In the 1980's British miniseries "House of Cards," the fictional conservative Prime Minister, Henry Collingridge, finds himself dragged into the heart of a family scandal when his drunken, financially incompetent brother Charles is framed for insider trading. At first, Collingridge stands by his brother, on the grounds that "duty and self-interest happily coincide," but as the scandal goes on, he is forced to make a show of disowning his brother, only to lose the office he holds anyway. By the end, he is reduced to holding his brother and sobbing, "I'm so glad I don't have to fight those b******s anymore."
Would that President Barack Obama showed such concern for his deeply impoverished, Kenyan half-brother George, a man who, like Charles Collingridge, is incapable of spending money and has flirted with many of the most controlled substances on the face of the earth.
Also like Collingridge, George Obama is being used by President Obama's political opponents as a cudgel to beat the President. In fact, conservative intellectual and filmmaker Dinesh D'Souza has made a point of making giving the lesser-known George a dose of Western exposure he (Obama) probably never expected to receive. The Huffington Post reports:
That book put forth D'Souza's wildly unpopular belief that Barack Obama's Kenyan heritage instilled a burning hate for all things colonial in the president. The author contends that Obama was introduced to this distaste for colonial powers from his (and George's) father.
In the clip above, George is seen fielding questions from D'Souza, and generally disagreeing with every principle the latter raises. When the author and filmmaker presses Obama on why his wealthy and powerful brother isn't helping him financially, George says the president "has a family of his own."
"He’s got other issues to deal with,” he adds. “He’s taking care of the world, so he’s taking care of me."
D'Souza's interview with George Obama, posted above, has touched off a flurry of press coverage, perhaps the most comprehensive of which is a piece in the Daily Mail discussing everything from George Obama's self-destructive lifestyle, to his surprising political connections, to his relationship with his world-famous brother:
The two men may share the same father, but while Barack Obama was born in Hawaii to his father’s American second wife, George — born in Kenya — was the product of Obama Senior’s fourth marriage.
Today, while Barack entertains at the White House, flies aboard Air Force One and is a friend of film stars and royalty, George, 30, is to be found slumped in his corrugated iron shack which even fellow slum-dwellers regard as a hovel.[...]
"My brother has risen to be the leader of the most powerful country in the world. Here in Kenya, my aim is to be a leader among the poorest people on Earth: those who live in the slums."
In what sounds like the script for a Hollywood film, he claims to have been the driving force behind the transformation of a slum football team into one of the top sides in Kenya, known as ‘Obama’s champs’.
Such, apparently, is his devotion to good works that many Kenyans want George to stand for President, believing anyone sharing the name and blood of the most powerful politician on the planet can transform their lives.
But, as I discovered, this may prove beyond George. Indeed, standing — let alone talking much sense or walking in a straight line — is tricky for the U.S. President’s brother much of the time, due to his chronic addiction to drink and years of drug abuse.
Nor is there anything heroic and altruistic about his motives for living in the slums. His principal reason is that the potent local moonshine is cheap and readily available here, as is cocaine, heroin and marijuana.
It only gets worse from there. Apparently, George Obama is addicted to a dangerous local beverage called Chang'aa (or as it's known colloquially, "kill-me-quick"), a form of Kenyan alcohol frequently laced with battery acid, embalming fluid or other deadly chemicals. In fact, even when deprived of this toxic mix, George Obama reportedly drinks at an alarming rate, downing multiple double scotches with beer chasers at the expense of the Daily Mail reporter.
That's not to say that no information can be gained from the President's half-brother. For instance, George Obama simultaneously resents his brother for making him famous indirectly, and relies on that famous name to con his way into more drugs and alcohol. And lest you think the President is unaware of this plight on the part of a family member, George Obama has this to say about his relationship with his brother:
George says, apparently without a shred of self-awareness, that he is under pressure to follow his older brother’s footsteps into politics. "I have got a lot of people telling me to stand as a member of parliament. But I’m not interested in politics."
Then he pauses, and adds: "But if Barack was President, and I was president of Kenya it would be easier to meet." He says it is only his poverty that prevents the two of them having a closer relationship.
"He’s got responsibilities. He’s not supposed to take care of me," he says. "I’m an adult. Everyone thinks he sends me cash. But I’m not a beggar." But asked if he’d take cash if Obama offered it, George smiled and said: "Seriously! Yes! Who wouldn’t?"
Though he is consumed with self-pity about his plight, he is, officially, the co-ordinator of Huruma Football Club, a township team made up of orphans, former prisoners and reformed drug addicts.
This is just a title. In reality, he spends virtually every day getting drunk or sleeping off the effects. So where did it all go wrong for the 30-year-old? Of course, George is following in something of a family tradition: the father he and the President share was also a notorious drunk and habitué of township Chang’aa bars.
However, in spite of his deeply self-destructive lifestyle, George Obama has one trait that may endear him to his brother's critics - he apparently has faced life's hard knocks and learned to take responsibility for his actions. In what might sounds almost like an echo of Glenn Beck's rationale for his radio show and for "Restoring Love," Obama says he learned the price of his previous addictions to cocaine and heroin in a Kenyan prison, which he claims changed him for the better, making him want to help others.
However, unlike Beck, this Obama apparently cannot kick his habits, and as such, looks poised to leave not only his slum, but his own son, without someone to look after them. His friends worry that he will never recognize this particular instance of self-destruction for what it is, and there is apparently no one there who can take care of Shamir Obama, George Obama's two year old son.
...Well, okay, there is. But he's taking care of the world. Perhaps it's understandable that his own nephew has to wait.