Today, Reuters reports that President Barack Obama and famed investment guru and philanthropist Warren Buffet are seventh cousins, twice removed:
U.S. President Barack Obama, who won political support and has sought advice from investment guru Warren Buffett, may now feel even closer to the world’s second richest man. According to their family trees, the two men who at times shared the stage together during the 2008 presidential campaign are seventh cousins three times removed. Genealogists at ancestry.com announced on Tuesday that Obama and Buffett are related through a 17th century Frenchman named Mareen Duvall. [SOURCE: Reuters]
Um … so what? This “news” (and I used the term loosely) of course comes after the groundbreaking revelation during the presidential campaign that Obama is a distant cousin of both former Vice President Dick Cheney and former President George W. Bush.
There’s something uncomfortable about the way people keep trotting out these distant white relatives of Obama. It makes you wonder, what’s really the motivation? No one was digging around in George W. Bush or Jimmy Carter’s family trees searching for people of color, penning headlines like “BUSH AND MALCOLM X ARE 15th COUSINS SEVEN TIMES REMOVED.”Know why? Because Black relatives don’t contribute anything positive to a white politician’s image, and can actually prove harmful: Remember how Bush tanked John McCain’s 2000 South Carolina primary campaign by spreading rumors that he had a secret, illegitimate Black child?
But the effort to give Obama every possible scrap of a connection with white people seems like some sort of thinly veiled quest for racial and mainstream legitimacy. It’s as if the people digging for these ancestral details are sitting somewhere thinking, “Alright, if we can just relate Obama to 7 more white people, then Confederate flag-waving right-wing psychos will totally stop plotting to assassinate him.”
Honestly, if the fact that Obama’s mother was white hasn’t bought him a pass, I can’t imagine that these Warren Buffett/Dick Cheney/George W. Bush connections have much potential to help his cause. So can we please put a moratorium on “OBAMA’S SECRET WHITE ANCESTOR” stories? Apart from being useless, they’re just … not interesting.