RURAL ROUTES/Margot Ford McMillen

‘Obama 2016’: Ominous Shadows from the Right

While I’m one for voting your issue rather than voting partisan, looks like this year the Ds will get my votes, even though I could write a pretty good column about their failures and my disappointments in them. My issues being sustainable development, local food and agriculture, education and peace, there’s no R candidate I can back. The Rs are all talking expansion, empire, big ag, and, lordy lordy, cutting funds for education.

For a clear picture of who wants what, I went with my neighborhood ladies to a showing of Obama 2016. That’s the film by right-wing ideologue and pop psychologist Dinesh D'Souza that’s supposed to reveal the horrors of the Obama administration. But, besides the fact that I paid $6 to enrich filmmakers from the irresponsible side of the aisle, their arguments were so lame that I found the film pretty comforting.

It had been a long time since I’ve been in a big movie theatre. How do they stay in business with only seven viewers in a big hall? And, did you know that you pump your own greasy stuff on the popcorn these days? That’s probably saved the big chain a dollar in high-school kid employment.

After putting in ear plugs, I could tolerate the decibel level, which is designed for folks who have spent a lot of time in loud movie theaters. And when did they start running ads before the films? There was a cute ad about cookies, with the theme, “When enemies can get along cordially ...” There’s a point for Obama right there in the ad, as the feature was going to tell us that he meets with — gasp! — actual Muslims!

But, besides the throbbing bass of the Fox News-style background music, there was a lot of good news. Turns out Obama’s an American, for one thing! All those questions about his birth certificate — settled! Although, as the narrator points out in an ominous voice, he was raised at the time of anti-colonialism in Hawaii. That, to the filmmakers, explains a lot. Obama’s collaborative efforts with other world leaders are a real problem to the far right audience they wanted to reach.

There was a lot of footage about the family. Obama’s father had multiple marriages, was abusive, and a drunk driver. And he didn’t stick around to raise the kid.

Well, what else is new? We’re talking about America here, people!

And there was a long piece about a half-brother, in Kenya, a good-looking fellow who said he didn’t expect handouts from America, no matter how many times the interviewer insisted that he should get them, on the basis of helping out family. The half-brother who didn’t want handouts said that if he has any envy at all, it’s for African nations that experienced longer periods of colonialism. South Africa was his favorite. He says South Africa has more progress than Kenya. Now there’s an example of how long people remember things. Kenyans have already forgotten Apartheid.

In fact, the benefits of colonialism, which the filmmaker (an Indian American) relates to the American way, are a major theme of the movie. He points out that US independence had something to do with our anti-colonial actions a couple of centuries ago, but sees empire as an American necessity now, since we need the resources. That, to me, is a great argument for building a sustainable future.

In general, the film reaches for support in strange ways. It spends some minutes on what they claim was Obama’s first act in office — returning a bust of Winston Churchill to the British. Somehow, according to the filmmakers, this was a foreshadowing of the moment that Obama sided with Argentina regarding the Falklands. It’s the annihilation of the empire … see?

Then, the arguments took on a life of their own.

NASA, went the rhetoric, had been turned into an anti-American organization bent on reconciling with Muslims. Don’t ask too many questions about that assertion, you won’t find the answers in the film.

The Prez, intoned the narrator, supports the Occupy movement “so strongly.” And, by slashing America’s nuclear arsenal, Obama makes us vulnerable. That’s right, friends, we’ll soon be down to the capability of killing everything on the planet one time instead of the five time capability we had back when you built your bomb shelter.

And — here’s my favorite — since 2007, Americans have lost 40% of our wealth. I’m not even going to dignify that with a comment.

As the film proceeded, there were quick cuts of ominous, shadowy images worthy of an ad for anti-depressants, and the music became louder and more insistent. “What will America be like in 2016 if he’s re-elected?” asked the narrator, “We haven’t seen the real Obama yet.” Quick cut to a $1 bill with the words “United States of Islam” over the picture of George Washington. Fade, ominously.

After the film, a bunch of us went to supper. We had hoped for a good dialogue over the facts presented. I had even taken notes during the film, hoping to stimulate discussion.

Alas, there was nothing to say.

Margot Ford McMillen farms and teaches English at a college in Fulton, Mo. She blogs at Email:

From The Progressive Populist, October 15, 2012

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