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Discerning Obama's America
Discerning Obama's America

Ideological political documentaries in election years are nothing new. A few have crossed the threshold to box office success, but most are lost to obscurity. Anyone remember 2004's Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry?

Al Gore found a recipe for success in 2006 with his Academy Award-winning An Inconvenient Truth. Michael Moore has made a name for himself with a series of films that extol liberal themes and uncover alleged conspiracies. Moore's biggest blockbuster, the 2004 release Fahrenheit 9/11, was a scathing indictment of George W. Bush's foreign policy that grossed $119 million in theaters.

This year, the tables have turned, and a conservative documentary is raking in the dollars. The unlikely source is Dinesh D'Souza, who recently moved from the world of conservative think tanks to the presidency of a Christian college.

D'Souza has built a career writing ideological and polemical books and sparring in debates. A public intellectual who is quite gifted in his craft, D'Souza is a sharp and pointed writer who makes forceful arguments. He also knows how to evoke strong reactions and capture attention.

D'Souza is more polished than Michael Moore and makes smarter arguments, but he borrows many pages from the controversial liberal filmmaker's playbook. D'Souza follows Moore's formula by releasing the film in an election year and tailoring his message and emotive appeals to draw a particular ideological segment of the electorate.

Like Moore, D'Souza makes himself the central figure of his film. Not only does he narrate the film, he portrays himself on an intellectual journey that he invites the audience to share. As he presents his rather inventive retelling ...

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Discerning Obama's America
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September 2012

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