Why is it that crackpottery gets attention?

Published 9:52 am Thursday, September 16, 2010

Kathleen Parker, A Little Sanity

Of course I knew it all along. President Barack Obama is a Kenyan anti-colonialist and that’s why he doesn’t get us. He’s a ticked-off African.

So goes the latest in Obama-theory, originated by the usually rational conservative thinker Dinesh D’Souza and endorsed by none other than Newt Gingrich, Republican anarchist and one-time speaker of the House of Representatives.

Kathleen Parker

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Cue soundtrack to “Twilight Zone.” Or “Psycho.” Or, I dunno, Tarzan summoning an elephant stampede to quash yet another pestilential imperial invasion.

Actually, scratch that. Call in the shrinks and bring out the couch. If a political season can jump the shark, we have an eye-popping new exhibit for SeaWorld.

What’s next? Obama is an extraterrestrial pod deposited on Planet Earth to occupy a human shell, and get elected leader of the free world so that he can lull the population into complacent dependency in advance of a full invasion of body snatchers?

Why not? It’s as good as any other theory. Why not go full-throttle into crackpottery? From Gainesville to Ground Zero, it’s all the rage.

D’Souza’s theory, which appeared in a Forbes magazine article, was an attempt to understand Obama’s failure to relate to mainstream America. This is not a unique obsession. We all take different routes in trying to solve the riddle of the sphinx. Of course, the operating premise is that Obama doesn’t “get us” only to the extent that his policies are in discord with what we believe he should be doing.

In fact, most Americans view both the president and Congress just this way. A recent Gallup poll found that most Americans disapprove of just about everything Congress has done during the Obama presidency. It is not strange to wonder, how come?

How come Obama and his cronies insist on advancing a set of policies with which a majority of Americans disagree? D’Souza — and apparently Gingrich — sees a genetic disconnect driving the president. Obama, son of a Kenyan intellectual (or goat herder, depending on the narrative du jour), absorbed the anti-colonial imperative. Never mind that his father left him when he was 2 and then saw him only once more when Obama was 10. In this Republican revenge fantasy, the American president is meting out delayed justice to the ignorant offspring of European oppressors.

D’Souza found sustenance for his proposition in Obama’s 2009 support for oil drilling off the coast of Brazil, but not in America. Hmmmm.

“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,” wrote D’Souza.

But of course, affirmed Gingrich. How perfectly clear. The Export-Import Bank of the United States gave preliminary approval for a $2 billion loan to Brazil’s state oil company, Petrobras. Voila — Kenyan retribution at work.

Except that at the time of the approval, just shortly after Obama took office, the bank’s board was fitted with five George W. Bush appointees. As reported by Slate and the myth-busting Snopes, such approvals are generally to encourage purchases of U.S. goods by Petrobras. And, alas, the $2 billion was mostly private money.

Who knows what tricks the summer heat plays on the human mind, but fevered theories have enjoyed a fertile reception this season. I have theories of my own, of course, though none quite so exotic. In rehearsal for our upcoming CNN show, “ParkerSpitzer,” co-anchor Eliot Spitzer and I interviewed two psychiatrists to help explain why Obama can’t seem to connect with the American people.

Their take: He likes relating to people on positives — hope and change — but can’t relate to anger. He steers clear of negatives. This probably has far more to do with the adaptations he made as a child navigating a disruptive childhood than with any anti-colonial sentiments he might have absorbed while wondering where his father was.

We may never get to the bottom of Barack Obama, but we are fast getting to the bottom of the barrel in trying to sort things out. The last thing Republicans need as they approach a winning season is to be routing around in the ancient histories of black vs. white on the African continent.

It’s the time to move on, gentlemen. There’s nothing here of any benefit, whatsoever.

Kathleen Parker writes for the Washington Post. Her e-mail address is kathleenparker@washpost.com.