So it’s come to this: Forbes cover story on “How Obama Thinks” is a gross piece of innuendo—a fact-twisting, error-laden piece of paranoia. This is the worst kind of smear journalism—a singularly disgusting work.

Forbes for some reason gives Dinesh D’Souza the cover and lots of space to froth about the notion popular in the right-wing fever swamps that Obama is an “other”; that he doesn’t think like “an American,” that his actions benefit foreigners rather than Amurricans. It’s too kind to call this innuendo. It’s far too overt for that.

Here are some of the red flags up top:

Barack Obama is the most antibusiness president in a generation, perhaps in American history… The President’s actions are so bizarre that they mystify his critics and supporters alike… More strange behavior… The oddities go on and on… 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… the Obama Administration supported the conditional release of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber convicted in connection with the deaths of 270 people, mostly Americans… One more anomaly: 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… Theories abound to explain the President’s goals and actions.

And then there’s this:

These theories aren’t wrong so much as they are inadequate. Even if they could account for Obama’s domestic policy, they cannot explain his foreign policy. The real problem with Obama is worse—much worse. But we have been blinded to his real agenda because, across the political spectrum, we all seek to fit him into some version of American history. In the process, we ignore Obama’s own history. Here is a man who spent his formative years—the first 17 years of his life—off the American mainland, in Hawaii, Indonesia and Pakistan, with multiple subsequent journeys to Africa.

A good way to discern what motivates Obama is to ask a simple question: What is his dream? Is it the American dream? Is it Martin Luther King’s dream? Or something else?

It is certainly not the American dream as conceived by the founders.

It’s all here but the birth certificate!

Let’s unpack that stuff a little bit. First of all, D’Souza perpetuates the Cokie Roberts idiocy—that Hawaii is somehow less American than the rest of the U.S. But hey—no problems with Alaska, which came into the Union the same year. Somehow, Sarah Palin always seem to be an examplar of “Real America.” Hmmm.

But D’Souza has some real nerve here: Obama is a native-born American and D’Souza is not. When he says “Here is a man who spent his formative years—the first 17 years of his life—off the American mainland,” he could be referring to himself. According to Wikipedia, anyway, he was born in India in 1961 and never came to the States until 1978. That adds up to about “the first 17 years of his life—off the American mainland.” Somehow the first-seventeen years thing raises questions about Obama’s Americanness but not about D’Souza’s qualifications to question somebody’s degree of native-born Americanness.

This is loathsome stuff. And, again, it’s the cover story of one of the three big mainstream financial magazines.

There’s more “Obama isn’t one of us” stuff here:

What then is Obama’s dream? We don’t have to speculate because the President tells us himself in his autobiography, Dreams from My Father. According to Obama, his dream is his father’s dream…

So who was Barack Obama Sr.? He was a Luo tribesman who grew up in Kenya and studied at Harvard. He was a polygamist who had, over the course of his lifetime, four wives and eight children. One of his sons, Mark Obama, has accused him of abuse and wife-beating. He was also a regular drunk driver who got into numerous accidents, killing a man in oneand causing his own legs to be amputated due to injury in another. In 1982 he got drunk at a bar in Nairobi and drove into a tree, killing himself.

An odd choice, certainly, as an inspirational hero.

Did anybody come away from reading Dreams From My Father with the idea that Obama thought his father was a hero? I sure didn’t.

The veneer of respectability, if you can call it that, that D’Souza and Forbes put on this noxious near-McCarthyite junk is that Obama is an “anticolonialist.” It’s thin gruel. And, hey—I’m an anticolonialist, too. And so were George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and the rest of the gang.

But D’Souza and Forbes go on to smear Obama with his father’s life and work. And this is where you figure out that “anticolonialist” is just a code word for “anti-American.” Let’s remember that Obama met his father one time in his life. D’Souza:

As Obama Sr. put it, “We need to eliminate power structures that have been built through excessive accumulation so that not only a few individuals shall control a vast magnitude of resources as is the case now.” The senior Obama proposed that the state confiscate private land and raise taxes with no upper limit. In fact, he insisted that “theoretically there is nothing that can stop the government from taxing 100% of income so long as the people get benefits from the government commensurate with their income which is taxed.”

Remarkably, President Obama, who knows his father’s history very well, has never mentioned his father’s article. Even more remarkably, there has been virtually no reporting on a document that seems directly relevant to what the junior Obama is doing in the White House.

Obama wants to let the Bush tax cuts expire for the top 2% and return to the 39.6 percent rate from the current 36 percent? Well, that’s because his no-account dad was an African commie! Three point six percentage points.

So Barack Obama, who falls somewhere on the middle or right side of the spectrum of modern American liberalism, is now an outsider motivated by anti-American ideals. The birthers got nothin’ on this guy.

The atrociousness isn’t limited to the smears. This, for instance, has to be one of the stupidest paragraphs ever written in Forbes (emphasis mine):

The President’s actions are so bizarre that they mystify his critics and supporters alike. 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.

Get that? The oil that Petrobras pumps will only go to Brazil because it’s owned by Brazil. So Hugo Chavez will sell us his Citgo gas, but Lula won’t? And even if it somehow did (it should be noted that Petrobras has an American affiliate), that would mean Brazil would need less oil from elsewhere, which means more for us. Supply and demand, dude. Oil is fungible. Gah.

And here’s the obscene kicker:

Incredibly, the U.S. is being ruled according to the dreams of a Luo tribesman of the 1950s. This philandering, inebriated African socialist, who raged against the world for denying him the realization of his anticolonial ambitions, is now setting the nation’s agenda through the reincarnation of his dreams in his son. The son makes it happen, but he candidly admits he is only living out his father’s dream. The invisible father provides the inspiration, and the son dutifully gets the job done. America today is governed by a ghost.

Forbes has shamed itself with this one.

(UPDATE: See more here. And more on Steve Forbes and Forbes’s comparing Obama to Lenin here.

Further Reading:

Audit Notes: D’Souza and Forbes Edition


Dinesh D’Souza Digs Himself in Deeper
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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.