Well, the hits are deserved. D'Souza admits to readers that this is his third crack at a Grand Unifying Theory of Obama, after a Hobbesian take he called "Obama's Leviathan" and an argument that "Obama got his big government philosophy from the civil rights era." Only after seeing Obama give a definition of "American exceptionalism" that didn't sound right did D'Souza go back to Obama's books and realize that the president was cribbing his politics from 1960s Marxist and anti-colonial theory.
"This is intellectual terrain I know well," he writes. Obama "demonizes his predecessor and his opponents," according to D'Souza, because he looks to former Kenyan Prime Minister and President Jomo Kenyatta as an inspiration. That creates a mystery about why George W. Bush criticized Bill Clinton or Clinton criticized Bush's father, but never mind: D'Souza's rolling. D'Souza looks at Obama's 2008 campaign and sees "social and cultural whitening" and the "triumph of lactification," a word he invents to describe said whitening. While everyone else read Dreams From My Father and saw Obama burning with disappointment in Barack Sr., D'Souza sees a man burning with "hatred derived from the debris of the anti-colonial wars." Even the title of Obama's book becomes ominous, when D'Souza takes his third crack at analyzing it: "[T]here have been cases of men who are so preoccupied with their dark dreams that they have difficulty adjusting to contemporary reality. The dream, as it were, becomes a time machine."
Read this book, or the version mystifyingly splashed on the cover of Forbes, and you have to think that D'Souza has ruined a very fun game for conservatives. He's taken a not-so-subtle political trick—the intimation that Obama must be hiding something about his past, something that reveals why he's been such a left-wing president—and made it much more difficult. That's because the quest to find anti-colonial sentiment in Obama's biography reminds us that, in fact, Obama has never tried to cover up this part of his past. If he had, the first lines of his star-making 2004 DNC speech screwed that up.
"My father was a foreign student," said Obama, "born and raised in a small village in Kenya. He grew up herding goats, went to school in a tin-roof shack. His father—my grandfather—was a cook, a domestic servant to the British."
There's nothing in that speech about Obama Sr.'s 1965 musing about confiscatory taxes, but here's the man making his national political debut by hinting at the "source of his rage": colonialism. He seemed to have gotten over it. And if pulling that one quote from this speech to make a point seems cheap, it's less of a stretch then poring over, literally, a few dozen pages of a best-selling memoir to argue that the man who favored a smaller stimulus than Paul Krugman and a wider war in Afghanistan than Joe Biden is a closet Mau Mau.
What will be the impact of D'Souza's book? If 1995 and 2007 repeat themselves, Gingrich will be the exception—people in the rest of the movement will realize just how tissue-thin this research is. If they realize that, they may then look askance at Glenn Beck's search for similar evidence of Obama's radical history. They may even question the wisdom of questioning Obama's birthplace. Could the search for some skeleton key in Obama's past be a distraction? It could be! If it were a book, it could be called the The End of Birtherism.