Felonious Bunk: The Outrageous Pardon of Dinesh D’Souza

Oh, great. Now he’s going to make another unwatchable documentary.

With his shameful pardon of ultraconservative writer and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza, Donald Trump has sunk to new lows in terms of the abuse of his power–and has elevated D’Souza’s star power on the right to new heights. D’Souza will now be more insufferable than ever–and more successful than ever, as well.

Just a day after his pardon, it was clear that D’Souza couldn’t keep his ego under control:

Dinesh D’Souza, the conservative author and filmmaker pardoned by President Trump, claimed victory on Friday over what he characterized as a political prosecution by the administration of President Barack Obama.

In terms that evidently resonated with Mr. Trump, who is aggrieved about investigations that he blames on his predecessor, Mr. D’Souza presented himself as a victim of selective justice, hounded by Mr. Obama’s attorney general, Eric H. Holder Jr., and the United States attorney in New York, Preet Bharara, because he made a movie sharply critical of Mr. Obama.

“What happened here is Obama and his team, Eric Holder, Preet Bharara in New York, these guys decided to make an example of me, and I think that the reason for this was Obama’s anger over my movie that I made about him,” Mr. D’Souza said on “Fox and Friends,” one of Mr. Trump’s favorite shows.

“And so, this was a vindictive political hit that was kind of aimed at putting me out of business, essentially making — destroying my credibility, making it impossible for me to make movies, write books, and that since has failed. But it still left a cloud over me,” he added. “I would be a lifelong felon. I would never be able to vote and never have my full rights.”

Mr. D’Souza pleaded guilty in 2014 to making illegal campaign contributions to Wendy E. Long, a college friend running for Senate from New York as a Republican. He reimbursed others for making $20,000 in gifts to her campaign in what are called straw donations to evade contribution limits. He was fined $30,000 and sentenced to five years probation, including eight months in a supervised “community confinement center.”

Mr. D’Souza acknowledged during the court proceedings that he knew what he was doing was wrong and apologized for it. In the Fox interview on Friday, he said he agreed to plead guilty because prosecutors added a second charge that allowed them to threaten a possible five-year prison term, what he called a “kind of legal bludgeoning tactic.”

“Bludgeoning tactics” have been the hallmark of D’Souza’s career in commentary. Remember his vile 1995 book The End of Racism, which promoted the idea that “liberal antiracism” was more harmful to nonwhite Americans than white supremacy? (Mocking “liberal antiracism” was as popular on the right in the 1990s as mocking “social justice warriors” is today.) As the late, legendary Washington Post columnist William Raspberry observed shortly after the book’s publication:

And just what is it D’Souza has done? He has written (though he would deny it most vehemently) what amounts to a defense of racism. [He argues that] slavery wasn’t all that bad a deal for black folk, and besides, there was nothing racial about it. Segregation was created by the southern ruling class “to protect blacks.” Only “an infinitesimal fraction of the black population” was lynched. And as for the lower status of blacks in the American society and elsewhere, he suggests that “a natural hierarchy of racial abilities would predict and fully account for such” a phenomenon.

It can be argued that D’Souza was the godfather of the so-called “intellectual dark web” of right-wingers who get off on promoting the most obnoxious ideas possible in an effort to offend progressive sensibilities. D’Souza started off this decade by publishing The Roots of Obama’s Rage, which put forth the notion that Obama’s governing ideology was “anti-colonialism”–a notion that Newt Gingrich notoriously embraced. The fact that this guy received a pardon he didn’t deserve, and will now have a greater media platform he also doesn’t deserve, should be at the root of our rage.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.