2016: Obama's America

Dinesh D'Souza makes a powerful but ultimately unpersuasive case against the president.

Imagine how much chatter you'd be hearing about Dinesh D'Souza and John Sullivan's documentary 2016 if it were about George W. Bush's America rather than Barack Obama's. 

I'm not just talking about Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, which was lauded as "potent and infuriating" by Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman and praised for its large "scope" and skillful "means" by the New Yorker's David Denby. Countless Bush's Brains and Outfoxeds and Bush Family Fortunes got wide distribution and rave reviews during the eight corpse-strewn and impoverishing years of the George W. Bush's administration.

2016 is made at a higher level of production than any of those films. It treats its subject with much greater fairness than any of those films. It is arguably a bigger box office draw than any of them: Entertainment Weekly reports that 2016: Obama's America is earning $6,326.50 per screen in limited release, but that's only half the story. You can do better than that per screen and still not get a wide release. 2016, however, enjoys an excellent distribution and PR network and has opened in major media markets (The New York Times' review focused on the audience reaction at a screening.) Today 2016: Obama's America expands to 1,075 theaters around the country

The film is compelling because it aims not to entertain but to educate. What they lack in the way of Michael Moore's wit D'Souza and Sullivan (who co-wrote and co-directed) make up for through confidence in their own story. 

D'Souza and Sullivan's crew travels the world to trace President Obama's journey through youth. D'Souza, the author of The Roots of Obama's Rage (on which this film is based) and a Dartmouth-educated public intellectual with family roots in India, twines his own life path around Obama's. Two actors play younger versions of D'Souza. 

The film draws with great skill on Obama's autobiography Dreams From My Father, and it should be considered a vital supplement to that book, enriching Obama's childhood observations of Lolo Soetoro (Obama's Indonesian stepfather) and Frank Marshall Davis (a Hawaii-based pro-Soviet journalist friend of Obama's maternal grandfather). 

In addition to complicating Obama's narrative (some captured footage of Obama going off-teleprompter while trying to make a tricky point about one of his bloated budgets is particularly rich), D'Souza aims to tell a counternarrative. What D'Souza calls his "explanatory framework" holds that the president is still possessed by his late father's anti-colonial radicalism and to a lesser extent by his grandfather's mid-century-vintage leftism. This was the attention-getting premise behind D'Souza's book, and he doesn't lack for evidence. Dreams From My Father treats Obama's college-age fascination with Frantz Fanon and his friendships with campus Marxists. Obama's extensive relationships with serial terror bomber Bill Ayers and America-damning holy man Jeremiah Wright are well known (though the film persuasively argues that the media managed to turn these into issues of style rather than content). 

"How does a guy who possesses a third-world anti-American view, an ideology as remote and unrecognizable to most Americans as the capital of Kenya or Indonesia, manage to get himself elected?" D'Souza asks. "How does he sell this in Peoria?" 

Again, Obama provides the answer: His book nicely explains how the ambitious young community activist made the most of garden-variety Americans' instinct to be helpful to a non-threatening outsider. 

Of course, every president is a threat. D'Souza's argument is that Obama is a uniquely dangerous and insidious one. He may be right about that, but when he tries to make the case the film departs from my reality. If you believe the biggest problems with Obama are that he has not invaded Iran, attacked the Alawite regime in Syria and sufficiently supported the Queen's dominion over the Falkland Islands, this is the movie for you. 

Although 2016 does treat Obama's devastating fiscal legacy, D'Souza and Sullivan's real passion is for crimes like Obama's removal of a bust of Winston Churchill from the oval office. D'Souza fondly recalls his own young adulthood at the knee of President Reagan, and that archetype – the president as steward of a strong dollar and bulwark against an expansive collectivist empire – colors his assessment of the sitting president. 

But this construction just doesn't fit into the hole Obama has dug. D'Souza floats the term "Debt as a weapon of mass destruction," but even the talking head he chooses to illustrate this point, former Comptroller General David Walker (1998-2008), carefully notes that the near-tripling of the national debt (from $5.6 trillion debt accumulated from George Washington through Bill Clinton to more than $15 trillion today) took place "under George Walker Bush 43 and President Barack Obama." 

The theme of Obama's radical anti-Americanism is even less useful in explaining what has been (so far) his most poisonous legacy: the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2009 (a.k.a. Obamacare), which indentures the people not to any politburo or warlord but to insurance companies. The act has now been deemed constitutional by the Supreme Court. Mitt Romney, Obama's opponent in the coming election, pioneered the individual mandate that forms the core of Obamacare while he was governor of Massachusetts. Obamacare (treated very briefly in the film) in fact argues against D'Souza's biographical thesis: As a candidate Obama opposed the individual mandate, and nothing from Ayers or Barack Obama, Sr. suggests any source for this cockamamie scheme. The awfulness of Obamacare is not that it is radical but that it is precisely in the middle of the contemporary mainstream. 

But the job of a film is not to have a consistently logical argument. It is to make that argument persuasively, and 2016 does so with emotional and narrative power. 

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • John||

    I don't thing you can give a coherent explanation for Obama's beliefs because I don't think Obama knows what he believes. There is certainly a lot of truth to the idea that mid century anti-colonialism and leftism shaped Obama. But there is a whole other factor going on here, Chicago machine politics. Most of what Obama has done can be explained by crude political calculations of paying off supporters and sticking it to everyone else. And that is pure Chicago. Kenya and Marxism have nothing to do with it.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: John,

    I don't thing you can give a coherent explanation for Obama's beliefs because I don't think Obama knows what he believes.


    His belief system is deeply embedded with pedestrian cliches and superficial philosophies, just as it is for many typical university students. There isn't a hint of original thought in his musings, which probably explains why he hasn't written much, being very likely that his books were all written by ghostwriters.

    The fact is that Obama carries himself with the same studentlike immaturity, which should not be surprising as he received pretty much everything in life in a silver platter, no precious efforts consumed. His worldview is banal, inconsistent, full of superficiality. And yet people consider him this portent of intellectual prowess, which tells me that there's also a hint of the charlatan in him, the suave confidence man that plays to the gullibility of liberals, especially those that want so much not to appear racist.

  • John||

    That about sums it up Mexican.

  • OldMexican||

    It's Mister Old Mexican to you, thank you very much!

  • wareagle||

    his belief system goes well beyond the usual student union stuff and it is enhanced by his knowledge that supporters and the media will give him a pass because to do otherwise would be admission of failure on their part.

    He doesn't just play to liberal gullibility, he uses it in his favor. No Dem has ever openly exhibited such open hostility for the American system; most realized they needed a certain amount of economic activity to fund their grandiosity. He is okay with toppling the system. What in the world did folks think "fundamentally transform America" meant?

  • Paul.||

    See, these is where I don't see it.

    He's not toppling the system, he's become the insidiest of the insiders, a pure unadulterated technocrat.

    System toppling is precisely what his most ardent supporters thought they were getting.

    Instead, all they got was a new coat of paint on Gitmo and continued Bush foreign policy.

  • Suki||

    No Dem has ever openly exhibited such open hostility for the American system

    FDR did.

  • theslapisback||

    It is also important to mention how he has spent his entire adult life exploiting the plight of lower classes in the inner cities to advance his political career. There has never been a president with such a well documented track record of intentionally creating unrest, anger, division and jealousy among the classes only to use them for their votes and do nothing for them.
    Not only are things worse for lower class people in the inner cities nationwide, but the will continue to worsen and Obama has no intention on improving them because it would hurt him politically to do so

  • Sam Grove||

    He's an accomplished politician, bull shit artist supreme, but otherwise, fundamentally clueless.

  • wareagle||

    you are wrong. He knows exactly what the outcomes of policy initiatives will be. He just counts on the sheeple to not want to believe that.

    Everything he wants to do has been proven to fail economically, yet he insists on going in that direction. Are you not willing to ask why that is.

  • T o n y||

    For an independent-minded anarchist philosopher who's definitely not a partisan you sure do squeeze in a lot of mindless Michelle Malkin bullshit.

  • tarran||

    I need a ruling here.

    Was Tony's post an example of the tu quoque fallacy or merely a weird ad hominem one?

  • T o n y||

    His books were ghost written, he only got votes out of white racial oversensitivity, blah blah blah blah blah.

    It undermines any point OM might have had, which appears to be that he, a guy with a totally ridiculous, unworkable, ultradogmatic worldview, is so much more clever than the president of the US.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Tony,

    His books were ghost written,


    They were ghostwritten. Ayers himself has said many times that he wrote Dreams From My Father.

    [...] he only got votes out of white racial oversensitivity,


    I didn't mention anything about votes. You're making shit up.

    I only pointed out that he plays to gullible liberals' oversensitivity, not that he received votes because of it. There were people genuinely disgusted with Bush Fis, wanted change and voted for him. But the initial enthusiasm from liberals for Obama, despite not having a single and real intellectual (or political) accomplishment, speaks more about their own hangups than about Obama's capability.

    It undermines any point OM might have had, which appears to be that he, a guy with a totally ridiculous, unworkable, ultradogmatic worldview, is so much more clever than the president of the US.


    My child is more clever than the president. He knows that you cannot get something for nothing. The president doesn't.

  • T o n y||

    Ayers himself has said many times that he wrote Dreams From My Father.

    You are such an idiot.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Tony,

    You are such an idiot.


    And... what? Does that mean I am wrong, that he didn't say it? Or does it mean that you simply don't like that I pointed out that fact?

  • T o n y||

    He made a JOKE about it... that is, he was making fun of idiots like you who buy into conspiracy theories.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Tony,

    He made a JOKE about it...


    Really? That's quite a joke, Tony. Was Christopher Andersen joking as well when he spends 6 pages of his Barack and Michelle: Portrait of an American Marriage, talking about Ayer's role in making Dreams From My Father?

    The bromide that Ayers was joking came from David Weigel, despite the fact that before Ayers' revelation, nobody was really questioning the authorship of the book. You just want to believe Ayers is some sort of soothsaying Eulenspiegel.

  • ThatSkepticGuy||

    "He made a JOKE about it... that is, he was making fun of idiots like you who buy into conspiracy theories."

    Bill Ayers, sociopathic Marxist serial bomber, deriding others for buying into asinine conspiracy theories. Okay.

    Tony, you're a legitimate evolutionary breakthrough in sheer human stupidity.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    He made a JOKE about it... that is, he was making fun of idiots like you who buy into conspiracy theories.

    It doesn't take a conspiracy theory to say that Ayers most likely ghost wrote DFMF, just common sense.

    Starting with the observation that it was a pretty well written book, stylistically similar to other written by Ayers and that Obama has not written anything else in that style before or since Dreams. Making his authoring it alone incredibly unlikely.

    Then consider that Obama himself has admitted that the book is truthy bullshit with composite characters and events.

  • Anacreon||

    "you sure do squeeze in a lot of mindless Michelle Malkin"

    I wouldn't mind being squeezed in somewhere with Michelle Malkin. In fact, most of Obama's major critics on the news shows are pretty hot. His supporters tend to look like Rachel Maddow.

  • T o n y||

    There's a pretty low intellectual bar for becoming a right-wing pundit.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Tony,

    here's a pretty low intellectual bar for becoming a right-wing pundit.


    Judging from your witty retort you gave above, the bar for leftists individuals sits pretty well in the gutter.

  • DanD||

    So, you can't be attractive and intelligent. Really, Tony? Really?

  • dinkster||

    Only if you are basically insane. Isn't that the rule of three? Hot, Smart, Crazy... Hot, Sane, Dumb... Ugly, Sane, Smart... etc. etc.

  • yanquipoodle||

    Well, Compadre, I searched in vain for originality in your post. Extraordinary that you can so incisively describe someone else's belief system when your own is a mess of cliches and juvenile gullibility. Do you Teapotter types have an ounce of critical thinking in you?

  • John||

    And don't forget, Obama was totally unaffected by his association with people like Ayers and Wright. But Paul Ryan is a crazy objectivist because he once read Atlas Shrugged and really liked it.

  • Phil Perspective||

    But Paul Ryan is a crazy objectivist because he once read Atlas Shrugged and really liked it.


    He made his staff read the damn book. He's admitted in many interviews that reading the book helped shape his worldview. He quotes Francisco d’Anconia when talking about wanting to go back to the gold standard.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    Wowee. Well, if any of his VOTES in congress indicated he'd taken anything from Ayn Rand's writing, I'd be more persuaded. But they don't, so this is all so much "whatever".

    Whereas the opposite is true of El Presidente. His actions match his words, and the apparent influences on his life. Much to the harm of the nation, more's the pity.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    D'Souza's thesis that the president is still possessed by his late father's anti-colonial radicalism and to a lesser extent by his grandfather's mid-century-vintage leftism does not fully explain the extent of Obama's failures or the special awfulness of his presidency.

    That part can be put down to run-of-the-mill incompetence.

  • John||

    That and corruptions. This is how Chicago works. This is what he knows.

  • Voros McCracken||

    The interesting thing about the Chicago system is not that the people in charge are corrupt, it's that the "people in charge" are not the people in charge. Blagojevich is a prime example. When you understand that the 33rd Ward Committeeman of the City of Chicago is more powerful than the Governor of the State of Illinois (after all, if you get to pick who becomes governor that's more power than actually being governor), you begin to see how it all works. The Governor you picked (who happens to be your son-in-law) then blows the whistle on one of your shady landfill deals, and a few years later he's in prison and you're still 33rd Ward Committeeman. Funny how that works.

  • Paul.||

    I have no idea if Voros McCracken's comment is true or accurate, but I like it the best, and it feels the most truthy.

  • R C Dean||

    Take a red diaper baby, run him through the modern lefty/prog university system, plop him into the middle of the Chicago political machine, and you've pretty much got all you need to understand Barack Obama.

  • Suki||

    +100

  • Phil Perspective||

    If Obama was such a lefty, why did he appoint "Turbo Tax" Timmy and reappoint "B-52" Ben Bernanke? Why would he appoint to GOPers to two of the most important positions in Government?

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    You're implying Turbo Timmeh and The Bernank are NOT lefties?

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Again, look at what they do, not who appointed them or what they say.

    You believe The Blooming Idiot in NewYAwk is a "Republican", too? A true RINO - he's a lefty pig overlord, nevermind the label.

  • wareagle||

    That part can be put down to run-of-the-mill incompetence.

    No no no no. People keep insisting that results of the past four years are due to bad decisions or bad advice or something else that turned out wrong. NO. This is the intended outcome.

    I realize that thinking that way runs counter to anyone's natural inclination. Usually, we disagree with folks on policy; with this man, you have to look outcomes, both intended and achieved. Food stamp rolls up? Obama likes. Unemployment high? Obama has done nothing except insure it stays high. He's not stupid; he is evil.

  • Sam Grove||

    That's typical Democrat vote buying.

  • wareagle||

    no, Sam. Obama is not the typical Dem. You underestimate him at your own peril.

  • JasmineToo||

    It's all about the Cloward-Piven Strategy of Economic Recovery .....

    === Rather than placating the poor with government hand-outs, wrote Cloward and Piven, activists should work to sabotage and destroy the welfare system; the collapse of the welfare state would ignite a political and financial crisis that would rock the nationpoor people would rise in revolt; only then would "the rest of society" accept their demands...

    ... The authors noted that the number of Americans subsisting on welfare -- about 8 million, at the time -- probably represented less than half the number who were technically eligible for full benefits. They proposed a "massive drive to recruit the poor onto the welfare rolls." Cloward and Piven calculated that persuading even a fraction of potential welfare recipients to demand their entitlements would bankrupt the system. The result, they predicted, would be "a profound financial and political crisis" that would unleash "powerful forces … for major economic reform at the national level." ===

    http://www.theobamafile.com/_o.....Piven.html

  • JasmineToo||

    As a matter of record, in the 1970's, the Cloward-Piven Strategy was employed in New York City and almost succeeded:

    === According to a City Journal article by Sol Stern, welfare rolls increased from 4.3 million to 10.8 million by the mid-1970s as a result, and in New York City, where the strategy had been particularly successful, "one person was on the welfare rolls... for every two working in the city's private economy."

    According to another City Journal article titled "Compassion Gone Mad":

    The movement's impact on New York City was jolting: welfare caseloads, already climbing 12 percent a year in the early sixties, rose by 50 percent during Lindsay's first two years; spending doubled... The city had 150,000 welfare cases in 1960; a decade later it had 1.5 million.

    The vast expansion of welfare in New York City that came of the NWRO's Cloward-Piven tactics sent the city into bankruptcy in 1975. Rudy Giuliani cited Cloward and Piven by name as being responsible for "an effort at economic sabotage." He also credited Cloward-Piven with changing the cultural attitude toward welfare from that of a temporary expedient to a lifetime entitlement, an attitude which in-and-of-itself has caused perhaps the greatest damage of all. ===

    http://www.americanthinker.com.....ategy.html

  • Mike M.||

    rather than Barack O'Bama's.

    I see what you did there.

  • wareagle||

    Obama is the same guy who talked about "fundamentally transforming" the world's wealthiest nation with the largest economy and most powerful military. When you fundamentally change that, how can the result be anything but a degradation of the place?

  • T o n y||

    We also have piss-poor education, health, crime, energy use, and economic mobility metrics, among many other things. There is a lot to fix in this country.

    But we can't, and not because Obama is an idiot. At some point the fact that this is the most obstructionist and least productive Congress in the history of the country must factor in to its poor performance. Republican leaders have openly admitted their only mission is to make the country suffer for their own attempt at political gain.

    And Dinesh D'Souza is a ridiculous hack.

  • wareagle||

    No one said "Obama is an idiot." He is an ideologue, period. And you whining about Congress reveals your own penchant for partisan hackery. I didn't hear the left bitching his first two years, when takeovers of parts of the economy began.

    Crime is on the downswing; education has been devalued by your side and its fealty to unions and crackpot theories; energy use is NOT the govt's business; and, bad health is largely the result of bad individual choices that govt cannot affect.

  • T o n y||

    He's actually not an ideologue--he's a pragmatist to a fault. That's why he acquiesced to passing what used to be Republicans' idea of healthcare reform.

    If you didn't hear the "left" bitching then you weren't listening. The left didn't like his healthcare bill and left-leaning economists knew the stimulus was insufficient.

    Energy use isn't the government's business? Okay, so how about oil companies don't get to drill on anymore land or waters under federal jurisdiction?

    So we have both the most market-oriented healthcare system in the first world and the most expensive one. Hmm. Must be the case that we are just a country full of lazy bastards making poor individual choices. If we're, as a result of mass coincidence, so bad at taking care of ourselves, why do we even deserve to be the best country?

    You're probably too old to be reeducated into a factual worldview, which is sad, but suffice it to say that the media you and most of your comrades here consume is giving you a narrative that serves certain interests, and your being educated about the world is not among them.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Tony,

    He's actually not an ideologue -- he's a pragmatist to a fault. That's why he acquiesced to passing what used to be Republicans' idea of healthcare reform.


    So much their idea that virtually NO Republican (and a few Dems) did not vote for the thing.

    So we have both the most market-oriented healthcare system in the first world and the most expensive one.


    This is the type of commentary that makes me think you have been placed in a dungeon since childhood, Tony. There is NO free market of health services in the US. That's a lie.

    There is one for dental services, plastic surgery and lasik, which is why all of those have been either modestly priced or quickly going down in price as competition rises. But medical services are heavily regulated and have been since the 60's. Only clueless ideologues like YOU want to think otherwise.

  • Incredulous||

    Obama's not a pragmatist. He's a great bullshitter and a complete fucking idiot.

    "So we have both the most market-oriented healthcare system in the first world and the most expensive one."

    Seriously? Pull your head out of your f'ing ass. Go to a hospital and try to get prices for anything. You can't. I'm a physician and I can't get an f'ing price for anything. Try to buy a cheap catastrophic care health insurance policy - you can't because the f'ing government makes it impossible. Market-oriented? F'ing bullshit. It's not a market. The US health care system is a government dominated and distorted f'ing mess.

  • #||

    Yeah that Tony line was a gem. Not only is healthcare one of the most government controlled and distorted industries there is, you could look at all the Reason articles in the past about Singapore as an example, a system with price signals and savings. The current healthcare mess is the result of 70 years of progressive healthcare policy piggybacked onto each other.

  • PapayaSF||

    Not to mention regulatory capture by the AMA, the trial lawyers, and others.

  • Rufus J. Firefly||

    Heh...sounds lie f'ing Canada.

  • Mumu Bobby||

    Pragmatist must not mean what the dictionary says it means. Christie takes NJ, Brown takes Kennedy's seat and McDonnell wins a purple state by a country mile. And Pragmatist Obama still rams thru his legislation. He sinks his entire 1st term on one piece of legislation. Pragmitist my ass.

  • Rufus J. Firefly||

    Obama plays off like he's pragmatic but he's liberal. Period. Only clowns and unicorns would assert this ideologue is pragmatic.

  • PapayaSF||

    By "pragmatic" I think he means "radical in intent but willing to be liberal as a Fabian socialist strategy."

  • FAILtastic||

    "Energy use isn't the government's business? Okay, so how about oil companies don't get to drill on anymore land or waters under federal jurisdiction?"

    I nearly gave myself a concussion by way of a massive facepalm when I read this sentence. The logic is so circular that you could literally rearrange the words in any order and it would read the same way. Amazing.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Tony,

    We also have piss-poor education,


    That's government-managed Amerikan Pulbic Skool Edukashion for you, thank you very much.

    health,


    Why? Are you sick? I'm not. I've never been better.

    crime,


    Almost all concentrated in Dem enclaves, by the way.

    energy use,


    What are you talking about? We have plenty of energy use. Bad thing if we didn't - then we would be a poor country, like Chad (the country, not the idiot.)

    and economic mobility metrics,


    You mean like these?

  • Mike M.||

    like Chad (the country, not the idiot.)

    LOL, that is awesome.

  • DanD||

    Beautiful takedown, Mr. Old Mexican.

  • JD the elder||

    We also have piss-poor education, health, crime, energy use, and economic mobility metrics

    piss-poor education education: No, we don't. In 2012, the percentage of Americans with a bachelor's degree hit an all-time high. The UN's "education index" rates the US higher than any Western European country. Our public expenditure on education, as a percent of GDP, is about the same as that of France or Finland and higher than Italy or Germany's.

    health: No, we don't. The under-5 mortality rate is at its lowest point in 50 years. The maternal mortality rate is at its lowest in 30 years. Life expectancy is at an all-time high.

    crime: Not really. Violent crime rates are way lower than they were 20 years ago, and about on par with where they were 50 years ago.

    energy use: This is a weird one, because I have no idea what constitutes "piss-poor energy use". Do you mean too low or too high or what?

    economic mobility metrics: Well, we do have a slightly higher Gini index than most other First World countries. As of 2000, the US was about 41, whereas Italy was about 36 and Germany about 28. Our GDP per capita is persistently higher than most other countries', though, and the UN rates the US's Human Development Index equal to Germany and higher than Sweden, Denmark, France, Italy, or the UK.

    I guess we can generously grant Tony a score of about one out of four on these claims. That sounds about par for Tony.

  • lightning||

    Just because America has more people with bachelor's degrees does not therefore mean that we have the most educated or trained workforce/public. Simply means we give out more paper than other countries do. What does matter is how our students compare with other countries in actual knowledge, and that my friend has not been good for a really long time.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    The problem isn't smart, well-educated people... it's smart, well-educated people who think it's their job to tell others how they should live their lives.

    Examples:

    Mayor Bloomberg
    Missus Obama
    Tony

  • Paul.||

    How liberals can take people like Michele Obama seriously after that whole apology incident on Oprah is beyond me.

  • Paul.||

    We also have piss-poor education, health, crime, energy use, and economic mobility metrics, among many other things. There is a lot to fix in this country.

    Piss-poor education. Check.

    Health. Nope.

    Crime. What?

    Energy Use. Compared to whom?

    Economic mobility metrics. Correct. Regulation and taxation make that harder and harder.

  • ThatSkepticGuy||

    "At some point the fact that this is the most obstructionist and least productive Congress in the history of the country must factor in to its poor performance. "

    Oh, boy, here we go. Yup, just de;liberately ignore the fact that Team Blue had two years of unquestionable Nomenklatura with which they failed to enact any sort of positive change or reform.

    Nope, the REAL problem with this country is that we have a broken system of democracy which allows people to do evil and crazy things like NOT vote Democrat 100% of the time.

    "Republican leaders have openly admitted their only mission is to make the country suffer for their own attempt at political gain."

    Sounds like the last four years of the current administration to me.
    And to think, just minutes before you were lashing out at people capable of backing up their claims that Ayers ghostwrote for Obama as being crazy conspiracy nutjobs.

  • Mike M.||

    We also have piss-poor education

    Our education system was pretty damn good before scumbags like you hijacked it. It's actually still pretty good in most of the country, but admittedly not in the urban ghettos and the poorest sections of Appalachia.

    health

    Ditto.

    crime

    Ditto.

    energy use

    We do use an enormous amount of energy in this country, because we have the most enormous economy in the world.

    economic mobility metrics

    The United States is one of the most economically mobile countries on the planet. There's far more economic mobility here than there is in any of the commie nations of western Europe you love so much, you stupid shithead.

  • T o n y||

    You've convinced me. It's all liberals' fault. They've had so much dominance in government and politics recently, after all.

  • ||

    They've had so much dominance in government and politics recently, after all.

    Sooo...

    The dems did not control the house and senate from 2007 through 2010...they did not control the white house from 2009 until now?

    They do not control the senate?

  • T o n y||

    And which liberal policies did they get passed that not only caused any problems since 2007, but retroactively caused the ones I was actually referring to, which have been going on for decades?

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Tony,

    And which liberal policies did they get passed that not only caused any problems since 2007


    The stimulus
    Obamacare
    Dodd-Frank
    Cash for clunkers

    We haven't even started suffering the full effects of these. Except maybe Cash for Clunkers - it almost destroyed the used car market. It wasn't even an original idea - the Dems copied it from the Germans, who are such good at making political decisions....

    And the other part of your question is ridiculous - there's no way a law passed today can have "retroactive" effects.

    The problems that the US has suffered for decades stems directly from the monetary manipulations from the Federal Reserve, not that you would understand or care for such things anyway.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    It's obvious you just plain hate brown people, Old Mexican. So log off your computer and get your Klan garb on... it's meetin' time!

    /leftist snark

  • Paul.||


    And which liberal policies did they get passed that not only caused any problems since 2007, but retroactively caused the ones I was actually referring to, which have been going on for decades?

    I didn't realize how young you were, Tony.

    Democrats controlled the senate and Congress for over 40 years before 1994.

  • T o n y||

    You mean until the time things started going to shit?

  • Mumu Bobby||

    You're way off the reservation. Obama has been touting the 90s as the proof of his policies working......in kind of a Back to the Future sense where Obama is a black Michael J Fox and the car is the White House.

    This is why the parties put out talking points. Own goal avoidance.

  • ThatSkepticGuy||

    "And which liberal policies did they get passed that not only caused any problems since 2007, but retroactively caused the ones I was actually referring to, which have been going on for decades?"

    (...)

    "You mean until the time things started going to shit?"

    At least PRETEND to be consistent, Tony.

  • Rufus J. Firefly||

    Tony, your sarcasm is beyond misplaced. Liberal doctrines have RULED North America in the post-war era.

    It's liberalism that lay waste to the very poor standards you lament.

    Unbelievable.

  • T o n y||

    So were times better for old people, children, the poor, not to mention women and minorities, before or after those liberal reforms? It was the rejection of those reforms under Reagan and continuing through Clinton and Bush II that led to the downslide.

  • Rufus J. Firefly||

    You know, that's stuff they indoctrinated us when I was in high school. Then I began to question and think.

    But that wasn't the point: The point, if we concede things were "so bad" before those smart liberals came in and kicked ass, is one can't deny the standards have dropped - SIGNIFICANTLY.

    Pick your poison. Take the credit for making things better for all but you have to accept blame for the crap you gave us.

  • ThatSkepticGuy||

    "You've convinced me. It's all liberals' fault. They've had so much dominance in government and politics recently, after all."

    It must be nice, to stumble through life too stupid to so much as comprehend irony.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    The awfulness of Obamacare is not that it is radical but that it is precisely in the middle of the contemporary mainstream.

    I don't know what that means.

    And is John Cusack in this one, too? They destroyed the world in the first one, so I don't know what ground this sequel is going to cover.

  • ||

    the president is still possessed by his late father's anti-colonial radicalism

    I am not so sure that is a bad thing. Weren't our Founders anti-colonial radicals?

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Not in a Marxist way. They also avoided the plague of African politics - the "Big Man".

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Obama is not the typical Dem. You underestimate him at your own peril.

    I am reluctant to give him that much evil genius credibility.

    His "signature accomplishment" was farmed out to Nancy Pelosi and her compatriots. As long as he knew his name was going to be on the front page, he did not seem especially interested in what it actually contained.

  • Phil Perspective||

    Signature accomplishment? You mean a healthcare bill that was once championed by those Marxist-Socialists at the Heritage Foundation? And very similar to one that Willard signed into law when he was Governor?

  • dinkster||

    Snark, or are you just calling a fish a fish?

  • lightning||

    I have to admit that I put Obama more in the imbecile status rather than an evil genius. Without the media, his handlers, and his teleprompter everyone would be forced to acknowledge his faux pas. The simple fact is that the media has been covering his gaffes and this is why more people are not aware of his lack of intelligence and his piss-poor job as commander in chief. Heck, everything that the media claims as his accomplishment is usually foreign policy related and was actually set up by George W. before he left. The stuff he initiated on his own has been a mess. Examples: Afganistan, the Arab Spring, leaking classified intel, not taking advantage of intel from the Bin Laden assasination, Obamacare, his leadership on energy policy, his immigration policy, Gitmo, trials of 9/11, and failure to prosecute any aspect of Wall Street fraud and corruption. I could go on but I think this makes my point.

  • lightning||

    Oh yeah, Fast an Furious is another example of his "genius" that deserves a shout out. The only thing that I think makes people insist that he has any intelligence (even "evil" genius) is to give themselves an out because they made the mistake of allowing their hatred of George W., their racial insecurities, and their sheer lack of knowledge about the guy to influence them to actually vote for him.

  • Rufus J. Firefly||

    Isn't FF a "talking point?"

  • JasmineToo||

    " ... they made the mistake of allowing their hatred of George W., their racial insecurities, and their sheer lack of knowledge about the guy to influence them to actually vote for him."

    That pretty much sums up how Obama got himself elected.

  • buybuydandavis||

    As a candidate Obama opposed the individual mandate

    Let me fix that for you.

    When trying to get elected, he said he opposed the individual mandate.

  • Phil Perspective||

    And W. campaigned on being a compassionate conservative and not being an imperialist.

  • Daryl Davis||

    Does the film matter politically--does it draw independent voters into the ranks of Romney's supporters? This race is coming down to the debates, the economy, and perhaps--but hopefully not--Iran.

    We know what we already have in Obama: a divisive, timid president. Romney must step up and present himself as a distinct, preferable alternative.

    If he fails to do so, it's time for a few reforms:

    http://whatdirectdemocracymigh.....democracy/

  • Mr. FIFY||

    I'm looking forward to watching this movie, if nothing else to get the taste of having watched snippets of various Michael Moore flicks over the years.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    BTW:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.....27981.html

    Tony will lap this shit up like a Southern Baptist laps up Bible study.

  • Sanjuro Tsubaki||

    How can a film be "unpersuasive" and yet "make that (illogical) argument persuasively", and with "emotional and narrative power"? You small-l libertarians are so conflicted all of the time.

  • ThatSkepticGuy||

    Because, as the author pointed out, the main argument of the doc devolves into "Why doesn't Obama attack ___?"

    I realize you were in a big hurry to big your chest at everyone, but at least take the time to read the fucking article.

    "You small-l libertarians are so conflicted all of the time."

    Not that you have a point here, but that tends to happen when you're willing to re-examine beliefs and not held in thrall to absolutist dogma.

  • Gore S Chakra||

    Let's see, the article's subtitle is "Dinesh D'Souza makes a powerful but ultimately unpersuasive case against the president."

    But the conclusion at the end is "But the job of a film is not to have a consistently logical argument. It is to make that argument persuasively, and 2016 does so with emotional and narrative power."

    So which is it?

  • a crab pot||

    Obama's fraud is surpassed only by Neil Armstrong and the 'Apollo 11' crowd. The birth certificate, the columbia grades, the moon landing, all a conspiracy by big oil to distract. Gold standard disappears during the moon program, coincidence, hardly.

  • ||

    I am furious that this perspective was "out there" and We the people were not informed. I feel terribly let down by the media, from MSNBC to FOX News, from ABC to CNN, the mainstream media let America down. Whether you believe Mr. D'Souza's conclusion or not is not important. As it turns out, the rant from the right of, "he's not one of us" is absolutely correct. It is no wonder Mr. Obama has difficulty with believing in American exceptionalism, the years when his compass was oriented to the socio-geographic map of the world were, for the most part, the Viet Nam war years and those immediately following. America was in turmoil, we quit war operations in '73, out by '75; Nixon resigned in '74; to the world press America was at it's low point. Barack Obama must be replaced.

  • SBA||

    Re: John "Kenya and Marxism have nothing to do with it."
    Unfortunately, Obama's support and involvement with his cousin Odinga's violent election victory in Kenya, despite the Kenyan people's voting otherwise, speaks otherwise. D'Souza should have mentioned this but doesn't. Otherwise D'Souza puts all the missing pieces together for this narrative. Obama's chemistry of narcissism and insecurity fly blindly towards the Marxist formula for failure that his father, Frank Marshall Davis and others repeatedly go after.
    Occupy Unmasked puts another missing piece together. The violent election in Kenya is a model of what Occupy can accomplish, with the most useless of idiots being a green team, while the elitist Chicago mob-types immune from real sacrifices in the red and yellow teams.

  • SBA||

    Gore S Chakra:

  • SBA||

    The previous message failed to post a response to:
    "Let's see, the article's subtitle is "Dinesh D'Souza makes a powerful but ultimately unpersuasive case against the president." But the conclusion at the end is "But the job of a film is not to have a consistently logical argument. It is to make that argument persuasively, and 2016 does so with emotional and narrative power." So which is it?"
    The response is:
    The latter. The film can go either way. If you are endeared to the Davis/Ayers models, Obama is still the Chosen One. If you are endeared to the principles upon which the US was founded, Obama has used you worse than he has used Dr Alfridi of Pakistan.

  • Ardelle||

    What D'Souza calls his "explanatory framework" holds that the president is still possessed by his late father's anti-colonial radicalism and to a lesser extent by his grandfather's mid-century-vintage leftism. This was the attention-getting premise behind D'Souza's book, and he doesn't lack for evidence. Dreams From My Father treats Obama's college-age fascination with Frantz Fanon and his friendships with campus Marxists.

  • deTouqevilleFan||

    I have seen "2016: Obama's America". I read Obama's "Dreams from My Father" and "Audacity of Hope".

    A 1.5 hr film must focus on a theme to tell a story across 4 continents 40 yrs of a man's life. "2016" does so by focusing on the modern political ideology of anti-colonialism that D'Souza understands, since he was raised on it in India. He does that "powerfully" by using Obama's own voice reading passages about himself and his father from the audio book.

    In pursuing the anti-colonial theme,"2016" doesn't ignore that Obama was influenced by communists, socialists, Islamists, Critical Race Theorists, Black Liberation Theologists, anti-American terrorists, and plain old Chicago machine pay-to-play corruptocrats, besides anti-colonialists. Those ideologies and the tactics of their adherents overlap anyway. But it chooses the best thread that can be told visually and humanizes the subject: the anti-colonialism of the father. The Churchill bust symbolism works - people reveal themselves through small gestures. "2016" doesn't "fault Obama for not declaring war on Iran". Instead it showed him facilitating the Islamists in forming what D'Souza calls "The United States of Islam" across North Africa and the Middle East.

    The movie has respectful interviews, and a credible contrast between the man raised in the Third World who embraces what America offers, and the one who does not.

    Anyone interested in modern politics from any viewpoint should see the film with an open mind.

  • Blueman||

    I started out as a liberal. I didn't have to have a third world pov to get there, or be involved with Chicago politics. It is just that most of the Democratic/liberal views are dependent on what sounds good. As I got older and more educated I started to see the cracks in that world-view.

    I remember a while back seeing a video (probably on Reason) of a former co-worker who said that Obama showed an extrordinary lack of interest in fighting out ideas. Obama would lecture on some aspect of constitutional law but didn't stay after to debate with fellow professors and lecturers. I think he made up his mind about his basic political stances very early on and has just acted according to those ideas since then.

    He is so damn unoriginal in his thoughts. It seems pretty standard thinking of liberal college students. I do have to give him credit to being a master straw man fighter.

  • A. Hick||

    The tone of this movie is the only thing “reasonable” about it, and the production values are high dollar, but the theories advanced are “velvet gloved” paranoid fantasy on a level with “birtherism.”

    The reviewer in Reason gets one thing exactly right. His characterization of “the eight corpse-strewn and impoverishing years of the George W. Bush's administration.”

    The supposed secret Muslim radical (and simultaneous Marxist atheist) Barack Obama, Jr., in reality, has continued the disastrous bailout and tax policies of his predecessor, while, like Bush, he coddles speculators, crony capitalists, government contractors, and war profiteers while pretending to champion financial and fiscal reform.

    D’Souza’s movie has its Freudian slip. Even such a partisan piece of propaganda can’t (and doesn’t) deny that the immediate fiscal destruction of the United States began in 2001, not 2009.

    Instead of going about fact checking this movie, just ask yourself these questions: How much greater (or smaller) do you really think the US debt would be now if McCain were president? And how much greater or less, after tax rates are cut yet again in 2013, and a neocon war with Iran takes its budgetary toll, do you think the debt will be in 2017 after four year of Romney, rather than four more of Obama?

  • sasapm||

    Thanks for posting this. Today I watched this documentary film. After searching for long time, only I found this. I recommend you to watch this if you didn't watch yet.

    http://www.thegreatplanet.com/.....rica-2012/

  • let's work together||

    now someone make a movie about 2016 Romneys America, i wonder if someone can get into his head.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement