Sen. Barack Obama has a problem. And it lives in a hut.
His name is George Hussein Onyango Obama, and he is the 26-year-old half brother of Mr. Obama, the multimillionaire autobiographer who neglected to write that his paternal sibling lives on less than a dollar a month in the outer slums of Nairobi, Kenya.
They have met twice.
Unearthed by Italian Vanity Fair and virtually ignored by the American press, the inconvenient George Obama could emerge as a compelling character in the freshman senator’s carefully edited road-to-the-White-House narrative - especially now that his campaign has unleashed a personal attack on Sen. John McCain‘s station in life.
The Obama hit job on Mr. McCain seizes on his clumsiness in answering a reporter’s question about how many houses he and his wife, Cindy, own. “I think - I’ll have my staff get to you,” Mr. McCain fumbled. In a well-funded nationally televised ad spot titled “Seven,” Mr. Obama’s messenger twice repeats the correct answer as the words on the screen reinforce the meme of class warfare.
“Seven. Worth $13 million.”
The Sunday morning shows parroted Mr. Obama’s shocking discovery that the McCain family is well-off. Smarting Obamaniacs campaigning for their messiah are now scripted to ask voters in battleground states how many houses they own and participate in an official campaign contest, “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire: McCain Edition.” Winners receive hope, change and fist bumps - spoils of the “new kind of politics.”
Someone who made $4.2 million last year and lives in a mansion that a mobster helped pay for should not be throwing stones. When Mr. Obama’s flesh-and-blood lives in squalor, raising the standard of living of his opponent’s extended family is probably not a smart idea.
It’s scary to think that this could be a preview of an Obama presidency in which attacking the rich is all the rage, and the rich in the news media pretend it’s OK. Hugo Chavez is having a helluva run bringing down his formerly prosperous nation of Venezuela with that formula.
Mr. McCain, of course, would be publicly eviscerated if he funded an ad campaign called “12” - as in the amount of dollars a year Mr. Obama’s half-brother subsists on. The message also could accurately point out that Mr. Obama and his wife, Michelle, have consistently fallen short of the national average in charitable contributions since they entered the highest income bracket - despite their ballyhooed “progressive” religious faith that touts “economic equality.”
It would also be fair game now to point out that preaching “social justice” pays better than being a United States senator. The Trinity United Church of Christ is building a mansion for the Rev. Jeremiah Wright that includes an elevator, a butler’s pantry, a bar, a rubberized exercise room - and the 10,000-square-foot estate backs up to the Odyssey Country Club. (Memo to wealthy Caucasian Republican members of the golf club: “Fore!”)
Attached to Mr. Wright’s church-funded property is a peculiar $10 million line of credit - presumably, none of which will be given to George Obama.
Mr. McCain’s ad also could highlight that Michelle Obama is on leave from her $317,000-a-year job at the University of Chicago Medical Center, which is now under scrutiny - along with Obama campaign chief David Axelrod and two other staffers - for a scheme that, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, “steers patients who don’t have private insurance - primarily poor, black people - to other health care facilities.”
“The medical professionals who have come to me are accusing the university of dumping patients on its neighboring institutions,” Toni Preckwinkle, alderman for the 4th Ward, told the paper.
Patient-dumping poor blacks may be interesting, but not quite as newsworthy as John McCain marrying a beer heiress 28 years ago.
Does anyone think if Mr. McCain had a sibling living in a trailer park making minimum wage (892 times more than Mr. Obama’s half brother’s yearly income) that the mainstream media and the Obama campaign wouldn’t notice?
In fact, last week National Public Radio ran a piece titled, “Cindy McCain‘s Half Sister ‘Angry’ She’s Hidden,” highlighting that Mr. McCain’s wife’s half sister was left out of her father’s will. The piece was duly filed under the publicly funded network’s “conservative compassion deficit” media template.
Yet Mr. Obama has a half brother who lives in Africa on three cents a day, and the story breaks in an Italian magazine and is picked up by a London newspaper and a few others in Australia. Perhaps the story would be carried widely in America if they could figure out how to blame President Bush. But as Bob Geldof pointed out, he “has done more [for Africa] than any other president,” and of the press harshly judged, “You guys didn’t pay attention.”
Nor will they pay attention that the McCains have adopted a poor Bangladeshi child and done untold amounts of humanitarian and charity work.
What makes this story newsworthy for Italians, Brits and Aussies, but not Americans, is that the U.S. free press is free to ignore stories that could take down their preordained president. And after the Internet and talk radio-driven “Swift Boat” story unexpectedly sank their last guy, the mainstream American press is taking extra precautions this time around.
If for some inexplicable reason the media are forced by their online and talk radio betters to run with this outrageous and creepy story, key Obama supporter Oprah Winfrey can come to the rescue at the Democratic National Convention. On Night 3, the billionaire television hostess can synthesize her two best show archetypes: the heart-wrenching family reunion and “Oprah’s Favorite Things,” the giveaway of material goods.
Imagine the emotional fireworks when 75,000 Obama supporters at Invesco Field witness Barack Obama reconnecting with his destitute half brother as is he lavished with Kai Body Butter & Buffer, Perfect Endings Cupcakes by Williams-Sonoma, Hand-Blown Crystal Champagne Glasses by Deborah Ehrlich and a Pure Simplicity Pumpkin Purifying Mask.
Controversy averted. Because Democrats care more.
Andrew Breitbart is the founder of the news Web site breitbart.com and is co-author of “Hollywood Interrupted: Insanity Chic in Babylon - the Case Against Celebrity.”