"2016" is based on The Roots of Obama's Rage, a book by Dinesh D'Souza, published by the Regnery Press. Regnery Press is a conservative publishing house which for a time was run by Al Regnery, a University of Wisconsin law grad who lost to Jim Doyle for Dane County DA back in 1976. The guy was just five years out of law school but was trying to overcome that limitation by an amazingly clever campaign slogan: "Tough on Crime." The New Republic did a fascinating piece on Regnery in 1986 that addressed his campaign, including a seemingly fabricated claim that his wife was assaulted by two black men in the weeks leading up to the election. Presumably a claim intended to drive home the need to get "tough on crime." Jim Doyle went on to become governor of Wisconsin, and Al Regnery took over the family publishing house publishing right wing books.
Dinesh D'Souza's book on Obama has been thoroughly and amusingly trashed by Andrew Ferguson, in an article in the Weekly Standard, a conservative magazine, entitled "The Roots of Lunacy, How Not to Understand Obama." It is a good reminder that there are honorable people on both sides of the political spectrum doing honorable work by exposing crazies on their own side of the spectrum.
Some passages from Ferguson:
Now it’s 2010, and among his former enemies, Clinton is enjoying a Truman-like renaissance. Even such sweaty anti-Clinton paranoiacs as the investigative journalist Christopher Ruddy and the newspaper proprietor Richard Mellon Scaife have decided he wasn’t so bad after all. It’s almost enough to make you forget the insanity that gripped Clinton’s political opponents. Kemp didn’t know the half of it! Throughout the nineties I heard mainstream Republicans describe the president as a shameless womanizer and a closeted homosexual, a cokehead and a drunk, a wife beater and a wimp, a hick and a Machiavel, a committed pacifist and a reckless militarist who launched unnecessary airstrikes in faraway lands to distract the public’s attention from all of the above.
At gatherings of conservative activists the president was referred to, seriously, as a “Manchurian candidate.” Capitol Hill staffers speculated darkly about the “missing five days” on a trip Clinton had taken to Moscow as a graduate student. Respectable conservatives in the media—William Safire, Robert Novak, Rush Limbaugh—encouraged the suspicion that Clinton’s White House attorney, a manic depressive named Vincent Foster, did not commit suicide, as all available evidence suggested, but had been murdered by parties unknown, to hush up an unspeakable secret from the president’s past.
So what happened? How did the left-wing, coke-snorting Manchurian candidate become the fondly remembered Democrat-you-could-do-business-with—“good old Bill,” in Sean Hannity’s phrase?
Barack Obama is what happened. The partisan mind—left-wing or right-wing, Republican or Democrat—is incapable of maintaining more than one oversized object of irrational contempt at a time. When Obama took his place in the Republican imagination, his titanic awfulness crowded out the horrors of Bad Old Bill; Clinton’s five days in Moscow were replaced by Obama’s three years in that mysterious Indonesian “madrassa.”
It’s in this light that the anti-Obama hysteria of recent months should be seen. Among professionals, political loyalties and hates are as changeable as the weather, bearing no relation to the plain evidence that normal people try to rely on. Taking the long view means never taking them seriously. Lucky for us, the hysterics make it so easy not to take them seriously.
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.”The two new anti-Obama movies will probably do about as well as Atlas Shrugged did last year. AS, which cost $18 million to make, had total box office receipts of about $5 million, and a composite score of 11% on Rotten Tomatoes. However, I imagine Paul Ryan liked it, coming as it did well before he recently repudiated his love for Ayn Rand to hold onto Christianists' support in case he gets the vice-presidential nod from Romney.