My family and I went to see the documentary Obama 2016 yesterday. The documentary is based on Dinesh D’Souza’s book The Roots of Obama’s Rage which posits that the key to understanding Obama is that he is motivated by the same anti-colonial ideology that motivated his Kenyan father. I disagreed with his thesis, so I was uncertain whether I would enjoy the movie. Read below for my review of the film. The usual spoiler alert applies.
We saw the movie in Kankakee, Illinois at the Paramount Theater. I was surprised that over 200 people were present at the 1:00 PM showing which was astounding for a documentary in a relatively small community like the Kankakee-Bradley-Bourbonnais area. The crowd was rather a good deal more serious than most movie going crowds. They were obviously there to learn as well as to be entertained.
I was pleased at how good the production values were for the film. It cost 2.5 million to make and every dollar was well spent considering the polish of the final product. Dinesh D’Souza appeared on-screen as the narrator and did a first-rate job. He came across as someone genuinely curious to find out what motivates Obama. We follow him as he goes to Hawaii and Kenya to talk to people who knew the young Obama and his father. He also speaks to authors who have written about Obama, including Shelby Steele and Paul Kengor who has written a biography of the communist Frank Marshall Davis who served as a mentor and substitute father figure for Obama.
The central figure in the movie is Barack Hussein Obama, Sr. Born in Kenya to a Muslim family, he attended Christian mission schools and converted to Christianity (as a young man before meeting Ann Dunham, the mother of President Obama, he would renounce Christianity and become an atheist.). A bright student, he received a scholarship from a program organized by nationalist leader Tom Mboya. The money for the program came from black Americans and the Kennedy family. At 23 he went to the University of Hawaii and met Ann Dunham who was 17 years old. Dunham’s family was of a radical bent politically, and she quickly fell in love with Obama who was a black nationalist and a socialist. They married, Obama neglecting to mention to Dunham that he was already married in Kenya and had two kids. Soon after President Obama’s birth the couple separated, with Dunham going to the University of Saint Louis, and Obama senior graduating from Hawaii and going on to Harvard where he earned an AM in economics. Obama senior eventually went back to Kenya where he became a senior economist in the Kenyan government. He and Dunham divorced in 1964.
Obama junior grew up idolizing his absent father. When he was 10, his father made a month’s long trip to Hawaii to visit him, which confirmed in his boy the belief that his father was a great man. Only after his death in 1982 did Obama learn that Obama senior was a drunk who beat his four wives and who died in poverty as a result of his alcoholism.
D’Souza contends that from his father, and other far left individuals that he encountered during his early life, Obama embraced an anti-colonial ideology that views the United States as evil, Israel as evil and capitalism as evil. That statement over-simplifies D’Souza’s argument to some extent, but that is what it boils down to. If Obama is re-elected, D’Souza believes that the US will be militarily weak, confronting an ever more radical Islamic threat in the Middle East and our economy will have gone over the debt-cliff and be in shambles.
D’Souza makes a persuasive case in his film. I agree with D’Souza as to Obama’s disdain for capitalism, his suspicion of US power in the world, his contempt for Israel and his fondness for radical movements in the Third World. However I disagree that these are an inheritance from his father. Obama’s views are fairly typical of modern-day liberals and reflect intellectual trends that have been dominant on the port side of our politics since circa 1972 when the McGovernites captured the apparatus of the Democrat party. I believe that Obama would hold the same views if his father had come from Harlem instead of Kenya. Obama’s mother was probably a much greater influence on the young Obama and she was a typical far Left academic, filled with Third World romanticism, in short the type of individual who rose to dominate the Democrat party in the seventies. Obama’s beliefs are not exotic as D’Souza claims in his film, but rather typical of what is embraced by most Democrat politicians. More’s the pity.
Having said that I would still give the movie a thumbs up. I found it entertaining and informative and encourage people, especially those who know little about the background of Obama, to see it. The movie has become an unexpected hit, earning over fourteen million dollars thus far, which is phenomenal for a documentary. This is a film that people will not only see, but also talk about, judging from the rapt attention that the audience was paying to the film in the showing which I and my family attended.