D'Souza's The Roots of Obama's Rage rooted in lies
In his new book The Roots of Obama's Rage, Dinesh D'Souza theorizes that President Obama is motivated by an “anti-colonial” ideology inherited from his father, and boasts that this theory explains Obama's actions in a way “that no rival theory can even begin to do.” In reality, D'Souza's absurd “anti-colonial” theory is premised upon a series of false and misleading claims.
1. CLAIM: Obama “hadn't lifted a finger to help a destitute close relative,” half-brother George
From pages 3-4 of The Roots of Obama's Rage:
I'm a conservative, and I didn't vote for Obama. During the 2008 presidential campaign, I read an interesting article in the London Telegraph titled “Barack Obama's Lost Brother Found in Kenya.” The article featured a picture of a 26-year-old man standing inside a ramshackle hut on the outskirts of Nairobi. CNN confirmed the story, reporting, “We found Barack Obama's half-brother living in a Nairobi slum.” He was George Hussein Obama, the product of a liaison between Barack Obama Sr. and an African woman. “I live here on less than a dollar a month,” George said. Humiliated by his poverty, he confessed he never mentioned his famous half-brother. “I say we are not related. I am ashamed.” In 2006, George briefly met Barack Obama, who was then a United States senator from Illinois, but felt as though he was talking to a “total stranger.” I found it remarkable that Barack Obama, who had a net worth of several million dollars and who was within striking distance of the world's highest office, hadn't lifted a finger to help a destitute close relative.
Seeing from the article that George Obama aspired to be a mechanic, I started the “George Obama Compassion Fund.” On a daily blog I wrote for AOL at the time, I invited people to make small contributions to help George move out of his hut and get some training to realize his dreams. We raised a couple of thousand dollars, and a Christian missionary promised he would deliver the money in person to George. Then I was contacted by a reporter for a large newspaper in Kenya who told me that the Obama family had refused the money. Evidently they had consulted with the Obama campaign and been told to go into hiding. My attempts to locate George proved unavailing. So I tore up the checks, figuring that perhaps I had jostled Obama into doing something for George, if only to save himself from political embarrassment.
REALITY: George Obama is a community organizer, chooses to live among poor
The Associated Press reported on June 14, 2009, that George Obama had signed a deal with Simon & Schuster to write a book detailing his “fall into crime and poverty as a teenager and his eventual embrace of community organizing -- a passion shared by the president -- and of advocacy for the poor, an identification so strong that he chooses to live among them.” As Media Matters documented, after conservatives (like D'Souza) used the initial reports of George Obama's living conditions to attack President Obama, George called the reports “exaggerated” in an interview with CNN, saying: “I was brought up well. I live well even now.” George added: “I think I kind of like it here. I'm Kenyan, so definitely I'd really love to live in Kenya.”
2. CLAIM: Obama initiated financial, auto industry bailouts
D'Souza twice indicates that Obama initiated the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and the federal bailout of the automobile industry. From page 5 (emphasis added):
As Obama launched his spending spree -- a bailout plan followed by a stimulus plan followed by an automobile industry rescue plan followed by a national health care plan and then new environmental and financial regulations -- I became alarmed.
From pages 17-18 (emphasis added):
At the same time, Obama has transformed the relationship between American citizens and their government. He has passed the most significant raft of laws since the Great Society: the bank rescue plan, the auto industry bailout, the stimulus package, sweeping regulation of Wall Street, a complete remaking of the health care system.
REALITY: Both programs were begun under Bush
The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (commonly known as the bank bailout) was signed into law -- as its name indicates -- on October 3, 2008, by then-president George W. Bush. In December 2008, Bush announced that $13.4 billion of the funds allocated by Congress for the bank bailout would be loaned to General Motors and Chrysler to prevent the companies from collapsing. Bush said at the time: “In the midst of a financial crisis and a recession, allowing the U.S. auto industry to collapse is not a responsible course of action. The question is how we can best give it a chance to succeed.”
3. CLAIM: Obama started going by “Barack” to adopt his father's “African identity”
On pages 26-27, D'Souza writes that Obama “is his father's son, and his dreams are derived from his father's aspirations and failures.” Expanding on this claim, he writes:
Obama even took his father's name in order to cement his explicit identification with him, and they way he did so is even more revealing. Young Obama's parents named him Barack, after his father. But from birth until his young adult years, he was known as Barry. Actually, Obama's dad was also called Barry; Barry was the name he adopted when he came as a student from Kenya to America. While the father went from Barack to Barry, however, the son went in the opposite direction. As a young man, Obama asked people to stop calling him Barry and instead to call him Barack. For Obama's father, the switch from Barack to Barry was no big deal; he was just doing what many immigrants do in order to fit in. For the son, by contrast, the move from Barry to Barack was a very big deal. He didn't just take his father's identity; he self-consciously rejected his father's American name in favor of the senior Obama's African identity.
REALITY: Obama on name switch: “It was not some assertion of my African roots”
D'Souza sourced his claim to a March 22, 2008, Newsweek article titled “When Barry Became Barack.” According to that article:
Obama wanted a clean slate. “Going to New York was really a significant break. It's when I left a lot of stuff behind,” he says. “I think there was a lot of stuff going on in me. By the end of that year at Occidental, I think I was starting to work it through, and I think part of the attraction of transferring was, it's hard to remake yourself around people who have known you for a long time.” It was when he got to New York that, as he recalls it, he began to ask people to call him Barack: “It was not some assertion of my African roots ... not a racial assertion. It was much more of an assertion that I was coming of age. An assertion of being comfortable with the fact that I was different and that I didn't need to try to fit in in a certain way.”
4. CLAIM: Obama's push for a “nuclear-free world” is evidence of his “anti-colonialism”
D'Souza claims on page 38 that Obama “must constantly translate his ideology into terms that are accessible and palatable to the American people,” adding:
He cannot say that he hates the rich, so he has to talk about fairness and equality. He cannot say America is a nuclear menace to the world, so he has to say that he wants a nuclear-free world. He cannot say he thinks Wall Street is evil, so he must accuse the investment firms of not looking out for the interests of Main Street. Obama sometimes blows it; he doesn't always succeed with his anti-colonial marketing. Even his attempt, however, is impressive; this is a skill he has been honing for many years.
REALITY: If this is true, then Ronald Reagan was also “anti-colonial”
Obama, in his April 5, 2009, speech in Prague, called for a world free of nuclear weapons:
OBAMA: So today, I state clearly and with conviction America's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons. I'm not naive. This goal will not be reached quickly -- perhaps not in my lifetime. It will take patience and persistence. But now we, too, must ignore the voices who tell us that the world cannot change.
In his second inaugural address, Ronald Reagan also called for a world without nuclear weapons:
REAGAN: There is only one way safely and legitimately to reduce the cost of national security, and that is to reduce the need for it. And this we are trying to do in negotiations with the Soviet Union. We are not just discussing limits on a further increase of nuclear weapons. We seek, instead, to reduce their number. We seek the total elimination one day of nuclear weapons from the face of the Earth.
In an April 14 Wall Street Journal op-ed, George Shultz, secretary of state under Reagan, wrote of Obama's nuclear strategy:
President Barack Obama shares President Ronald Reagan's desire to rid the world of nuclear weapons. He also shares Reagan's conviction that as long as nuclear weapons exist, the United States must maintain its deterrent capability through a stockpile of nuclear weapons that are secure, safe and reliable.
5. CLAIM: Obama “support[ed] the release” of the Lockerbie bomber
D'Souza writes that Obama sometimes “supports the release of terrorists who claim to be fighting wars of liberation against American aggression,” citing as evidence a letter the Obama State Department sent to the Scottish government which, according to D'Souza, took the position that releasing Abdel Baset al-Megrahi -- the Lockerbie bomber -- “was acceptable.” From pages 43-44:
Obama's anti-colonialism, however, takes him far beyond the rejection of mere symbols; in some cases, he supports the release of terrorists who claim to be fighting wars of liberation against American aggression. In July 2010, reports surfaced in the British press that the Obama administration favored the release of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber. This was an eye-opener, because when Scotland released Megrahi from prison and sent him home to Libya in August 2009, the Obama administration publicly protested the decision. Obama reaffirmed his position on Megrahi's release when British prime minister David Cameron came to visit in July 2010. The president's public sentiments seemed entirely appropriate: Megrahi, after all, had been convicted in connection with the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am Jet [sic] over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 people, most of them American.
But a few days after Cameron departed, the British press obtained a letter that the Obama administration had sent a year earlier to the Scottish government. The letter seems to show that Obama's public outrage was contrived. In fact, the Obama administration took the position that releasing Megrahi on “compassionate grounds” was acceptable as long as he was kept in Scotland. This option, Obama said, would be “far preferable” to sending him back to Libya. Scottish government officials interpreted the letter to mean that U.S. objections to Megrahi's release were “half-hearted.” So they let Megrahi go back to his own country, where he lives today as a free man.
REALITY: Obama opposed Lockerbie bomber's release
D'Souza distorted the contents of the State Department letter, which actually indicated to the Scottish Ministry of Justice that the “United States is not prepared to support Megrahi's release on compassionate release or bail.” The letter further communicated that if the Scottish decided to release Megrahi, the U.S. position was that they keep him in Scotland and not repatriate him to Libya: “If Scottish authorities come to the conclusion that Megrahi must be released from Scottish custody, conditional release on compassionate grounds would be a far preferable alternative to prisoner transfer, which we strongly oppose.”
6. CLAIM: The Obama administration “refuses to make the [Lockerbie] letter public”
D'Souza also claimed that the Obama administration has not released the State Department letter regarding Megrahi, “probably because of its incriminating content.” From page 44:
While the American press has downplayed the story, the families of the Lockerbie victims now know about the Obama letter and want to see it. Yet the Obama administration refuses to make the letter public, probably because of its incriminating content. Now why would a U.S. president take such a benign view of a terrorist striking out against America? I cannot think of any possible explanation except for one. On the anti-colonial explanation, it is because Obama views Megrahi as a resister who was striking out against U.S. imperialism. That is certainly how Megrahi portrayed himself at his trial.
REALITY: The administration posted the letter online months ago
The State Department made public the letter it sent to the Scottish government regarding Megrahi's release -- called the Lebaron Letter -- in a July 26 press release.
7. CLAIM: Obama “time and again” called BP “British Petroleum”
In discussing Obama's response to the Gulf oil spill, D'Souza claimed that in his May 14 remarks, Obama repeatedly referred to BP as “British Petroleum,” leading D'Souza to conclude that Obama was expressing his alleged “anti-colonialism” by reminding “Americans of what BP used to stand for.” From page 47 (emphasis added):
Finally, addressing the TV cameras on May 14, 2010, Obama managed to work up some enthusiasm. Time and again he condemned “British Petroleum” -- an interesting term since the company long ago changed its name to BP. Given our anti-colonial theory, it's no surprise that Obama wanted to remind Americans of what BP used to stand for. He was equally outspoken in whacking the other oil companies for their “ridiculous spectacle” of “pointing fingers of blame.”
REALITY: Not once did Obama say “British Petroleum”
As Media Matters noted, Obama didn't once use the term “British Petroleum” in his May 14 remarks, instead referring to the company as “BP.” Later the same day, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin appeared on Fox News and similarly condemned BP for “playing the blame game,” only Palin -- unlike Obama -- actually did refer to the company as “British Petroleum.”
8. CLAIM: Obama's comments on energy use were an attack on “neocolonial giant” America
Continuing with Obama's response to the Gulf oil spill, D'Souza claimed that when Obama said in his June 15 speech that Americans “consume more than 20 percent of the world's oil, but have less than 2 percent of the world's resources” he was attacking America as a “neocolonial giant” that is “eating up more than its share of the world's resources.” From this one comment, D'Souza concluded that the “the heart of Obama's energy and environmental agenda” is “redressing the inequitable system where the neocolonial West -- and neocolonial companies like BP -- dominates the use of global energy resources.” From pages 47-48:
Addressing the nation on the spill on June 15, 2010, Obama stressed that Americans “consume more than 20 percent of the world's oil, but have less than 2 percent of the world's resources.” Obama went on to say that “for decades we've talked and talked about the need to end America's century-long addition to fossil fuels.” Unfortunately, “time and again the path forward has been blocked” by, among others, “oil industry lobbyists.” Now, on the face of it, this is a perfectly reasonable statement from a liberal politician who thinks this is what the America public wants to hear. But ask yourself, what does any of this have to do with the oil spill? Would the oil spill have been less of a problem if America consumed a mere 10 percent of the world's resources? Of course not. The point is that for Obama the energy and environmental issues reduce to a simple proposition: America is a neocolonial giant eating up more than its share of the world's resources, and in doing so America is exploiting the scarce fuel of the globe; consequently, this gluttonous consumption must be stopped. This is the heart of Obama's energy and environmental agenda: not cleaning up the Gulf or saving the environment in general, but redressing the inequitable system where the neocolonial West -- an neocolonial companies like BP -- dominates the use of global energy resources.
On page 157, D'Souza notes that Obama, in a November 2008 interview on CBS' 60 Minutes, said America has an “addiction” to oil. D'Souza claims this was another attack on “neocolonial” America:
For Obama, the high oil prices aren't the problem; America's level of consumption is the problem. America's energy “addiction” is presumed to be a new form of neocolonial exploitation: the planet has limited resources, and the greedy West is taking a disproportionate share.
REALITY: Bush made similar comments
In an April 20, 2005, speech to the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, then-president George W. Bush also observed the growing disparity between America's energy demand and energy production in calling for an end to dependence on foreign oil (emphasis added):
BUSH: But we must act now to address the fundamental problem. Our supply of energy is not growing fast enough to meet the demands of our growing economy.
Over the past decade, America's energy consumption has increased by more than 12 percent, yet our domestic production has increased by less than one-half of 1 percent. That means that our nation is more and more reliant on foreign sources of energy. At the same time, the global demand for energy is growing faster than the global supply, which has contributed to a steep rise in the price of crude oil, which is the feed stock for gasoline. Because our foreign energy dependence is growing, our ability to take actions at home that will lower prices for American families is diminishing. Our dependence on foreign energy is like a foreign tax on the American Dream -- the tax our citizens pay every day in higher gas prices, higher cost to heat and cool their homes -- a tax on jobs. Worst of all, it's a tax increasing every year.
In his 2006 State of the Union address, Bush famously declared that the United States is “addicted to oil”:
BUSH: Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. And here we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world.
The best way to break this addiction is through technology. Since 2001, we have spent nearly $10 billion to develop cleaner, cheaper and more reliable alternative energy sources. And we are on the threshold of incredible advances.
9. CLAIM: Elena Kagan “kick[ed] military recruiters off campus”
On page 49, D'Souza writes that “Obama's judicial nominations of Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court are also understandable in the context of the anti-colonial theory.” With regard to Kagan, D'Souza writes on page 50:
The most controversial facet of Elena Kagan's career has been her decision as dean of the Harvard Law School to kick military recruiters off campus. During her hearings, Kagan insisted that her decision still permitted the military to recruit at Harvard, which was true, though they were limited in a way that other recruiters weren't. When Kagan, as dean, backed down from her original decision, it was done in order to avoid jeopardizing Harvard's eligibility for federal funds. But it would not be surprising if Kagan's hostility to military recruitment caught the approving attention of President Obama.
REALITY: Military recruiters were never kicked off campus, as D'Souza acknowledges
As Media Matters extensively documented, Harvard Law students had access to military recruiters throughout Kagan's tenure as dean. Indeed, D'Souza immediately countermands his own attack by writing: “During her hearings, Kagan insisted that her decision still permitted the military to recruit at Harvard, which was true, though they were limited in a way that other recruiters weren't.” D'Souza made no attempt to resolve the discrepancy between his claim that Kagan kicked recruiters off campus, and his acknowledgement that Kagan was right in saying students still had access to recruiters.
10. CLAIM: Obama's memoir doesn't mention his father's alcoholism
D'Souza writes on pages 65-66 that Obama, in Dreams from My Father, never mentioned his father's alcoholism:
He was a smoker, as his son after him would be. At Harvard, he was also a heavy drinker. There he earned the nickname “Double Double” because he like to order a double Scotch and tell the waiter, as soon as it was delivered, “Another double.” Eventually Obama Sr. developed liver disease due to his excessive drinking. To make things worse, he was a reckless driver who often drove under the influence, getting into several accidents in which he killed at least one other person before finally getting into a fatal wreck himself. Obama acknowledges that his father had liver trouble but says nothing about his alcoholism; he also neglects to say that his father was driving drunk when he got into the accident that killed him.
REALITY: Obama referenced his father's drinking several times, as D'Souza later acknowledges
Dreams from My Father is peppered with references to Obama's father's problems with alcohol. From page 215 of Dreams, in which Obama quotes his half-sister Auma (emphasis added):
“Finally, he had to accept a small job with the Water Department. Even this was possible only because one of his friends pitied him. The job kept food on the table, but it was a big fall for him. The Old Man began to drink heavily, and many of the people he knew stopped coming to visit because now it was dangerous to be seen with him. They told him that maybe if he apologized, changed his attitude, he would be all right. But he refused and continued to say whatever was on his mind.”
From pages 216-217 of Dreams, still quoting Auma (emphasis added):
“She left when I was twelve or thirteen, after the Old Man had had a serious car accident. He had been drinking, I think, and the driver of the other car, a white farmer, was killed.”
“It was worse between him and Roy. They would have terrific fights. Finally Roy just left. He just stopped coming home and started living with different people. So I was left alone with the Old Man. Sometimes I would stay up half the night, waiting to hear him come through the door, worrying that something terrible had happened. Then he would stagger in drunk and come into my room and wake me because he wanted company or something to eat.”
From page 220 of Dreams (emphasis added):
It was into my father's image, the black man, son of Africa, that I'd packed all the attributes I sought in myself, the attributes of Martin and Malcolm, DuBois and Mandela. And if later I saw that the black men I knew -- Frank or Ray or Will or Rafiq -- fell short of such lofty standards; if I had learned to respect these men for the struggles they went through, recognizing them as my own -- my father's voice had nevertheless remained untainted, inspiring, rebuking, granting or withholding approval. You do not work hard enough, Barry. You must help in your people's struggle. Wake up, black man!
Now, as I sat in the glow of a single light bulb, rocking slightly on a hard-backed chair, that image had suddenly vanished. Replaced by ... what? A bitter drunk? An abusive husband? A defeated, lonely bureaucrat? To think that all my life I had been wrestling with a ghost!
Indeed, D'Souza goes on to write about and quote from passages of Obama's memoir that mention Obama's father's drinking. From page 111 of The Roots of Obama's Rage (emphasis added):
Obama's half-sister Auma visited him in New York while he attended Columbia. She told him for the first time about how humiliated and degraded their father had become, dropping from one low post to another even lower. Auma vividly described how Barack Sr. would stagger into her room drunk at night and rage about how he had been betrayed by the world.
From page 120 of The Roots of Obama's Rage, writing about Dreams (emphasis added):
Mark has also changed his last name from Obama to Ndesandjo, relinquishing his own dad's name and talking the name of the man who married his mother after she divorced Barack Sr. Surprised by Mark's indifference, not only to Kenya but also to his own father, Obama persists: “Don't you ever feel like you might be losing something?” Mark replies, “You think that somehow I'm cut off from my roots, that sort of thing. Well, you're right. At a certain point, I made a decision not to think about who my real father was. He was dead to me even when he was still alive. I knew he was a drunk and showed no concern for his wife or children. That was enough.”
11. CLAIM: Obama, like his father, would support 100 percent tax rates for the wealthy
On pages 72-73, D'Souza claims that it is “hard to believe that” Obama “is not closely familiar” with a paper his father wrote in 1965 for East Africa Journal titled “Problems Facing Our Socialism,” in which Obama Sr. wrote: “Theoretically, there is nothing that can stop the government from taxing 100 percent of income so long as the people get benefits from the government commensurate with their income which is tasked.” D'Souza continues:
Living today in Obama's America, we can recognize several themes that the son seems to have derived from his father. First there is the idea that the ordinary African is deprived because the rich people at the top -- the people who are not like us -- control most of the wealth and use it to exploit society. A second theme is that the country belongs to everyone, not just to the upper crust; therefore, the state must intervene to take from the undeserving haves in order to give to the deserving have-nots. There is no level of taxation -- not even 100 percent -- that is unacceptable as long as it serves the purpose of taming the plutocrats and yields revenues that are justified in terms of the benefit to society.
REALITY: Obama's tax proposals for the wealthy don't even approach 100 percent
D'Souza's completely unsubstantiated claim that Obama would find 100 percent tax rates for the wealthy acceptable ignores Obama's actual tax proposals for wealthy Americans. On September 8, Obama called for allowing the Bush-era tax cuts for individuals making more than $200,000 (and household making more than $250,000) expire at the end of 2010. Doing so would result in the top two marginal income tax rates returning to their Clinton-era levels of 36 and 39.6 percent.
12. CLAIM: Returned bust of Churchill was “ultimate insult to the English”
D'Souza, at several points throughout the book, claims that Obama's alleged “anti-colonialism” carries with it a hatred of the British in general and Winston Churchill in particular, and that this impelled him to return to the British a bust of Churchill that had occupied the Oval Office during the Bush administration.
From pages 41-42:
But the ultimate insult to the English was when Obama, right upon assuming the presidency, came upon a bust of Winston Churchill in the Oval Office and promptly decided to return it. Churchill, of course, is routinely quoted by American presidents, and the bust had been loaned to America from the British government's art collection. In a way it symbolize America's special relationship with Britain. Somewhat shocked by Obama's decision to remove the bust from the White House, British officials suggested that perhaps Obama could display it elsewhere. Obama declined. Chagrined, the British took it back, and the bust now sits in the residence of the British ambassador in Washington.
Bizzare? It is if you think of Obama as just another socialist (why would a socialist have such a violent reaction to a Churchill statute?) or remember Churchill solely as the fellow who guided the British to victory in World War II. But with his anti-colonial background, Obama probably remembers Churchill as an imperialist who soldiered for the empire in India and Africa. [...] In the 1950s, Churchill was the prime minister during Britain's fight against the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya, the native country of Obama's father. So when we apply the anti-colonial hypothesis, we find that the inexplicable Churchill incident suddenly makes perfect sense.
From page 91:
Obama makes no reference to any of [Frank Marshall] Davis' writings and merely calls him “a poet named Frank.” But given Davis's worldviews, it is easy to see his appeal to young Obama. And given Davis's antipathy for Churchill, a man whose colonial history Davis knew well, we can see where Obama learned this other side of the scourge of the Nazis. Perhaps we have a source here for why Obama removed that Churchill bust from the White House.
And again on page 117:
India had become independent in 1947, and when the country's first prime minister Nehru heard about the British atrocities in Kenya, he complained to the former British governor general in India, Lord Mountbatten. Nehru's complaint made its way up to the prime minister, Winston Churchill, but Churchill had no interest in opening up an investigation into British abuses in Kenya, and so the book was officially closed for the moment. At this point we can better understand Obama's determination to get that Churchill bust out of the White House.
REALITY: Churchill bust was scheduled to return before Obama took office
D'Souza's theory is undermined by several easily verified facts. First, as Media Matters has noted, the U.K. Telegraph reported when the statue was returned that the bust had been “uniquely lent to a foreign head of state, President George W Bush,” and was not given in perpetuity to the U.S. government. Additionally, the White House has stated the bust had been scheduled for return to Great Britain prior to Obama's presidency.
Moreover, D'Souza's theory fails to account for the fact that Obama's Oval Office still has many items gifted from the British, such as the wooden penholder given to him by former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, crafted from timbers from the HMS Gannet. The Gannet was the sister ship to the HMS Resolute, timbers from which were used to make the presidential desk.
13. CLAIM: Networks and newspapers “pretended not to notice” Wright's “incendiary comments”
D'Souza writes on pages 145-146 that when the story regarding Rev. Jeremiah Wright's inflammatory sermons broke, “the networks and major newspapers pretended not to notice.” Singling out the New York Times, D'Souza claims that the paper “refused to report” on Wright's comments “for more then two months”:
Obama's lactification technique also came to his rescue during the Jeremiah Wright controversy. This was a very dangerous scandal for Obama. I threatened to expose him as a radical masquerading as a mainstream centrist, and anti-colonial revolutionary posing as an “aw shucks” all-American. Let's see how Obama got out of that one. Remarkably, no one in the mainstream media had paid much attention to Wright; in fact, hardly anyone bothered to investigate Obama for anything. [...] It was the conservative media -- notably Sean Hannity of Fox News Channel -- that first began to report on Wright. Even when the Wright story broke, the networks and major newspapers pretended not to notice. The New York Times refused to report Wright's incendiary comments for more than two months, and then bowdlerized them to make them sound tame. Here is how the Times portrayed Wright's remarks about 9/11: “Mr. Wright said the attacks were a consequence of violent American policies.” That's it. Nothing about God damn America or chickens coming home to roost!
REALITY: ABC broke the Wright sermons story, which was covered extensively by networks and newspapers
Wright's controversial sermons were first reported on ABC -- one of the networks that D'Souza claims “pretended not to notice” the story -- by investigative correspondent Brian Ross on the March 13, 2008, edition of Good Morning America. The New York Times reported on Wright's sermons on March 15 -- two days later, not “two months,” as D'Souza claimed -- and that article quoted Wright's “chickens coming home to roost” comment. Wright's comments were also the focus of a front-page March 15 Washington Post article, and a March 15 Los Angeles Times article. A Nexis search of the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and USA Today for “Obama and (Jeremiah w/2 Wright)” for the two weeks following the breaking of the Wright story returned 131 hits.
Similarly, NBC's Nightly News reported at length on Wright on March 15, and the CBS Evening News covered the story on March 14. A Nexis search of the three major broadcast networks for the same terms over the same time period turned up 90 hits.
14. CLAIM: Obama supported Petrobras' Brazilian oil drilling to “reduce America's standard of living”
On pages 151-152, D'Souza writes that Obama's father “would have attempted to wring the colonialism out of American society by curbing the wealth of the overclass and by bringing corporate America under state control.” This, D'Souza alleges, “squares with the agenda” of President Obama regarding offshore oil drilling:
I'd like to begin with a story from the August 18, 2009, issue of the Wall Street Journal. The headline reads, “Obama Underwrites Offshore Drilling.” Did you read that correctly? You did. The Obama administration supports offshore drilling. But it's drilling off the shore of Brazil. With Obama's backing, the U.S. Export-Import bank offered two million dollars in loans and guarantees to Brazil's state-owned oil company Petrobras to finance exploration in the Santos Basin near Rio de Janeiro. ... Note that Obama is not funding Brazilian exploration so that the oil ends up in the United States; he is funding Brazilian exploration for the oil to stay in Brazil.
Now consider the fact that the Obama administration has been working overtime to block offshore drilling in the United States. First Obama issued a decree outlawing all drilling below a depth of 500 feet -- in other words, the majority of all new offshore drilling in America. ... The effect of Obama's offshore drilling ban is not only to put thousands of Americans out of work, but also to force drilling companies to move their assets to other parts of the world. The entire American energy infrastructure has been harmed by Obama's drilling moratorium.
I admit it is a little frightening to contemplate the prospect of a U.S. president assiduously working to reduce America's standard of living. But as we'll see, it's part of a consistent pattern that we can now begin to chart. Obama's Petrobras decision is part of his broader energy and environmental policy.
REALITY: Obama was not involved in Petrobras loan
As Media Matters has noted, D'Souza's entire argument is based on a false assumption -- that President Obama specifically directed the loan to Petrobras to begin drilling offshore. In reality, at the time the Export-Import Bank of the United States approved the “preliminary commitment” to finance Petrobras' drilling operation, the bank's board consisted of three Republicans and two Democrats, all of whom were appointed by former President Bush. As FactCheck.org put it, Obama “had nothing to do with the loan.”
Indeed, D'Souza made this same allegation in a falsehood-ridden Forbes article that the magazine fact-checked after publication, and Kevin Varney, senior vice president for the Export-Import bank, called D'Souza's claim “preposterous, it's false and it's wrong.”
15. CLAIM: Obama told Cuba, Venezuela they are “on an equal plane with the United States”
On page 180, D'Souza expands on his claim -- borrowed from others in the conservative media -- that Obama has been on a worldwide “apology tour” ever since becoming president:
Next Obama carried his self-abasement routine from the colonizers to the colonized, from Europe to the more hostile regions of the world. At a meeting of South American nations on April 17, 2009, Obama told the leaders of Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Haiti, “I pledge to you that we seek an equal partnership. There is no senior partner and no junior partner. The United States will be willing to acknowledge past errors where those errors have been made.” How nice for this motley Third World crew to discover that henceforth they would be operating on an equal plane with the United States.
REALITY: Obama told American nations that partnership with the U.S. required acceptable behavior
First, Obama spoke at the 2009 Summit of the Americas, not “a meeting of South American nations.” Second, Cuba was not invited to the summit. And third, Obama specifically said that “equal partnership” with the United States required countries that “blame the United States for every problem that arises in the hemisphere” -- i.e. Venezuela -- to change their behavior:
OBAMA: I think it's important to recognize, given historic suspicions, that the United States' policy should not be interference in other countries, but that also means that we can't blame the United States for every problem that arises in the hemisphere. That's part of the bargain. (Applause.) That's part of the change that has to take place. That's the old way, and we need a new way.
The United States will be willing to acknowledge past errors where those errors have been made. We will be partners in helping to alleviate poverty. But the American people have to get some positive reinforcement if they are to be engaged in the efforts to lift other countries out of the poverty that they're experiencing.