Dinesh D’Souza Digs Himself in Deeper

Some more criticism of Forbes's disastrous Obama cover story

Dinesh D’Souza has responded to my, uh, criticism of his smear piece that, shamefully, made the cover of Forbes with its claims that Obama is directed by a “Kenyan, anticolonial” worldview (as Newt Gingrich succinctly summarized it) that comes from his dad, whom Obama met once.

(White House Press Secretary Robert) Gibbs fired a second salvo a few days later, asking, “Why didn’t Forbes hire a fact checker…did they simply not care about the facts?” Gibbs offered no facts of his own, however. He merely linked to two web posts–one in the Columbia Journalism Review, one on “The Fourth Branch”–that disputed the article. The Columbia Journalism Review piece was high on invective (“the worst kind of smear journalism–a singularly disgusting work,” blah blah blah) but simply quoted large segments of the article as if they were self-evidently appalling–which of course they are to all confirmed Obamorons, who are only satisfied with hosannas and genuflections before the Anoined One.

Well, I did a lot more than quote it as if it were self-evidently appalling. Go read it yourself.

But I’ll admit I pulled up a bit on it. I could have written another 5,000 words dissecting D’Souza’s baloney. So here’s some bonus criticism.

Here’s D’Souza and Forbes:

Consider this headline from the Aug. 18, 2009 issue of the Wall Street Journal: “Obama Underwrites Offshore Drilling.” Did you read that correctly? You did. The Administration supports offshore drilling—but drilling off the shores of Brazil. With Obama’s backing, the U.S. Export-Import Bank offered $2 billion in loans and guarantees to Brazil’s state-owned oil company Petrobras to finance exploration in the Santos Basin near Rio de Janeiro—not so the oil ends up in the U.S. He is funding Brazilian exploration so that the oil can stay in Brazil.

I pointed out the other day one reason this was one of the most moronic paragraphs ever to appear in Forbes (which is saying something!).

Oil is fungible, dude. But also, the point of the Ex-Im loans, which were approved by Bush officials, is that they finance our exports. We lend foreigners money to buy our stuff and create jobs here. We do it all the time.

Oh yeah, and “Ex-Im Bank does not make U.S. policy. In fact, our charter prohibits us from turning down financing for either nonfinancial or noncommercial reasons, except in rare circumstances including failure to meet our environmental standards.” That’s the Ex-Im Bank president writing last year in response to the fact-twisting Wall Street Journal editorial D’Souza cites.

In the paragraph immediately following that one, D’Souza pushes to break his own record in the annals of Forbes nonsense:

Obama railed on about “America’s century-long addiction to fossil fuels.” What does any of this have to do with the oil spill?

Hmm. We need lots of oil, so we keep going further afield to drill for it. When you drill in two-mile-deep water, it’s hard to plug a well. And so it gushes for three months. Is it really that hard to understand?

The next graph is just plain ignorant:

Obama’s Administration has declared that even banks that want to repay their bailout money may be refused permission to do so. Only after the Obama team cleared a bank through the Fed’s “stress test” was it eligible to give taxpayers their money back. Even then, declared Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, the Administration might force banks to keep the money.

See, there’s this thing called bank regulation. You have to keep a certain amount of capital to remain in good standing. Some banks didn’t have enough capital and posed risks to the entire financial system. Also, every bank that’s wanted to pay back their TARP funds has been allowed to do so. This is what happens when you rely on The Wall Street Journal editorial page—and a year-and-a half-old piece by a Fox anchor at that!—to find your arguments

And the next paragraph:

The President continues to push for stimulus even though hundreds of billions of dollars in such funds seem to have done little. The unemployment rate when Obama took office in January 2009 was 7.7%; now it is 9.5%.

That’s also disingenuous, at best. The nonpartisan CBO says between 1.1 million and 3.3 million Americans have jobs because of the stimulus spending, which added anywhere between 1.5 percentage points and 4.6 points to GDP last year.

Then there’s this gem?

Obama’s foreign policy is no less strange. He supports a $100 million mosque scheduled to be built near the site where terrorists in the name of Islam brought down the World Trade Center. Obama’s rationale, that “our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable,” seems utterly irrelevant to the issue of why the proposed Cordoba House should be constructed at Ground Zero.

So protecting the First Amendment is “foreign policy” now?

And how about this one (emphasis mine):

A few months ago nasa Chief Charles Bolden announced that from now on the primary mission of America’s space agency would be to improve relations with the Muslim world.

That’s twisted beyond any reasonable reading.

Are we getting the pattern now? If not, here’s more of D’Souza’s dishonest bid to paint the American president as anti-American:

A half-century later Alexis de Tocqueville wrote of America as creating “a distinct species of mankind.” This is known as American exceptionalism. But when asked at a 2009 press conference whether he believed in this ideal, Obama said no. America, he suggested, is no more unique or exceptional than Britain or Greece or any other country.

That’s simply false.

Here’s what Obama actually said:

I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism. I’m enormously proud of my country and its role and history in the world. If you think about the site of this summit and what it means, I don’t think America should be embarrassed to see evidence of the sacrifices of our troops, the enormous amount of resources that were put into Europe postwar, and our leadership in crafting an Alliance that ultimately led to the unification of Europe. We should take great pride in that.

And if you think of our current situation, the United States remains the largest economy in the world. We have unmatched military capability. And I think that we have a core set of values that are enshrined in our Constitution, in our body of law, in our democratic practices, in our belief in free speech and equality, that, though imperfect, are exceptional.

Now, the fact that I am very proud of my country and I think that we’ve got a whole lot to offer the world does not lessen my interest in recognizing the value and wonderful qualities of other countries, or recognizing that we’re not always going to be right, or that other people may have good ideas, or that in order for us to work collectively, all parties have to compromise and that includes us.

And so I see no contradiction between believing that America has a continued extraordinary role in leading the world towards peace and prosperity and recognizing that that leadership is incumbent, depends on, our ability to create partnerships because we create partnerships because we can’t solve these problems alone.

Apparently, D’Souza thinks that anyone who doesn’t think we should impose our views on the world or who thinks other countries have patriots, too, is a loinclothed, communist Luo tribesman hiding behind a Western suit and tie.

As I said on Monday, D’Souza goes on to completely misrepresent what Obama conveys about his father in his book Dreams From My Father. D’Souza’s entire warped thesis rests on the notion that Obama sees his father as an “inspirational hero.” But no honest reader of the book would come away with the idea that Obama idolizes his deadbeat dad.


If Obama shares his father’s anticolonial crusade, that would explain why he wants people who are already paying close to 50% of their income in overall taxes to pay even more.

Just who are these American taxpayers already paying close to 50 percent of their income in taxes? The liberal Citizens for Tax Justice says the highest overall tax rate (this includes federal, state, and local taxes) is 32.2 percent. The top 1 percent pay even less—30.9 percent. They include employer-paid FICA taxes as income, which seems wrong to me. But the conservative Tax Foundation reports that the top 0.1 percent pay an effective federal tax rate of 21.5 percent. The last total tax rate I see from them is 2004, when it reported that the top quintile of earners paid an average total tax rate of 34.5 percent. They don’t break out the top 1 percent, but their rate would actually be lower than that of the top 20 percent as a whole.

Finally, D’Souza denies in his blog post that the piece is racist, but of course it is. Indeed, it’s racist at its rotten core. That’s the whole point. You can’t write stuff like “Incredibly, the U.S. is being ruled according to the dreams of a Luo tribesman of the 1950s,” and credibly assert that it’s not racist. Or how about this doozy at the end of his blogpost:

No, Obama is not a Muslim. No, Obama is not a socialist. The truth is far worse.

Worse than a Muslim or a socialist!

That Forbes gave the cover of its mainstream magazine to this piece will be a black mark on its reputation for a long, long time.

(UPDATE: For more on Forbes see this post—Audit Notes: Forbes Compares Obama to Lenin, Racist BS, Some Sanity

Further Reading:

Forbes’ Shameful Piece on Obama as the “Other”: The worst kind of smear journalism by Dinesh D’Souza

David Weigel: “Why is Gingrich pushing Dinesh D’Souza’s crazy theory about Obama’s ‘Kenyan anti-colonialism’?”

David Frum
: “When last was there such a brazen outburst of race-baiting in the service of partisan politics at the national level? George Wallace took more care to sound race-neutral.”

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at rc2538@columbia.edu. Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum.