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When he couldn’t get the case thrown out on that basis, he pleaded guilty and claimed to take responsibility for his actions. He is eminently likable in person: courteous, avuncular, chatty, quick to laugh, and willing to lay himself open to ridicule.
The act might have earned him points with the judge, who had the discretion to ignore the sentencing guidelines (from 10 to 16 months of incarceration), but D’Souza seemed to squander the judge’s goodwill by publicly and repeatedly announcing that he was a victim of political persecution. He’s also a doting father to an intelligent, polite 20-year-old daughter, who utterly reveres him.
But in his public life he’s pathologically drawn to pushing the bounds of civil discourse, often with a disinterest in backing up his assertions with facts.
While this approach has won him hundreds of thousands of fans of the Joe the Plumber variety, it has eaten away at his respectability in intellectual circles.
Many right-wing critics, including some at the Hoover Institution, hadn’t encountered such creative hypothesizing, and they were nearly unanimous in their appraisal—calling his arguments “dishonest,” “intellectually obtuse,” and “suicidal.”He recognizes that he may have gone overboard with his thesis. “I am attracted to arguments that have a certain plausible originality to them.” But he ascribes the criticism coming from his Hoover colleagues to jealousy. His intellectual allies were dwindling.), and he eventually gained entrée to the mega-church speaking circuit.
“There was a simmering resentment against me at Hoover,” he says. In venues such as Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church, in Orange County, which claims to have more than 20,000 congregants, D’Souza says he was selling 800 books in a day.
Once a wunderkind of the conservative elite, Dinesh D’Souza has made a fortune with increasingly wild-eyed books and documentaries, including one about Obama’s “rage.” Now serving time for campaign-finance fraud, D’Souza says he is being punished for his beliefs. M., and Dinesh D’Souza—political pundit, writer, documentary-film maker, and onetime wunderkind of the intellectual elite—was dining in his new haunt: the Subway sandwich shop in National City, San Diego, a downtrodden Latino neighborhood about 20 miles from the Mexican border. Indeed, in his glasses, striped sweater over a polo shirt, and clean sneakers, D’Souza looked as if he were heading for a start-up rollout event instead of a community confinement center a few minutes away, where he is serving an eight-month sentence during nighttime hours. Upon entering the center’s fluorescent-lit, low-ceilinged building, situated across from a pungent recycling dump, he would be given a Breathalyzer test and patted down.
He ordered his usual: six-inch whole-wheat sub with tuna salad and provolone. The rest of his evening would look something like this: He would check in to the confinement center at P. He would join about 90 other residents, mostly Latino.
He riffed on “widely different personalities” developed during slavery—“the playful Sambo, the sullen ‘field nigger,’ the dependable Mammy, the sly and inscrutable trickster”—that, he claimed, were “still recognizable.” It was another best-seller, but this time the press denounced it as insensitive. So I don’t owe you anything.’ ” He ditched Washington for his wife’s hometown of San Diego and got a job at the Hoover Institution, Stanford’s conservative think tank.
Few members of the media elite, he complains, have been willing to publicly defend him.
Even as a kid, D’Souza demonstrated versions of these two sides—the hopeful immigrant, determined to excel, and the attention-seeking pest. The ways of the Northeast elite were totally alien to him, but he quickly found a group of students that would become his “surrogate family” and unleash his inner frat-boy knucklehead.
Certain that the Obama administration is waiting for him to slip up, he wouldn’t risk being late, which is why he eats near the facility and not at his home, 20 miles away in La Jolla, where he is free to spend the day (though he may not leave the confines of San Diego County).
After using one of the stalls of his communal bathroom, he would enter the open-plan sleeping quarters and climb onto a top bunk, above a 400-pound guy who, “when he moves, the whole bunk bed shakes.” He would do his best to focus on his book and to block out the conversation. I’ll hear four guys discussing the tits on the woman at Los Tacos. I’m just powerless to move.”D’Souza reports on his new living situation with high energy and a matter-of-fact bemusement punctuated by an eager, slightly dorky laugh—which is odd, given his grim circumstances. At one point, he was facing up to two years in prison, though he ultimately got eight months in a halfway house, plus community service, and a ,000 fine.