I'm reading through Dinesh D'Souza's forthcoming book, The Roots of Obama's Rage, and finding it a slow-going affair -- not because the writing is particularly dense or nuanced, but because much of it makes little to no sense.
On pages 40-41, for example, D'Souza argues that the “anti-colonial” worldview Obama inherited from his father leads him to have a dismissive attitude toward the old European colonial powers, France and Britain in particular. According to D'Souza, the way Obama expresses his hatred for the French is to -- and here's the tricky part -- court their adulation:
By itself this admission may mean little, but now consider Obama's June 2009 visit to Paris, where he was invited to dinner by the French prime minister Nicolas Sarkozy and his model wife Carla Bruni. The Obamas declined. Their refusal was odd, given that they were staying at the residence of the U.S. ambassador just yards from the Sarkozy residence in the Élysée apartments. The French press noted the snub, but there wasn't much of a ruckus even among the usually prickly French. In fact, the Pew Research surveys show that the Europeans in general, and especially the French, remain enthusiastic about Obama. How can this be explained if Obama has a streak that is anti-European and specifically anti-French?
The answer, of course, is that Obama has won over the French by criticizing his own country. The French are sensitive to snubs of their leaders, but this is a small price to pay for an American leader who comes to France and apologizes for American arrogance. It was in Strasbourg three months earlier that Obama delighted the French by saying, “In America, there's a failure to appreciate Europe's leading role in the world. Instead of celebrating your dynamic union and seeking to partner with you to meet common challenges, there have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive.” Much is forgiven in Paris for an American leader who kowtows in this way. Thus Obama can bash neocolonial America and stiff the prime minister of the old colonialists while at the same time basking in their adulation -- quite a rhetorical feat indeed.
I'm having difficulty understanding why an American president with “a streak that is anti-European and specifically anti-French” would want to “win over” or “kowtow” to the French people. I'm also curious as to how Obama's invitation to Sarkozy and Bruni to dine at the White House fits in with the anti-colonial snub strategy. Also, D'Souza neglected to explain what the French thought of these sentences from Obama's Strasbourg speech, which immediately followed the lines he quoted: “But in Europe there is anti-Americanism that is at once casual but can also be insidious. Instead of recognizing the good that America so often does in the world, there have been times where Europeans choose to blame America for much of what's bad.”
It could be that the “prickly French” aren't as sensitive to criticisms of themselves as they are to “snubs of their leaders.” Or maybe D'Souza just writes words without really thinking about what he's saying.