professor, thinker or organizer after another, most of whom preached that American society was slanted against the poor, an injustice that could and should be redressed by policies like heavy taxation of the rich. In the case of the Rev. Jermiah Wright, D'souza gives credence to the claim that the Obama campaign muted Wright's friendship with the candidate. Obama partisans were afraid that Wright's outrageous anti-American views might have cost them the election.
In a sequence rich with unintended irony, D’souza documents how Barack Obama Sr. left a trail of wives and children around the world. What? Barack Obama’s dad a polygamist? Wasn’t that supposed to be the knock on Mormons, like Mitt Romney?
D’souza, an immigrant from India, shows the parallels between his life and Obama. Both are non-white and descended from ancestors who lived under British colonialism. Both graduates of Ivy League schools, Obama from Columbia and Harvard, D’souza from Dartmouth. Yet the two hold seemingly opposite views of American society: one who argues that the country is rich in opportunity for anyone who exercises the initiative to take it; the other who sees deep divides between rich and poor that must be redressed with policies by an ever-expanding federal government.
As a piece of moviemaking, “2016” is no “Gone With the Wind.” It’s not even “Fahrenheit 9/11,” Michael Moore’s diatribe against the Bush administration. The film is a well-documented exploration into the intellectual roots of White House policy from 2008-2012 – topped by a frightening prediction of what’s waiting for America if such policies continue for another four years.