Conservative intellectual Dinesh D’Souza wows packed Republican crowd in Modesto

Dinesh D’Souza speaks at Modesto Republican Women Federated’s annual Ronald Regan fundraiser Saturday night at The Seasons in Modesto.
Dinesh D’Souza speaks at Modesto Republican Women Federated’s annual Ronald Regan fundraiser Saturday night at The Seasons in Modesto.

Complacency has hurt Republicans, but they could regain momentum by awakening and mobilizing against liberal “politics of envy, hatred and resentment,” nationally recognized conservative author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza told a packed audience of appreciative GOP faithful on Saturday.

“Our team is playing with marbles, while their team is at war,” said D’Souza, chastising his beloved party for falling asleep at the political wheel. “What can we do? There is a lot of influence in this room, if actually deployed.”

Modesto Republican Women Federated had no trouble selling out the club’s annual Ronald Reagan fundraiser despite virtually no formal advertising, thanks to the celebrity-status draw of D’Souza, a onetime adviser in the Reagan White House. His 16 books include national best-sellers “Illiberal Education,” “What’s So Great About America,” “The Roots of Obama’s Rage” and “America: Imagine a World Without Her,” and his movies attacking the president and extolling the United States are among the most successful documentaries in history.

“He’s our kind of guy,” said Jim DeMartini, a Stanislaus County supervisor and president of the local Republican Central Committee. He gave credit to the women’s club for luring “a big name like this.”

Before his speech, D’Souza, 54 – who attended a Catholic high school named St. Stanislaus in India before immigrating to the United States – told The Modesto Bee that giving talks is his living. Federated president Lydia Kanno said she was “so excited” to land a top-level speaker but would not say how much D’Souza was paid.

D’Souza wasted no time explaining to the crowd that he recently emerged from eight months of spending nights at a federal prison-managed halfway house for laundering campaign money in excess of legal limits to a longtime friend in her unsuccessful 2012 bid for the U.S. Senate. He noted that his writing and movies had drawn Obama’s anger, pointed out the harshness of his sentence compared with others and poked fun at a federal judge who ordered D’Souza to undergo extensive counseling.

“Clearly, it has not been working very well, as evidenced by my presence here,” he said, as the audience roared with laughter.

D’Souza was frank in criticizing fellow Republicans for failing to meet liberal attacks with adequate energy.

“Obama is an apostle of envy,” D’Souza said, saying the president effectively exploits the longing of the unsuccessful by promising them a redistribution of wealth in return for votes. “He’s very talented at stoking the flames of hatred and resentment,” D’Souza said.

Ultimately, “the goal of progressives and Democrats is to take all the wealth of America,” he continued. “They’re not just interested in taxing your income; they want your wealth.”

The message resonated with diners, who gave D’Souza standing ovations at the beginning and end of his talk.

When an audience member asked his opinion on the GOP presidential candidates, D’Souza declined to pick one, saying his “peculiar talent” lies in chiding the opposition.

Republicans must do better at sharing the wisdom of conservative ideology, he said, suggesting that progressives “have big bullhorns (while) we have little whisper horns.”

“Young people haven’t rejected conservatism; they haven’t heard it,” he said.

Garth Stapley: 209-578-2390