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2016: well worth watching, but with a couple of flaws

Posted by Richard on August 26, 2012

Let me begin by saying I really liked Obama’s America: 2016. I urge you to go see it and to get family and friends who are “soft” Obama supporters or mainstream, moderately liberal Democrats to go with you. (There’s no point in taking your cousin in the Occupy Movement or other other hard-core leftists; the film will only make them more sympathetic to Obama.) I do have quibbles, but I’ll save them for later, since they’re mostly about the last part of the film.

The film has high production values, with especially fine music and excellent cinematography. It’s a pleasure to watch. Much of it is filmed in third-world locations. It begins with D’Souza describing his third-world roots and how he became an American, thus establishing his credibility regarding much that follows. D’Souza draws parallels between his own story and Obama’s (to be clear, though, he’s not a birther and explicitly says Obama was born in Hawaii).

D’Souza spends a lot of time in Kenya, trying to learn about Barack Obama, Sr. He has no luck with the Obama family/clan after someone apparently discovers where his sympathies lie. The Luo are a polygamous tribe, and I don’t remember all the relationships or who did what, but at some point the film crew is warned that it’s no longer safe for them to remain in the village.

D’Souza has more luck with Obama’s half-brother George, who doesn’t share the anti-colonialist mindset of his father, other members of his family, and half-brother. For instance, George points out that at one time Kenya was more economically advanced than Korea. But today, South Korea is a wealthy, advanced, industrialized nation while Kenya is still primitive and poor. At this point, I think the film could have done a better job of connecting the anti-colonialist values that kept Kenya poor to socialism, and could have pointed out the irony that the socialism embraced by third-world anti-colonialists is the product of white Europeans.

We learn of the absent father’s influence on his son via Obama’s own words in Dreams from My Father (it’s significant, as D’Souza notes, that the title says “from,” not “of”). And there’s an interesting interview with a psych professor specializing in the effect of absent fathers on their offspring. But more importantly in my mind, we learn about the other intellectual influences on Obama, some of which were new to me.

I knew, of course, about the Rev. Wright and Bill Ayers (and how bogus Obama’s attempts to distance himself from them in 2008 were). I even knew that Frank Marshall Davis was his mentor and was a hard-core communist. But I didn’t know that Obama’s white (maternal) grandfather was a hard-core leftist, a very good friend of Davis, and asked Davis to mentor young Barack.

I knew that Obama’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, was a leftist, but I didn’t know that she fought with and eventually left her second husband, Lolo Soetoro, because he went to work for an American oil company and became more westernized. I didn’t know that she instilled in young Barack an idealized view of his father and an abiding admiration for his father’s anti-colonialist/socialist values, and that it was probably to remove Soetoro as an influence in his life that she sent him from Indonesia back to Hawaii to attend school.

I also didn’t know about some of the other radical leftists/communists mentioned in the film who were significant influences in the development of Obama’s values and world-view.

At this point, the film has done a fine job of showing that prior to the presidency (to borrow a metaphor from Hugh Hewitt), Obama spent his entire life swimming in radical leftist/socialist/communist waters. Then it argues convincingly that in his first term, Obama tempered his leftism to a significant degree so that he could win a second term (including the infamous “hot mic” clip where Obama tells Russian President Dimitry Medvedev that after being re-elected he’ll “have more flexibility”).

So then we arrive at the portion of the film addressing what would happen in a second Obama term and how the United States would look in 2016 if he’s re-elected. Unfortunately, I think this is the weakest part of the film.

My first complaint with this portion of the film is that it focuses too much on Obama’s efforts to reduce America’s nuclear arsenal in particular and on America’s role in the world in general. Mind you, I’m a neo-libertarian, not a paleo-libertarian, so I’m fine with the idea of the United States being the world’s sole super-power as long as it’s serving the ideals on which this nation was founded. I just think that if you want to influence the outcome of the November election, graphics of various nations’ nuclear arsenals are not the way to go.

My second complaint is with the way the domestic policy issue is addressed. The film focuses entirely on Obama’s explosion of the federal debt, which would be fine if the purpose and consequences were clearly articulated. But I don’t think they are. If the film were even five or ten minutes longer, it could explain that Obama’s unprecedented level of deficit spending (42 cents of every federal dollar spent) results in a huge transfer of wealth from “the rich” (mostly, those who’ve earned what they have) to “the poor” and how monetizing the debt (i.e., expanding the money supply) eventually makes us all poorer.

As it is, the film just says “look how big the federal debt is going to get, isn’t that terrible?” I think it could have done better. And it could have addressed other domestic issues, like crippling regulations. Tying those to the film’s anti-colonialism theme might have taken a bit more effort — but more clearly connecting anti-colonialism to socialism earlier in the film would have made that easier.

Bottom line: Gerald R. Molen has produced and Dinesh D’Souza has co-directed a fine film. But it could have been truly outstanding with just a few tweaks. Still, go see it ASAP and get your friends to do likewise.

The tag-line for the film is “Love him, hate him, you don’t know him.” I think that’s entirely valid — at least 99.5% of the people who see this film will learn things they didn’t know about Obama. And that’s a good thing.

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4 Responses to “2016: well worth watching, but with a couple of flaws”

  1. zombyboy said

    Do you think it will actually shift any opinions?

    • Richard said

      I doubt that it will change many minds. Even though I urged people to take their Democrat family and friends, I suspect that very few people who describe themselves as Obama supporters will ever see this film.

      It’s more likely to impact people who aren’t happy with the Obama administration and the direction of the country, but aren’t really sold on Romney and the Republicans either, or who just don’t care much about politics and don’t think their participation makes any difference. Those people are more likely to be persuaded to go see it, and at the margin it could shift a number of them into “jeez, we’ve gotta stop this guy” mode. And in politics, small changes at the margin can make a difference.

      • zombyboy said

        Maybe I’ll take my officemates.

        When I asked Sonja if she wanted to go sometime next week, she told me she was curious but she didn’t want to sit through a movie-length campaign ad. Which is fair: we’re seeing enough of those on TV right now. Trying to decide whether it’s worth trying to get her to go see it (she’s not an Obama fan, but she hasn’t decided how she’s voting) or if it will just make her cranky.

        • Richard said

          Well, I can’t guarantee no crankiness — there’s no telling how a specific individual will react. But I’d say she’s the perfect target demographic.

          It’s definitely not an extended campaign ad, and it doesn’t come across (to me, at least) as purely partisan Obama-bashing.

          There’s no question that D’Souza opposes Obama and everything he stands for, but it struck me as a pretty fair look at how and why Obama came to be the man he is. I’d say I understand him and where he’s coming from better now. It didn’t exactly make me sympathetic toward Obama, but I can understand where he’s coming from better. And I’m more certain than ever that he must be denied a second term.

          Hope that helps.

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