I went to see this movie last night. I expected the theater to be deserted, but it was nearly packed (I live in a VERY blue state, but the town I went to see the movie in is conservative-leaning). The audience was mostly old people, but I was still pretty impressed.
I thought the movie was fairly interesting, if not especially important or convincing. The premise of most of the movie is Dinesh D’Souza (generally a commentator I enjoy, even though he leans neocon) asking the question, “Where did Obama get his crazy socialist beliefs from?” Spoilers, the answer is his parents, but particularly his father (who he never really knew). It’s an interesting premise, but I’m not sure it stands up to serious scrutiny. D’Souza claims that Obama’s actions and beliefs are unprecedented for an American president. I’m not entirely sure that’s true. Sure, Obama is a socialist, but am I really supposed to believe he’s more of a socialist than Jimmy Carter? Than LBJ, inventor of medicare? Than FDR? Nothing Obama has proposed yet even comes close to some of the New Deal programs that FDR got away with, including the actual confiscation of privately owned gold and literal wage and price controls.
The other problem with the, “Obama is a socialist because of his crazy Kenyan father,” argument is that it doesn’t explain all the OTHER socialists out there. While it’s entirely possible that Obama’s unusual background strongly influenced his beliefs, how would you explain, say, Ted Kennedy, someone with basically the exact opposite background and upbringing from Obama but with essentially the same ideals and positions?
The “story of Obama’s life” portion of the movie (which is essentially a documentary version of his book, “Dreams from my Father,” but with a negative spin) takes up about the first two thirds of the movie, which leaves only one third for the title premise of, “What does America look like in 2016 if Obama is re-elected?” This portion of the movie falls flat, mainly because it doesn’t get enough time to explore issues in a thorough and serious manner. Yes, it’s true that Obama’s middle-east policy may strengthen tyrannical regimes, but the issue is more complicated and deserves much more than a quick map of the middle east slowly being shaded green with “UNITED STATES OF ISLAM” captioned over it. A five-minute discussion of the budget deficit and Obamacare doesn’t really give you much that you haven’t already heard either. With so little time dedicated to these issues, I ended up feeling that the movie would have been better just not mentioning them at all and being devoted entirely to Obama’s life and upbringing.
I said above that the movie is interesting, but not important. I say it’s not important because it doesn’t really tell you much you don’t already know. The “Obama’s life” segment tells you about his background, but his background doesn’t really matter, his beliefs do. The “2016” segment doesn’t explore issues in enough detail to be of any use. Anyone who is politically informed enough to know this movie exists will already know the extent of the issues that are discussed.
The “interesting” part makes it worth the cost of admission though. Love him or hate him, Obama is not only a historically significant figure, but he has a pretty damn interesting life story. During the 2008 election, everyone seemed to be really excited about how “historic” it was that a (half) black man was being elected. Yet, for some reason, the only people who actually seemed to be interested in who the man was, where he came from, how he spent his childhood, etc. were conservatives who wanted to use that information against him. For some odd reason, none of his devoted followers on the left found it all that interesting that Obama’s story is far more interesting and complex than “the first black President.” He’s not just the first black President. He’s the first multi-racial President. He’s the first President from Hawaii. I’m going to guess (may very well be wrong on this one) that he’s the first President whose father and grandfather were polygamists and who spent his formative childhood years in a foreign country. Whether you think these facts make him less qualified to be President or not, surely we can all agree that they’re somewhat interesting? Surely we can all agree that the story of Obama’s life is a hell of a lot more compelling than the story of George Bush (either), Bill Clinton, or Richard Nixon, right?
I continue to be amazed that leftists don’t seem to think so. That in order to protect their political interests, they would rather this interesting story go completely untold. I know many conservatives who are very interested to know what his dissertation was about (we don’t, because his college records have all been sealed), but I don’t know any leftist supporters of his who seem to care, or be the least bit curious about it. Odd, isn’t it?