Daily Beast: The Rise and Fall of Dinesh D’Souza

David Sessions briefly chronicles Dinesh D’Souza’s rise and recent fall within conservative circles this morning at the Daily Beast. At this point, it is hard to tell whether or not the title of the article is wishful thinking. After watching the conservative response to David Barton’s disgrace over The Jefferson Lies, I am not so sure that D’Souza is done among the conservatives and the religious right.

Even so, Sessions points us to this 2010 Weekly Standard article about D’Souza’s book on Obama’s “rage”:

On the evidence of his new book, we can’t be sure if Dinesh D’Souza is a hysteric or a cynic. Newt Gingrich, for his part, thinks D’Souza is a visionary, and he’s been praising the visionary and his book with the patented Gingrichian intensity. D’Souza is the possessor of a “stunning insight,” Gingrich said recently, in an interview with National Review Online’s Robert Costa. This insight is “the most profound insight I have read in the last six years about Barack Obama,” Gingrich continued, while poor Costa looked for a table to duck under. “Only if you understand Kenyan, anticolonial behavior can you piece together [Obama’s actions]. That is the most accurate, predictive model for his behavior.”

As a professional partisan with a Ph.D., Newt Gingrich will take anything seriously if it suits his immediate purpose and has the necessary intellectual pretensions (whatever happened to the Tofflers anyway?). D’Souza’s thesis, with its exoticism (Kenya) and its scholarly tags (anticolonial behavior), looks tailor-made for the former speaker. The insight with which D’Souza has stunned him is purely abstract and syllogistic: (1) Barack Obama really admired his father, Barack Obama Sr., and wanted to be like him; (2) Obama Sr. grew up in Kenya and became an anticolonial agitator; therefore (3) Obama Jr. wants to be an anticolonial agitator, too, and since he’s simultaneously president of the United States, he gets to be anticolonial in a very big way and drag us along with him.

Note the date – 2010 – D’Souza took that conservative licking and kept on ticking, now out with a wildly successful documentary based on the book panned by the Weekly Standard. Disgraced conservative commentators are like cats – fluid with nine lives. Even with the latest scandal (being engaged while still married) and his utterly implausible excuse (“I didn’t know it was wrong”), he will probably land on his feet and live to conspire another day.

Sessions ends his piece with a similar realization:

But D’Souza’s excommunication isn’t likely to keep him down. Obama’s America is already the second most successful political documentary ever. D’Souza long ago cast his lot with political entertainment, and at the right-wing box office, a lack of scholarly qualifications may be the best qualification he could have.

And here we have a core evangelical problem stated well – poor scholarship will get you farther than good scholarship. It is a maddening fact that the right wing thought leaders elevate “experts” who cleverly peddle politically useful untruths over nuanced arguments made with documentation and reflection. The masses trust the AFAs, and FRCs of the world. Then when those “experts” are caught up short, there is massive private and internal pressure to prop up the experts, no matter how much evidence exists demonstrating their errors.

Sadly, I think Sessions is correct and while D’Souza may see some bumps in the road, my guess is that many religious right leaders will choose pragmatics over principle.


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  • James Ferguson

    How many lives has Glenn Beck used up? I think Dinesh still has a few to go.

  • Jim Guinnessey

    “Dinesh D’Souza, Bryan Fischer and their other well-funded Far Right mud-slinging buddies have managed to dupe and convince their like-minded adherents that vitriol and hypocrisy are really virtues not vices.. Lies and made-up facts have been their armour in their incessant attacks on groups and individuals who expose them for what they are: well-paid, venomous hacks!

  • Richard Willmer

    And talking of far right mud-slinging individuals, it seems that the lovely Scott Lively (apologies for the mordant sarcasm) is trying a new tack: http://www.scottlively.net/2012/10/14/the-kool-aid-has-always-been-gay/

    Does this mean that he realises that not many people his ‘gay Hitler’ thesis very seriously, so must now try a different approach?

  • TxHistoryProf

    When a #2 grossing political documentary has this much controversy there must be some truth or it would be left to fall by the wayside. Much of this book and movie is Conspiracy Theory but other parts or each raise eyebrows and give “Aha!” moments. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Will his book be recalled by its publisher as well?

  • The masses trust the AFAs, and FRCs of the world.

    Not just the masses, alas. While some Evangelicals with Integrity see the light – eventually – it can take a while, they’re cautious about thinking ill of anyone – many still think that no Good Christian would ever deliberately and maliciously lie. Actually, they’re right there. Where they’re so tragically wrong is that they think the AFA, FAC etc are Good Christians.

    Warren, I’m sure you know some of these people. Good people. How do we reach them?

  • Boo

    TX History Prof- The Birth of a Nation grossed a lot of money for its time and had a lot of controversy about it. Which parts would you say were truth?

  • TxHistoryProf


    Most of that 1916 motion picture was one in the Dunning historiographical style which focused on the premis that Recbstruction ruined the South and that giving the freed slaves the franchise brought about the need for segregation. This film was written and produced in a time that was only 51years after the end of the Civil War which made most of the material fresh in recent memory or there were people who had it fresh in recent memory making objectivity difficult if not impossible .

    Dinesh, even with his bias, uses Obama’s own words against him in advancing his thesis. However,like Birth of a Nation, much of what Dinesh writes about s very recent history not affording us full objectivity of the effect that the Obama presidency will have on America. However, the right wing Evangelical Chrstian slant makes it difficult to separate fact from fiction in some places.


    You are sooo right. They never want to criticize a fellow Cgristian because he or she would never lie to advance an agenda. Like Barton, Dinesh is doing a similar act but Dinesh has much better academic credentials affording him the ability to write a very convincing if not thought provoking profile of this POTUS, We must ask “What if he is right?” Are we willing to watch America go under while we had a chance to stop it?

  • Boo

    Tx History Prof- I didn’t ask how people viewed it when it came out. I asked which parts were true. I’ll answer the question for you: there was a Civil War and there was a place known as the south. Beyond that, it was 100% bull-pucky. Making money and being controversial doesn’t add weight to an argument. Just look at Glenn Beck.

    Do you remember 2008 at all? Tons of people on the right were saying that if Obama was elected, he would destroy the country in all sorts of ways; surrender to radical Islam, turn us all Socialist, leave all our milk out to spoil, etc. Not one of those predictions came true. Now we’re supposed to believe someone who has spent his entire term governing as a compulsive centrist, someone whose most “socialist” accomplishment was based on Republican ideas, is suddenly going to morph into am ultra-radical leftist when reelected? Seriously?

  • David Blakeslee

    Warren…your comment “And here we have a core evangelical problem stated well – poor scholarship will get you farther than good scholarship.”

    This underscores your calling and mission. Well done.