On page 201 of his book, D’Souza refers to Charles Bolden’s widely quoted remark that President Obama wanted his NASA director “to reach out to the Muslim world.” In the next paragraph, D’Souza says that Bolden’s remark “provoked consternation” among Neil Armstrong and other astronauts. Writing my review, I tried to find a reference to Armstrong’s consternation in Nexis and various data bases. I only found mentions of Armstrong’s consternation at the NASA budget cuts recommended by Obama and Bolden. D’Souza had evidently mixed up the two things – the Muslim-toadying, about which Armstrong was evidently silent, and the budget cuts, which ticked Armstrong off. Rather than make an issue of another factual error, I graciously assumed it was those cuts and the inevitable weakening of NASA that D’Souza was referring to when, on the next page, he wrote “no wonder he [Obama] wants to blunt NASA’s space program, to divert it from being a symbol of American greatness to a more modest public relations operation that build ties with Muslims and other peoples.”
On page 147, D’Souza writes: “Finally, addressing the TV cameras on May 14, 2010, Obama managed to work up some enthusiasm. Time and again, he condemned ‘British Petroleum’ – an interesting term since the company long ago changed its name to BP.” I’ll say it again: A transcript of Obama’s remarks from that occasion does not contain the words “British Petroleum.” Now in his letter, D’Souza concedes the error and adds, “But Obama did use the phrase in his subsequent comments.” This is quite a retreat from “time and again.” Indeed, a search of the White House database of presidential remarks over the last twenty months yields no reference from the president to “British Petroleum.” We’d expect to find at least one formal reference if Obama was on a concerted public relations campaign to remind Americans of BP’s colonial roots. Anyway, BP’s old name is standard usage for lots of us born before 1975. The point is too stupid to argue.
We all make mistakes. I should talk. But as I tried to point out in my review, the factual errors are the least of the problems with D’Souza and his book.