Donald Trump tweeted earlier this morning that he was planning on pardoning Dinesh D’Souza, a racist right-wing political author and pundit convicted of violating campaign finance law in 2014.
Will be giving a Full Pardon to Dinesh D’Souza today. He was treated very unfairly by our government!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 31, 2018
D’Souza has already completed his eight-month sentence of community confinement but was still on the hook for completing eight hours of community service a week. D’Souza was convicted of using “straw donors”—reimbursing his friends for their maximum contributions—to help the senate candidacy of his friend, Wendy Long.
D’Souza plead guilty, saying he knew what he was doing was illegal and wrong, but still claimed he was being mistreated by the government. (The judge called that “nonsense” and “spin.”)
Before he pleaded guilty in 2014, @DineshDSouza told a federal judge: “I knew that causing the campaign contributions to be made in the name of another was wrong, and something the law forbids. I deeply regret my conduct.” pic.twitter.com/29IjpcxvRl
— Brad Heath (@bradheath) May 31, 2018
Dinesh D’Souza is the second vocal birther pardoned by President Trump. Former sheriff Joe Arpaio, now a candidate for the Senate, was granted clemency even before he had exhausted his appeals options.
— Elise Foley (@elisefoley) May 31, 2018
D’souza is emblematic of the moral and intellectual rot of the Republican Party and how this decline accelerated during the Obama years. His rise and fall and resurrection as a conspiracy theorist bear the hallmarks of the careers of similar right-wing luminaries-turned-grifters, including the president himself.
Once a well-respected conservative author who at least feigned intellectual honesty, D’Souza quickly learned you could sell just as many books (or more) simply by race-baiting and indulging the unhinged fantasies of the right-wing fever swamp. He was also roundly ridiculed by intellectual elites in both parties (sound familiar?) for post-9/11 book The Enemy Within that blamed left-wing political and cultural movements for the 2001 terrorist attacks. In doing so he argued the right may have more in common with the radical religious fundamentalists who perpetrated the attacks.
Then he lost his position at the Christian King’s College after the then-married D’Souza was found to be cavorting with a much younger woman and introducing her as his fiancé around the same time as his campaign finance conviction.
His 2010 book The Roots Of Obama’s Rage fueled the birther movement in its attempt to rewrite the 44th president’s biography and cast him as a Kenyan anti-colonialist above all else. “Obama views Muslims who are fighting against America in Iraq and Afghanistan as freedom fighters, somewhat akin to Indians or Kenyans fighting to push out their British colonial occupier,” he wrote.
If calling Obama a terrorist sympathizer was too subtle, D’Souza came back in 2012 with a lazy diatribe titled Obama’s America, in which he basically claims Obama is purposefully hurting America and basically called his mother a fat slut.
Michelle Goldberg wrote this about the book,
D’Souza argues that part of the reason Ann Dunham sent Obama to live with her parents in Hawaii was so she could pursue affairs with Indonesian men. “Ann’s sexual adventuring may seem a little surprising in view of the fact that she was a large woman who kept getting larger,” he writes. On the next page, he continues, “Learning about Ann’s sexual adventures in Indonesia, I realized how wrong I had been to consider Barack Obama Sr. the playboy … Ann … was the real playgirl, and despite all her reservations about power, she was using her American background and economic and social power to purchase the romantic attention of third-world men.”
There is no evidence for any of this—D’Souza mentions the name of exactly one man who Dunham had a relationship with after her divorce.
D’Souza also wrote, “Obama is not merely the presiding instrument of American decline, he is the architect of American decline. He wants America to be downsized.” While the bizarre attack on Obama’s mother didn’t turn into a vehicle for Obama-bashing on the right, the idea that Obama was an enemy of the state certainly did. Who can forget Marco Rubio’s primary debate meltdown where he kept retreating to this idea, saying, “Let’s dispel this fiction once and for all that Barack Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing. He knows exactly what he’s doing; he’s undergoing a systematic effort to change this country and make America more like the rest of the world.”
And it’s been all downhill since then. D’Souza is now a “documentary filmmaker” producing lurid, misleading movies like 2016’s Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party which saddles Democrats with the blame for racism, the Ku Klux Klan, and more.
He’s also a prolific right-wing Twitter troll (sound familiar?), gleefully bashing any perceived opponent without any regard for morality, facts, or intellectual honesty.
This is the Republican Party in 2018. The same incentives that freed D’Souza to establish a second career as a racist, right-wing conspiracy theorist are just as bad if not worse than they were during Obama’s term. While Trump has deepened the rot and hastened its spread, it didn’t start with him and it won’t end once he’s no longer in office.