Washington, Oct. 19: The earliest aspirant to power and influence in the US as an Indian American in modern times fell from grace yesterday, hoist with his own petard of Christian conservatism and extreme right-wing morality.
Mumbai-born Dinesh D’Souza, a policy adviser to President Ronald Reagan, was forced to quit his million-dollar job as president of an evangelical Christian educational institution in New York after it came to light that he shared a hotel room overnight with a woman 22 years his junior during a conference to “restore… the Christian principles upon which the US was founded”.
D’Souza’s fall came at a time when his fame and influence were at their zenith in the current election season: his recent documentary, 2016: Obama’s America, became the choicest fodder for Obama-haters and grossed $33.4 million at the box office, according to latest estimates.
The figure ranks impressively against contemporary commercial releases. The anti-Obama documentary, which is a volatile mix of untruths and innuendoes that appeals to the rabid US south populated by rednecks, is now rated as the fourth-most successful documentary ever.
It was commercially released in more than 1,000 cinemas in the US just before the Republican National Convention which formally nominated Mitt Romney as the party’s presidential candidate and became a rallying call for right-wingers to mobilise and defeat Obama in the November 6 election.
Today, liberals across America are celebrating D’Souza’s fall, especially since it occurred over an extra-marital relationship by a man who made his career touting Christian social values.
As Obama struggles to win re-election, the Indian American’s self destruction is the second such treat for the President’s supporters in recent days. Jack Welch, the feisty former chairman of General Electric, gave up writing a column for Reuters and Fortune magazine 10 days ago after his infamous tweet suggesting that the Obama administration had manipulated America’s employment data for political purposes.
A day after the US Labor Department reported that unemployment had fallen in September to a nearly four-year low of 7.8 per cent, Welch tweeted: “Unbelievable jobs numbers… these Chicago guys will do anything… can’t debate so change numbers.”
Obama is from Chicago and his re-election campaign headquarters is based in that city. Chicago has a reputation for election manipulation going back to the time when it is widely believed that poll figures were twisted by influential city leaders of that time, with alleged links to criminal mobs, to enable John F. Kennedy to win election as President.
The September job figures were critical for Obama as they were released soon after his disastrous performance in his first debate against Romney. The suggestion by Welch that the Labor Department’s economists had allowed themselves to be manipulated for political purposes created a huge backlash.
It was exploited by Obama’s liberal supporters because Welch has given the maximum permissible individual contribution to Romney’s election funds and there has been speculation that the former GE head would join a presumptive Romney administration.
Welch is a lightning rod for trade unions and the Left since he cut 100,000 jobs at General Electric as its CEO to boost corporate profits, earning the nickname “Neutron Jack”.
Fifty-one-year-old D’Souza’s tryst with 29 year-old Denise Odie Joseph II in September was exposed by the World, an evangelical magazine, in which participants at the religion-inspired conference confided.
These participants were horrified that D’Souza, still married to Dixie Brubaker, his wife of 20 years, had introduced the 29 year-old as his fiancée. According to the World, Alex McFarland, a conference organiser, found the Indian American’s actions morally repugnant enough to confront D’Souza, who confessed that he spent the night with the woman.
D’Souza met Brubaker during his years in the Reagan White House where she was an intern and married her in 1992. They have one daughter.
Unfortunately for D’Souza, his undoing was that he tied himself up in knots in multiple interviews and in his own writing in the weeks after the hotel episode acquired a destructive momentum for him.
First, he filed for a divorce soon after the story broke, although D’Souza claims that he has been separated from Brubaker for two years now.
Then he was quoted as telling McFarland that “nothing happened” in the bedroom with Joseph. And since then D’Souza has said that his engagement with Jospeh has been called off. There is one version of events in which D’Souza denied having a shared a room with Joseph.
To make matters worse, the first version of a media release announcing D’Souza’s resignation yesterday acknowledged that his behaviour was not “consistent with the standard of leadership required for the position of president at The King’s College and… created a distraction that would make it difficult, if not impossible, to continue in my role without adversely affecting the students and school I have grown to love.”
A subsequent announcement by the college merely said D’Souza’s resignation was being accepted “to allow him to attend to his personal and family needs”.
D’Souza was educated at Mumbai’s Sydenham College from where he went to America under a Rotary exchange programme. His parents are Catholics from Goa but D’Souza has since abandoned Catholicism in favour of more radical tenets of Christianity.
An author of several best-selling books, D’Souza joined a White House where, unlike today, the only other Indian was Joy Cherian, whom Reagan appointed as member of his Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
His recent books which have made him a darling of the extreme right in this election season are The Roots of Obama’s Rage and Obama’s America: Unmaking the American Dream.