They went to the unusual length of arranging a focus group to test anti-Obama films. Conducted by Frank Luntz, the well-known Republican research analyst, a 30-person focus group looked at three choices: Dinesh D’Souza’s “2016: Obama’s America,” which theorizes that the president’s political beliefs were shaped by the radical “anticolonial” views of his Kenyan father; “The Hope and the Change,” a softer critique of the president that features interviews with disaffected former Obama supporters; and “Dreams From My Real Father,” which posits the implausible theory that the president’s real father is Mr. Davis, and that Mr. Davis indoctrinated him with Marxist views early on.Left (surprisingly?) unsaid in all this: whether or not the films were flatly untrue was of no apparent concern. For that matter, whether or not the films were the most wretched, conspiratorial slanders you could imagine did not particularly concern them either:
Focus groups were revolted by “Dreams From My Real Father,” with its conspiracy theory paranoia and dubious evidence. It compares photos of the president and Mr. Davis, noting that they have similar noses and freckles. It also purports to have uncovered nude photos of Mr. Obama’s mother in a bondage magazine.Translation: They knew it was a rancid pile of conspiratorial, lying dung—but they still wanted to know if showing it to people would work. The conservative movement is now focus grouping its conspiracy theories to see which ones to promote to voters.
Mr. Luntz’s clients were not surprised. Their thinking was, “I want to know if it’s as bad as I think it is,” Mr. Luntz said.
The conservatives in this case are, unsurprisingly, left unidentified. That is a shame, because I think if someone is going to all the trouble of focus grouping which lies they would most like to finance and distribute to the American people in order to influence an election, I really think the American people ought to be given the privilege of knowing which of America's top odious crapsacks are behind such a thing. For one thing, they clearly need their taxes raised to the point where they no longer have money to spend on such hobbies. (Frank Luntz, for his part, continues his noble career of explaining, for money, how to most effectively lie to people; surely, there needs to be an award given someday for his own contribution to our new political landscape.)
As it turns out, of course, all three films are making the rounds. D'Souza's nutcase film has received plenty of attention, or at least did until D'Souza botched it all up by forgetting that his fellow conservative crackpots weren't quite as keen on adultery as he had presumed they were. The Hope and the Change, chose as the least repulsive by Frank Luntz's guinea pigs, is being shown to voters on local cable stations. And the ultra-insane crackpot one is being mailed out to voters as well, thanks to other anonymous conservative financiers. There doesn't seem to be any problem getting a steady stream of cash for promoting whatever conspiracy theories might need promoting.