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Self-promotion, antics and smears

September 17, 2010 - Jim Anderson

There’s a new cover story in Forbes that’s creating a buzz.

Titled “How Obama Thinks,” it’s written by Dinesh D'Souza, who tries to lay out a case for Barack Obama being the most antibusiness president in memory. D’Souza also tries to link the president to a belief in Kenyan “anti-colonialism.”

It’s a sloppy, spiteful piece of innuendo, but that hasn’t stopped Newt Gingrich from embracing it, much to the outrage of the liberal establishment.

Columbia Journalism Review has called it a “fact-twisting, error-laden piece of paranoia ... a singularly disgusting work.”

Nonetheless, in Obama Conspiracy Cottage Industry Smear World, it’s a two-fer: Obama is bad for the economy because he’s anti-American.

I couldn’t help but notice that its first ditty is ripped from Glenn Beck’s playlist.

D'Souza cites a decision last year by the U.S. Export-Import Bank to offer, with Obama’s backing, $2 billion in loans and guarantees to Brazil’s state-owned oil company Petrobras to finance off-shore drilling near Rio de Janeiro.

This is an old complaint. The charge gathered steam from an e-mail that circulated in the summer of 2009. It resurfaced, thanks to Fox’s Beck, this past summer.

The original e-mail was addressed by factcheck.org in September 2009 under the heading “Bogus Brazilian Oil Claims.”

The U.S. Export-Import Bank is an independent, self-sustaining federal agency. It receives no appropriations from Congress. It’s existed more than 75 years. Its stated goal is to help “create and maintain U.S. jobs by financing the sale of U.S. exports, primarily to emerging markets throughout the world, by providing loan guarantees, export-credit insurance and direct loans.”

Sounds patriotic enough.

In Obama Conspiracy Cottage Industry Smear World, however, it’s a communist plot.

“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,” D’Souza speculates.

When factcheck.org addressed this issue — a year ago — it pointed out that the loan was first approved by appointees of George W. Bush.

The loan received unanimous support from the bank’s board in April 2009, before any of Obama’s appointees were seated. Its purpose was to help Brazil buy U.S.-made equipment and services. And, of course, increase global oil production in the global market.

In June 2010, with controversy raging over the BP spill and the subsequent moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf, Beck decided to dust off the Brazilian smear and focus on another of that old e-mail’s claims.

The loan, he told viewers, was evidence of a conspiracy to enrich liberal political activist George Soros. Under Beck’s timetable, the billionaire Soros increased his investment in Petrobras just days before his pal Obama signed off on the loan.

“Billionaire dumps money in Brazilian oil company; days later the American administration dumps $2 billion in the exact same company,” Beck intoned. “What are the odds, Gilligan?”

As noted by factcheck.org — again, in September 2009 — no presidential order was required for loan. So if Soros was getting rich behind the scenes, it would seem he had the Bush appointees — or maybe Thurston B. Howell III — to thank.

Besides, Soros increased his holdings in Petrobras in the fourth quarter of 2008 (while Bush was in office) and reduced them in May 2009 and again in August 2009, and before any loan funds were actually disbursed.

Meanwhile, best as I can tell, the loan’s potential has since grown to $10 billion.

But what do I know?

Only what I can find on the same Web that’s available to Glenn Beck and Dinesh D'Souza.

Recently, a reader chastised The Daily News for publishing a cartoon that made light of Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally in Washington D.C.

Obviously, the reader said, no one at the newspaper took the time to watch the event on C-SPAN. If we had, we would have realized that program had no political rhetoric and was in no way racist.

I agree. (I would also note that we publish anti-Obama cartoons as regularly as the Cubs lose baseball games.)

I remember the Saturday of Beck’s rally. There were a lot of distractions. A day, I recall, when the cat crept off to hide in the basement. But with the aid of closed-captioning, I kept an eye on Beck.

Some observers have compared his performance to that of an evangelical preacher.

One part of the speech/sermon that jumped out was Beck exhorting his audience to tell the truth, tell the truth.

Even, Beck said, if the truth conflicts with where you stand.

It was all good.

And when it was over, it was all the same.

Beck went back to his Obama Conspiracy Cottage Industry Smear World office and asked himself, “How might I grease the president today?”

 
 

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