The below article, from the respected Forbes magazine, is one of
the most insightful articles I have ever read. It is a
psychological portrait of Barack Obama. It helps explain why he
thinks the way he thinks, and why he does what he does.
This is not your typical, sensational blog-blast against Obama. The
author, Dr. Dinesh D'Souza, is president of the King's College in New
York City, and the author of the forthcoming book The Roots of Obama's
Rage (Regnery Publishing). I have seen Dr. D'Souza interviewed
on television. He is a brilliant scholar and commentator.
Dr. D'Souza explains why "America today is governed by a ghost"
(the ghost of Obama's father). This is sobering, and absolutely
chilling, when you learn what his father was.
Former House speaker Newt Gingrich tells National Review Online that
D’Souza has made a “stunning insight” into Obama’s behavior the “most
profound insight I have read in the last six years about Barack
On The Cover/Top Stories
How Obama Thinks
Dinesh D'Souza, 09.27.10, 12:00 AM ET
Barack Obama is the most antibusiness president in a generation, perhaps
in American history. Thanks to him the era of big government is back.
Obama runs up taxpayer debt not in the billions but in the trillions. He
has expanded the federal government's control over home mortgages,
investment banking, health care, autos and energy. The Weekly Standard
summarizes Obama's approach as omnipotence at home, impotence
The President's actions are so bizarre that they mystify his critics and
supporters alike. Consider this headline from the Aug. 18, 2009 issue of
the Wall Street Journal: "Obama Underwrites Offshore
Drilling." Did you read that correctly? You did. The Administration
supports offshore drilling--but drilling off the shores of Brazil. With
Obama's backing, the U.S. Export-Import Bank offered $2 billion in loans
and guarantees to Brazil's state-owned oil company Petrobras to finance
exploration in the Santos Basin near Rio de Janeiro--not so the oil ends
up in the U.S. He is funding Brazilian exploration so that the oil can
stay in Brazil.
More strange behavior: Obama's June 15, 2010 speech in response to the
Gulf oil spill focused not on cleanup strategies but rather on the fact
that Americans "consume more than 20% of the world's oil but have
less than 2% of the world's resources." Obama railed on about
"America's century-long addiction to fossil fuels." What does
any of this have to do with the oil spill? Would the calamity have been
less of a problem if America consumed a mere 10% of the world's
The oddities go on and on. Obama's Administration has declared that even
banks that want to repay their bailout money may be refused permission to
do so. Only after the Obama team cleared a bank through the Fed's
"stress test" was it eligible to give taxpayers their money
back. Even then, declared Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, the
Administration might force banks to keep the money.
The President continues to push for stimulus even though hundreds of
billions of dollars in such funds seem to have done little. The
unemployment rate when Obama took office in January 2009 was 7.7%; now it
is 9.5%. Yet he wants to spend even more and is determined to foist the
entire bill on Americans making $250,000 a year or more. The rich, Obama
insists, aren't paying their "fair share." This by itself seems
odd given that the top 1% of Americans pay 40% of all federal income
taxes; the next 9% of income earners pay another 30%. So the top 10% pays
70% of the taxes; the bottom 40% pays close to nothing. This does indeed
seem unfair--to the rich.
Obama's foreign policy is no less strange. He supports a $100 million
mosque scheduled to be built near the site where terrorists in the name
of Islam brought down the World Trade Center. Obama's rationale, that
"our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable," seems
utterly irrelevant to the issue of why the proposed Cordoba House should
be constructed at Ground Zero.
Recently the London Times reported that the Obama Administration
supported the conditional release of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, the
Lockerbie bomber convicted in connection with the deaths of 270 people,
mostly Americans. This was an eye-opener because when Scotland released
Megrahi from prison and sent him home to Libya in August 2009, the Obama
Administration publicly and appropriately complained. The Times,
however, obtained a letter the Obama Administration sent to Scotland a
week before the event in which it said that releasing Megrahi on
"compassionate grounds" was acceptable as long as he was kept
in Scotland and would be "far preferable" to sending him back
to Libya. Scottish officials interpreted this to mean that U.S.
objections to Megrahi's release were "half-hearted." They
released him to his home country, where he lives today as a free
One more anomaly: A few months ago nasa Chief Charles Bolden announced
that from now on the primary mission of America's space agency would be
to improve relations with the Muslim world. Come again? Bolden said he
got the word directly from the President. "He wanted me to find a
way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly
Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution
to science and math and engineering." Bolden added that the
International Space Station was a model for nasa's future, since it was
not just a U.S. operation but included the Russians and the Chinese.
Obama's redirection of the agency caused consternation among former
astronauts like Neil Armstrong and John Glenn, and even among the
President's supporters: Most people think of nasa's job as one of landing
on the moon and Mars and exploring other faraway destinations. Sure, we
are for Islamic self-esteem, but what on earth was Obama up to
Theories abound to explain the President's goals and actions. Critics in
the business community--including some Obama voters who now have buyer's
remorse--tend to focus on two main themes. The first is that Obama is
clueless about business. The second is that Obama is a socialist--not an
out-and-out Marxist, but something of a European-style socialist, with a
penchant for leveling and government redistribution.
These theories aren't wrong so much as they are inadequate. Even if they
could account for Obama's domestic policy, they cannot explain his
foreign policy. The real problem with Obama is worse--much worse. But we
have been blinded to his real agenda because, across the political
spectrum, we all seek to fit him into some version of American history.
In the process, we ignore Obama's own history. Here is a man who spent
his formative years--the first 17 years of his life--off the American
mainland, in Hawaii, Indonesia and Pakistan, with multiple subsequent
journeys to Africa.
A good way to discern what motivates Obama is to ask a simple question:
What is his dream? Is it the American dream? Is it Martin Luther King's
dream? Or something else?
It is certainly not the American dream as conceived by the founders. They
believed the nation was a "new order for the ages." A
half-century later Alexis de Tocqueville wrote of America as creating
"a distinct species of mankind." This is known as American
exceptionalism. But when asked at a 2009 press conference whether he
believed in this ideal, Obama said no. America, he suggested, is no more
unique or exceptional than Britain or Greece or any other
Perhaps, then, Obama shares Martin Luther King's dream of a color-blind
society. The President has benefited from that dream; he campaigned as a
nonracial candidate, and many Americans voted for him because he
represents the color-blind ideal. Even so, King's dream is not Obama's:
The President never champions the idea of color-blindness or
race-neutrality. This inaction is not merely tactical; the race issue
simply isn't what drives Obama.
What then is Obama's dream? We don't have to speculate because the
President tells us himself in his autobiography, Dreams from My
Father. According to Obama, his dream is his father's dream. Notice
that his title is not Dreams of My Father but rather Dreams
from My Father. Obama isn't writing about his father's dreams; he is
writing about the dreams he received from his father.
So who was Barack Obama Sr.? He was a Luo tribesman who grew up in Kenya
and studied at Harvard. He was a polygamist who had, over the course of
his lifetime, four wives and eight children. One of his sons, Mark Obama,
has accused him of abuse and wife-beating. He was also a regular drunk
driver who got into numerous accidents, killing a man in one and causing
his own legs to be amputated due to injury in another. In 1982 he got
drunk at a bar in Nairobi and drove into a tree, killing
An odd choice, certainly, as an inspirational hero. But to his son, the
elder Obama represented a great and noble cause, the cause of
anticolonialism. Obama Sr. grew up during Africa's struggle to be free of
European rule, and he was one of the early generation of Africans chosen
to study in America and then to shape his country's future.
I know a great deal about anticolonialism, because I am a native of
Mumbai, India. I am part of the first Indian generation to be born after
my country's independence from the British. Anticolonialism was the
rallying cry of Third World politics for much of the second half of the
20th century. To most Americans, however, anticolonialism is an
unfamiliar idea, so let me explain it.
Anticolonialism is the doctrine that rich countries of the West got rich
by invading, occupying and looting poor countries of Asia, Africa and
South America. As one of Obama's acknowledged intellectual influences,
Frantz Fanon, wrote in The Wretched of the Earth, "The
well-being and progress of Europe have been built up with the sweat and
the dead bodies of Negroes, Arabs, Indians and the yellow
Anticolonialists hold that even when countries secure political
independence they remain economically dependent on their former captors.
This dependence is called neocolonialism, a term defined by the African
statesman Kwame Nkrumah (1909--72) in his book Neocolonialism: The
Last Stage of Imperialism. Nkrumah, Ghana's first president, writes
that poor countries may be nominally free, but they continue to be
manipulated from abroad by powerful corporate and plutocratic elites.
These forces of neocolonialism oppress not only Third World people but
also citizens in their own countries. Obviously the solution is to resist
and overthrow the oppressors. This was the anticolonial ideology of
Barack Obama Sr. and many in his generation, including many of my own
relatives in India.
Obama Sr. was an economist, and in 1965 he published an important article
in the East Africa Journal
As he put it, "We need to eliminate power structures that have been
built through excessive accumulation so that not only a few individuals
shall control a vast magnitude of resources as is the case now." The
senior Obama proposed that the state confiscate private land and raise
taxes with no upper limit. In fact, he insisted that "theoretically
there is nothing that can stop the government from taxing 100% of income
so long as the people get benefits from the government commensurate with
their income which is taxed."
Remarkably, President Obama, who knows his father's history very well,
has never mentioned his father's article. Even more remarkably, there has
been virtually no reporting on a document that seems directly relevant to
what the junior Obama is doing in the White House.
While the senior Obama called for Africa to free itself from the
neocolonial influence of Europe and specifically Britain, he knew when he
came to America in 1959 that the global balance of power was shifting.
Even then, he recognized what has become a new tenet of anticolonialist
ideology: Today's neocolonial leader is not Europe but America. As the
late Palestinian scholar Edward Said--who was one of Obama's teachers at
Columbia University--wrote in Culture and Imperialism, "The
United States has replaced the earlier great empires and is the dominant
From the anticolonial perspective, American imperialism is on a rampage.
For a while, U.S. power was checked by the Soviet Union, but since the
end of the Cold War, America has been the sole superpower. Moreover, 9/11
provided the occasion for America to invade and occupy two countries,
Iraq and Afghanistan, and also to seek political and economic domination
in the same way the French and the British empires once did. So in the
anticolonial view, America is now the rogue elephant that subjugates and
tramples the people of the world.
It may seem incredible to suggest that the anticolonial ideology of
Barack Obama Sr. is espoused by his son, the President of the United
States. That is what I am saying. From a very young age and through his
formative years, Obama learned to see America as a force for global
domination and destruction. He came to view America's military as an
instrument of neocolonial occupation. He adopted his father's position
that capitalism and free markets are code words for economic plunder.
Obama grew to perceive the rich as an oppressive class, a kind of
neocolonial power within America. In his worldview, profits are a measure
of how effectively you have ripped off the rest of society, and America's
power in the world is a measure of how selfishly it consumes the globe's
resources and how ruthlessly it bullies and dominates the rest of the
For Obama, the solutions are simple. He must work to wring the
neocolonialism out of America and the West. And here is where our
anticolonial understanding of Obama really takes off, because it provides
a vital key to explaining not only his major policy actions but also the
little details that no other theory can adequately account for.
Why support oil drilling off the coast of Brazil but not in America?
Obama believes that the West uses a disproportionate share of the world's
energy resources, so he wants neocolonial America to have less and the
former colonized countries to have more. More broadly, his proposal for
carbon taxes has little to do with whether the planet is getting warmer
or colder; it is simply a way to penalize, and therefore reduce,
America's carbon consumption. Both as a U.S. Senator and in his speech,
as President, to the United Nations, Obama has proposed that the West
massively subsidize energy production in the developing world.
called "Problems Facing Our
Socialism." Obama Sr. wasn't a doctrinaire socialist; rather, he saw
state appropriation of wealth as a necessary means to achieve the
anticolonial objective of taking resources away from the foreign looters
and restoring them to the people of Africa. For Obama Sr. this was an
issue of national autonomy. "Is it the African who owns this
country? If he does, then why should he not control the economic means of
growth in this country?"
Rejecting the socialist formula, Obama has shown no intention to
nationalize the investment banks or the health sector. Rather, he seeks
to decolonize these institutions, and this means bringing them under the
government's leash. That's why Obama retains the right to refuse bailout
paybacks--so that he can maintain his control. For Obama, health
insurance companies on their own are oppressive racketeers, but once they
submitted to federal oversight he was happy to do business with them. He
even promised them expanded business as a result of his law forcing every
American to buy health insurance.
If Obama shares his father's anticolonial crusade, that would explain why
he wants people who are already paying close to 50% of their income in
overall taxes to pay even more. The anticolonialist believes that since
the rich have prospered at the expense of others, their wealth doesn't
really belong to them; therefore whatever can be extracted from them is
automatically just. Recall what Obama Sr. said in his 1965 paper: There
is no tax rate too high, and even a 100% rate is justified under certain
Obama supports the Ground Zero mosque because to him 9/11 is the event
that unleashed the American bogey and pushed us into Iraq and
Afghanistan. He views some of the Muslims who are fighting against
America abroad as resisters of U.S. imperialism. Certainly that is the
way the Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi portrayed himself at his
trial. Obama's perception of him as an anticolonial resister would
explain why he gave tacit approval for this murderer of hundreds of
Americans to be released from captivity.
Finally, nasa. No explanation other than anticolonialism makes sense of
Obama's curious mandate to convert a space agency into a Muslim and
international outreach. We can see how well our theory works by recalling
the moon landing of Apollo 11 in 1969. "One small step for
man," Neil Armstrong said. "One giant leap for
But that's not how the rest of the world saw it. I was 8 years old at the
time and living in my native India. I remember my grandfather telling me
about the great race between America and Russia to put a man on the moon.
Clearly America had won, and this was one giant leap not for mankind but
for the U.S. If Obama shares this view, it's no wonder he wants to blunt
nasa's space program, to divert it from a symbol of American greatness
into a more modest public relations program.
Clearly the anticolonial ideology of Barack Obama Sr. goes a long way to
explain the actions and policies of his son in the Oval Office. And we
can be doubly sure about his father's influence because those who know
Obama well testify to it. His "granny" Sarah Obama (not his
real grandmother but one of his grandfather's other wives) told
Newsweek, "I look at him and I see all the same things--he
has taken everything from his father. The son is realizing everything the
father wanted. The dreams of the father are still alive in the
In his own writings Obama stresses the centrality of his father not only
to his beliefs and values but to his very identity. He calls his memoir
"the record of a personal, interior journey--a boy's search for his
father and through that search a workable meaning for his life as a black
American." And again, "It was into my father's image, the black
man, son of Africa, that I'd packed all the attributes I sought in
myself." Even though his father was absent for virtually all his
life, Obama writes, "My father's voice had nevertheless remained
untainted, inspiring, rebuking, granting or withholding approval. You do
not work hard enough, Barry. You must help in your people's struggle.
Wake up, black man!"
The climax of Obama's narrative is when he goes to Kenya and weeps at his
father's grave. It is riveting: "When my tears were finally
spent," he writes, "I felt a calmness wash over me. I felt the
circle finally close. I realized that who I was, what I cared about, was
no longer just a matter of intellect or obligation, no longer a construct
of words. I saw that my life in America--the black life, the white life,
the sense of abandonment I'd felt as a boy, the frustration and hope I'd
witnessed in Chicago--all of it was connected with this small piece of
earth an ocean away, connected by more than the accident of a name or the
color of my skin. The pain that I felt was my father's
In an eerie conclusion, Obama writes that "I sat at my father's
grave and spoke to him through Africa's red soil." In a sense,
through the earth itself, he communes with his father and receives his
father's spirit. Obama takes on his father's struggle, not by recovering
his body but by embracing his cause. He decides that where Obama Sr.
failed, he will succeed. Obama Sr.'s hatred of the colonial system
becomes Obama Jr.'s hatred; his botched attempt to set the world right
defines his son's objective. Through a kind of sacramental rite at the
family tomb, the father's struggle becomes the son's birthright.
Colonialism today is a dead issue. No one cares about it except the man
in the White House. He is the last anticolonial. Emerging market
economies such as China, India, Chile and Indonesia have solved the
problem of backwardness; they are exploiting their labor advantage and
growing much faster than the U.S. If America is going to remain on top,
we have to compete in an increasingly tough environment.
But instead of readying us for the challenge, our President is trapped in
his father's time machine. Incredibly, the U.S. is being ruled according
to the dreams of a Luo tribesman of the 1950s. This philandering,
inebriated African socialist, who raged against the world for denying him
the realization of his anticolonial ambitions, is now setting the
nation's agenda through the reincarnation of his dreams in his son. The
son makes it happen, but he candidly admits he is only living out his
father's dream. The invisible father provides the inspiration, and the
son dutifully gets the job done. America today is governed by a