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Roeper: Fear and loathing in ‘2016: Obama’s America’

Updated: October 5, 2012 6:06AM

In one of the many scenes in “2016: Obama’s America” that has nothing to do with Barack Obama, ultra-right author Dinesh D’Souza recounts his debate with Jesse Jackson about racism in America.

As D’Souza tells us how Jackson claims racism is still prevalent but in more subtle forms, we see staged footage of a young black man walking into a tavern and sitting between two white guys, who instantly get up and leave. The tough-looking characters shooting pool, the other patrons of the bar — they want nothing to do with the black man.

But wait. Turns out the two guys that left their stools had gone into the kitchen to fetch a cake. It’s the black guy’s birthday! Everyone in the bar applauds as the cake is presented to him.

Wait, what?

Thus concludes a scene in which amateurish actors stumble through a scenario that looks like it’s from some educational film from the early 1960s. It is one of many head-scratching moments in “2016: Obama’s America,” the hit documentary based on D’Souza’s best-selling book, The Roots of Obama’s Rage, and co-written and co-directed by D’Souza.

Despite D’Souza’s hokey re-enactments and a heavy-handed and often desultory tone, “2016” has become a surprise success story, expanding from a single theater in Houston to 1,747 screens and taking in more than $18.3 million. (Among the backers of the $2.5 million movie: Joe Ricketts, who contributed $125,000 to the marketing campaign.)

The success comes despite mostly scathing reviews from that left-leaning, lamestream liberal media and fact-checked articles that cast serious doubts about some of the film’s claims. (Before we proceed: Yes, I have criticized Michael Moore for the grandstanding, time-shifting, sometimes fact-challenged theatrics in his films.) As the Associated Press has pointed out, D’Souza talks about Obama returning a bust of Winston Churchill to the British as if it were an act of disrespect to our ally, even though the bust was on loan to the Bush administration and was scheduled to be returned. The film also faults Obama for the escalation of the national debt (certainly true) but fails to mention the Bush administration’s role in that escalation; claims Obama is sympathetic to jihadists in Pakistan and Afghanistan but never mentions the killing of Osama bin Laden, and paints slanted, incomplete pictures of Obama’s views on the Falklands and Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

D’Souza’s movie is equal parts anti-Obama infomercial, fear-mongering screed and psychoanalysis from afar. Traveling to Hawaii, Kenya and Indonesia, interviewing like-minded academics and a few fringe figures from Obama’s past, D’Souza pushes his theory that Obama is an anti-American, anti-colonialist whose father is the dominant guiding force in his life.

The father who left when his son was 2 years old and saw him just once after that, when Obama was 10. The father who died in a car crash when Obama was in college.

According to “2016,” Obama idealized his father, even though the man was hopping around the globe, fathering other children, getting drunk and having nothing to do with Barack. The film also maintains Obama was deeply influenced by a group of personal “Founding Fathers” that includes the usual suspects: William Ayers, Jeremiah Wright, a leftist teacher. D’Souza quotes from a 1965 article written by Barack Sr.; interviews an old man who was once friends with Obama’s father; shows us a dramatic re-enactment of young Barack kneeling at his father’s grave — all in the service of trying to convince us that Obama has a Third World view, is sympathetic to Muslim jihadists and is leading us down the path to utter ruin. By design.

“Only through the dreams of Obama’s father can we understand the actions of Obama,” we’re told.

At times “2016” plays like a parody of an anti-Obama film. Ominous music, visuals of storm clouds gathering, a map showing the Middle East becoming “The United States of Islam,” split-screen images of the White House and the shack in Nairobi that houses Obama’s half-brother.

“Which dream will we carry into 2016?” asks D’Souza. “The American dream, or Obama’s dream?”

By which they mean the American nightmare.

Despite the unsophisticated production values, wild leaps of logic and speculative psychoanalysis, “2016: Obama’s America” is clearly succeeding at reaching an audience desirous of having its worst suspicions about Obama confirmed. If you really believe every ounce of this film, you must be getting ready to pack your bags and exit this country if the unthinkable happens and a duped electorate votes to retain the president and accelerate the destruction of America.

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