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.

 

Dinesh D’Souza’s Ethical Lacuna – UPDATED

UPDATE: Not really a surprise – D’Souza resigns as president of King’s College.

UPDATE 2: Apparently, D’Souza’s current fiancee’ is/was also married as of April, 2012. If you want some more irony, check out her blog at Smart Girl Politics – Give a Guy Enough Rope and He’ll Hang Himself.

More information about Mrs. Odie Joseph…

Here she complains about the effects of divorce.

I think this is the last thing for awhile. The lovely young lady would be Mrs. Denise Odie Joseph, D’Souza’s fiancee, on her blog asking the musical question…

………….

This isn’t good.

World Magazine reported Tuesday (see link above) that King’s College president Dinesh D’Souza is or was engaged to a woman while still married to his wife. D’Souza who has been a vocal critic of gay marriage has been estranged from his wife for a couple of years according to the World report.

Normally, I would not say much about personal issues but I am very interested to see how evangelical leaders handle this. D’Souza has a very high profile among evangelicals and conservatives as the president of King’s College. His opposition to gay marriage and conservatism on social issues makes his reasoning on his own situation noteworthy. And on that point, consider what he told Fox News yesterday about his relationship with Ms. Denise Joseph:

I sought out advice about whether it is legal to be engaged prior to being divorced and I was informed that it is. Denise and I were trying to do the right thing. I had no idea that it is considered wrong in Christian circles to be engaged prior to being divorced, even though in a state of separation and in divorce proceedings.  Obviously I would not have introduced Denise as my fiancé at a Christian apologetics conference if I had thought or known I was doing something wrong. But as a result of all this, and to avoid even the appearance of impropriety, Denise and I have decided to suspend our engagement.

Consider now that this Bill Clintonesque reasoning comes from the president of an evangelical college. He didn’t know it was wrong? This lacuna in his understanding, if indeed he is sincere, is as disturbing as anything else being reported on this story. I am certainly not inclined to give much weigh to his reasoning on other matters.

Please don’t get me wrong. I am not D’Souza’s judge. But evangelicals are often so quick to judge others while excusing themselves. And then as a group, evangelicals wonder why those outside the fold are skeptical and dismiss our judgments.