Hillary's America review – Dinesh D'Souza says: beware racist Democrat super-villains

The political commentator’s contribution to the 2016 presidential campaign is a paranoid film driven by one ‘secret fact’ – that the Democratic party has twisted US history in a dastardly cause

Dinesh D’Souza learned a thing. He stumbled upon the fact that, to put it in the most reductive way, the Republicans used to be the good guys when it came to the issue of racial equality in America.

I remember when I discovered this – maybe it was the same week in school I read that the Soviet Union was an American ally during the second world war – and I was somehow able to grasp that, ah, things change, and labels are semantics, and the concepts that bind a political party then might not be the same ones that bind them now.

Not D’Souza. The fact that the Democrats of history did not fight to abolish slavery has shattered his mind into smithereens, and he’s just got to let everybody know, and let them know with a pretend-confused look on his puss that exudes bad faith. One would think it’s impossible to hang an entire movie on this purposely misunderstood fact, and to weaponize it against the Democratic frontrunner’s campaign, but we do live in weird political times. When a simpleton like D’Souza shows determination it is often best to get out of the way just to see how far it goes. Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party is the cinematic equivalent of a drunk man at a sports bar sucking back whole jalapeño peppers hoping for applause without ever being dared. The amusement in watching doesn’t compensate for the pity one feels for someone so desperate for attention.

Watch a trailer for Hillary’s America

Hillary’s America opens with a strangely robotic recreation of D’Souza’s trial and incarceration for campaign finance fraud before launching into a montage of “truths” that were predicted by his last election-year screed, 2016: Obama’s America. The rise of Islamic State, Russian encroachment into the Ukraine and the diplomatic thaw with Cuba is just the tip of the iceberg if the Democrats stay in power, D’Souza suggests, and they likely will, because look what they do to those who dissent!

The film then dips into play-acting as D’Souza (an innocent man targeted by President Obama’s dirty tricks thugs!) negotiates his way through prison (an economical film-maker he, bundling his racial panic and his gay panic into the same gag) and tries to learn the ropes. His on-screen persona is as if lovable Mo Rocca were possessed by the demon spirit of Fox News cretin Sean Hannity. D’Souza’s acting coach has only one note: make like you are smelling rotten eggs. While kibitzing with a gang-banger named Rock he learns about ghetto pyramid schemes, and when he sees how the blacks and Latinos hiss at Republicans but cheer when Hillary Clinton announces she is running, he’s seized with a vision. The Democrats have been running a scam on all of us for so long: it is they who are racists, not the GOP!

The rapist and the Klan lover … Andrew Jackson, seventh president of the United States, left, and Woodrow Wilson, 28th president.
The ‘rapist’ and the ‘Klan lover’ … Andrew Jackson, seventh president of the United States, left, and Woodrow Wilson, 28th president. Composite: Universal History Archive/Getty Images/AP

We then kick into a lengthy sequence bopping through American history. Andrew Jackson, a Democrat, was a racist. If you want to see re-enactments of him raping his slaves, this is your opportunity. The civil war is reframed not as North v South, but Democrat v Republican. Woodrow Wilson practically combusted from excitement seeing the Ku Klux Klan-myth put to film in The Birth of A Nation. Annoyingly, each of these (horribly produced, shoddily acted) bullet points spring from a modicum of truth. What’s remarkable is how D’Souza steamrolls through the years of FDR and LBJ and states that the so-called “big switch” of Democratic and Republican ideologies is just a myth. He offers no cogent arguments for this, just states it as “secret fact” with the same conviction of a late-night DJ talking about UFOs.

But wait, that’s just half the movie! The real fun comes when we get to the present and Hillary Rodham Clinton, the conniving super-villain whose powers include harnessing her husband’s insatiable lust for vulnerable women for her own political gain. From a set meant to be the basement of the Clinton campaign (“all these emails...” he sighs, amid prop filing cabinets) D’Souza lists all the half-remembered scandals from the 1990s (it’s been a long time since I’ve heard “Travelgate”) and concludes with this howler: “Now we know why she ignored the calls from Benghazi. She couldn’t make a buck.”

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Super-villain … Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

As one who is prone to sleepless nights worrying about the possibility of a Trump presidency, I can’t deny that I have misgivings about the “enthusiasm gap” concerning the Democratic candidate. Clinton’s biggest selling point may still be that she’s anyone other than her opposition. But D’Souza’s dazed paranoia does something that might inadvertently get the harshest Bernie Bro tweeting #ImWithHer: it makes Clinton seem a little bit cool. Young Hillary heckles Nixon on TV from her dorm room and conspires with radical organizer Saul Alinsky to change the system “from within”. Alinsky is presented as a monster because he connived his way into some free meatloaf while he was penniless.

Dinesh D’Souza sifts the evidence … a scene from Hillary’s America The Secret History of the Democratic Party.
Dinesh D’Souza sifts the evidence … a scene from Hillary’s America The Secret History of the Democratic Party. Photograph: D'Souza Media

I’m leaving some parts out, but Hillary’s America is a film essay (I won’t call it a documentary) so demented that no synopsis could do it justice. It concludes that Obama and Clinton are the ones keeping African Americans poor in the inner cities, and that the only real Americans are Republicans. The Gatlin Brothers sing “I’m sick and tired of you stealing my money / to pay for jet airplanes and limousines / For crying out loud you think it’s funny / You and Bubba livin above my means!” as the credits roll. At least Larry Gatlin has a good voice. I don’t know what Dinesh D’Souza is good for.

  • Hillary’s America is released in the US on 22 July


Jordan Hoffman

The GuardianTramp

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