Posted on | August 24, 2012 | 37 Comments
Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF): 2016 is a fantastic first therapeutic step for that Lefty friend of yours.
This blog doesn’t do movie reviews, being generally too caffeinated for extended screen staring. However, 2016: Obama’s America seemed a bloggable event. Here it goes.
For a movie with a futuristic title, 2016 spends the bulk of its time looking back, trying to get into the head of Barack Obama. If you find inner workings and hidden mechanisms of the subject head of no interest, then this is not the movie for you. Dinesh D’Souza, our guide to that head, uses Dreams From My Father as a roadmap. This is genius, as it obviates accusations that D’Souza was faking it as he went. As for the author of DFMF, [insert riff here].
The other key piece besides DFMF for scope is the auteur himself: D’Souza introduces 2016 by discussing his own, substantial biographical similarity to his subject. This is important because having an interviewer of Indian extraction grants the sort of outside-in perspective given by Borat, while remaining watchable. (I cashed out of Borat, playing on the hotel movie channel where I happened to be, at the rodeo scene where the Star Spangled Banner was butchered.)
So we have a quasi-foreigner peering through the lens of DFMF and offering the thesis that BHO is an echo of Barack Obama Sr.’s anti-colonialist views. I don’t disagree that this may be a significant component of his thinking. In confining himself to DFMF, D’Souza avoids material that would be incendiary. The target audience, again, seems to be people on the Left who need to come to grips with having been duped in 2008, and need to begin somewhere with just a little less bombast than the Mike Church show.
D’Souza’s task seems to be to portray Obama as coherent, if not likable. While D’Souza’s conservative views are in plain sight, D’Souza is anxious to show, through the faces and words of people who knew Barack Obama Senior as well as BHO, that BHO’s ideas have a starting point, and a historical context. There is a sense to it, whether or not you find it agreeable.
And I don’t. D’Souza wants to simplify the last four years to Barack working out his issues with his dad, as seen in DFMF. Well, I don’t think that more than a superficial analysis. I simply don’t believe much of anything about Barack. Every state from or about the fellow has to be assigned a probability of truth.
D’Souza’s scope, for example neatly avoids that pesky literary biography. While likely an example of pure marketing gimmickry, that and so many other details (Pakistan?) call into question whether much of Obama’s public record has a factual basis.
And so, having spent the bulk of the run time getting the audience to the 2008 election, D’Souza looks at some highlights from the administration. That bust of Churchill looms large for its colonial significance. The Obama Administration’s bizarre, spastic inability to relate the facts concerning the bust were at once silly and worrisome. Middle Eastern and domestic policy, seen through an anti-U.S. lens which sets America up as a neo-colonial power, and then then determines to topple the U.S., does make a depressing sense.
Ultimately, though, the results are what matters, not the motives or the analysis. Some time is spent on the race question, which D’Souza handles deftly. Obama, an interview passage with Shelby Steele suggests, is the uber-huckster, translating latent societal guilt into political power. People “wanted” to help Barack. This is how he wound up on the Harvard Law Review. The 2008 election was a triumph of mental judo, scaling Obama’s skill to eclipse Hillary Clinton’s campaign. But, while “Vote for Obama to prove you’re not raaaaacist” worked in 2008, the oratory didn’t scale. The cold light of day and the hard realities of economics meant that there was no recovery. The results aren’t there.
Now, according to D’Souza, for anti-colonialist Obama, this is all ‘fair’. Some karmic debt is paid if the entire world is a shanty town. I guess. Past all the crypto-Marxist theories, I can’t accept that BHO really wants an economically wasted country for himself and his daughters. It’s just too nihilistic, too ‘Borat’ of a worldview to accept, even in the possibly flaky head of another. Thus, I am not prepared to accept D’Souza’s thesis fully.
Where this movie is extremely valuable is as therapy for independent and blue-dog Democrat voters who need some kind of dispassionate means getting some perspective about 2008. In offering a non-shrieking place for Obama supporters to begin an introspective review of where we were told we’re going, where we are, and where we’d like to be, D’Souza has mad a valuable contribution.
Years later, when the memoirs are written, I expect that Obama will stand more revealed as combining the worst features of a Commie radical and a Mafia thug. 2016′s portrait of Obama as a man struggling to figure out what to do with that mental image of dad is a beginning. And it’s good for now. Plenty of time for a more sordid truth to emerge later, once the economic situation is less dire.
Update: linked by Rhetorican.
Update II: Another review at Stacy on the Right.
Update III: linked by Fishersville Mike.
Update IV: Another review at Perfection Under A Red Umbrella