Obama Sr. Bruce L.R. Smith

The author takes issue with Dinesh D’Souza’s piece about how President Obama’s current policies were shaped by his father. Smith knew Obama, Sr. personally if not closely and presents him as a serious liberal intellectual with a somewhat quirky sense of humor. Obama Sr. was not, as D’Souza claims, an anti-colonialist. Rather, Obama Sr. was a reasonable man who spoke out against tribal politics and corruption. Where D’Souza sees rage in President Obama’s “Dreams from My Father,” Smith sees a pragmatic, cerebral sense of injustice. Perhaps this detachment has been instrumental in Obama’s ability to incite anger from various political coalitions. Smith concludes that conservatives have their reasons for criticizing the president, but the portrait D’Souza paints does not aid political discussions.

The writer is a retired senior staff member of the Brookings Institution and now a visiting professor at George Mason University’s School of Public Policy.

Link to full text in primary source.