In recent weeks, conservative operatives have been audience-testing a new Obama documentary that purports to the the real truth about the president’s background. “Dreams From My Real Father: A Story of Reds and Deception” is a real hatchet job, as you might expect, but this time, Obama the Muslim is not the target. Nor is Obama the Commie, Obama the Fraud or Obama the Alien from Outer Space. (I made that last one up.) This time, it’s Obama’s mom. Or, if you’re to believe the film’s producers, it’s Obama’s slutty mom.
To call “Dreams From My Real Father” a documentary is actually giving it a little bit too much credit. Based on what we know about the film, it sounds like a half-hatched, tin-foil hat conspiracy theory burned onto a DVD and sent around to hundreds of thousands, if not millions of likely voters. Masterminded by Joel Gilbert, “whose previous claims include having tracked down Elvis Presley in the witness protection program and discovering that Paul McCartney is in fact dead,” according to The New York Times, and makes the absurd claim that Obama’s father is not actually his father. The film claims that the president is actually the illegitimate child of his mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, and Communist Party loyalist Frank Marshall Davis. (Okay, so it is sort of about Obama the Commie, after all.) One way that Gilbert tries to prove the connection is by pointing out similarities in Davis and Obama’s noses and freckles. It feels just one stupid comment short of the racist notion that “all black people look alike.”
That’s actually not the most offensive part of the film. Instead of actually dwelling on how Obama’s supposed long lost Communist father provoked the president into steering America’s economy off the edge of a cliff, Gilbert’s film just goes after her mom. Besides calling Dunham a whore (more or less) it claims to have uncovered nude photos of Obama’s mother, an old Internet rumor that’s never come close to being proven. It even claims that Davis took the photos and sold them to men’s magazines.
This is drawing from the same well as Dinesh D’Souza, whose best-selling bundle of crackpot conspiracy theories has actually made it to the top of the New York Times bestseller list. “Ann's sexual adventuring may seem a little surprising in view of the fact that she was a large woman who kept getting larger,” writes D’Souza, who calls Dunham “the real playgirl” in the Obama family. He adds, “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.”
Crazy conspiracy theories are nothing new in the Obama narrative, but folks like Gilbert are going for the jugular, appealing to undecided voters in the top battleground states. Gilbert says that he’s sent four million DVDs of “Dreams of My Real Father” to voters in Ohio and Florida and has plans to send more. He refused to discuss the specifics of his operations funding, but a similar DVD was produced by the famously wealthy conservative political advocacy group Citizens United. Whether you’re an Obama fan or simply an advocate for the truth, you might be concerned that this movie could actually influence the election, which pollsters say has a 50 percent chance of being decided in Ohio. The New York Times talked to at least one voter who received the film, and if she’s representative of its broader reception, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about. One Florida voter got a copy of “Dreams of My Real Father” in the mail and went into it with an open mind. “I thought, well, I'll take a look and see what it is,” she said. “But then it got to the part about the president's mother, and I was like, O.K., I can't even watch this anymore. This is just something a bunch of crackpots put together.”
Don’t tell Gilbert. He has no plans of abandoning his delusions of grandeur. When he talked to the paper of record, Gilbert said, “I hope you're not angry or jealous that I beat you to it and might win the Pulitzer Prize.”