Politics & Policy

Dreams from His Brother

Dinesh D’Souza’s new movie opens eyes.

You would think the media would be crawling all over a rich-man-poor-man story like this. One brother is poor and lives in Africa. The other is rich and lives in America.

One lives in a shanty in a slum in Nairobi on dollars a month. The other lives at the most exclusive address in the world — 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Sound like a fictional Hollywood screenplay, one the Left would eat up?

But it gets better. It turns out that the rich American brother made his fortune writing about his own life, and about the father from Kenya he didn’t really know. The poor African brother wrote a book about his own life, too, and about his father he didn’t know.

The rich brother is a man the world knows: President Barack Obama. The poor brother is a man the world doesn’t know — George Obama.

To make this story even richer, it turns out that the wealthy American brother has not bothered to help his poor African brother. Not a bit. Indeed, President Obama has not even bothered to get to know, let alone help, his struggling brother George. The two met briefly when they were younger, back when Barack Obama was searching for his identity and selling what he discovered to an American publisher.

At the National Prayer Breakfast this past February, President Obama gave an eloquent speech explaining why his faith informs his desire to serve the public, and why government should play a role in helping the less fortunate among us. This is what he said in front of some of the nation’s most distinguished religious leaders: “But part of that belief comes from my faith in the idea that I am my brother’s keeper and I am my sister’s keeper; that as a country, we rise and fall together.”

I guess he was talking about his metaphorical brother. He certainly wasn’t talking about his real-life half brother, George.

So why do we know so little about this brother and President Obama’s refusal to help him? Why hasn’t the media covered the story more fully? Can you imagine what fun they’d be having if the poor, estranged brother was Mitt Romney’s?

But much more important than the media’s silence is the question why President Obama hasn’t bothered to help his brother George. Even the president’s harshest critics give him credit for being a solid family man and a great father, husband, and role model to his two beautiful daughters.

Why doesn’t he want Malia and Sasha to know their uncle?

There are several possible explanations.

One possible motivation is sheer shame. It is certainly true that George Obama made some bad decisions in his life, decisions that led him to the life he now leads in the slums of Nairobi. He admits to grave mistakes in his youth, to trouble with gangs and alcohol, and attributes much of it to not having a strong male authority in his life. But isn’t this precisely the kind of person President Obama would want to champion, especially if he is related by blood?

There may be, however, a more profound reason we don’t know George. One that has more to do with ideology than with pathology.

In his book no one has read, Homeland, George Obama has the temerity to suggest that if Barack Obama had been born and raised in Kenya rather than America, the life he has lived would be much different. Being born in the greatest, richest, freest country — one where free markets prevail — has allowed Barack to exercise his talents and achieve greatness.

For his new movie, 2016: Obama’s America, Dinesh D’Souza interviewed George. It was remarkable not for what George said about his brother (he had not a single bad thing to say about him) but about the anti-colonial mindset that drove his father and that animated his brother’s hit book, Dreams from My Father.

George rejects the narrative, embraced by both his half brother and their late father, that blames Western colonial exploitation for the poverty and suffering of the Third World. More important, George rejects his father’s anti-capitalist ideology — and his father’s dreams of a socialist state where the wealth is spread around to benefit all Kenyans.

In 1963, after returning home to Kenya following a stint at Harvard, Barack Obama Sr. wrote an article for the East Africa Journal called “Problems Facing Our Socialism.” There he made the case that high taxes are morally and practically good if the government then uses them to provide for the people.

How high could tax rates rise?  “Theoretically,” he wrote, “there is nothing that can stop the government from taxing 100 percent of income so long as the people get benefits from the government commensurate with their income which is taxed.”

Yes, that was not an error. He argued that a 100 percent tax rate can actually work. They taught President Obama’s father some pretty interesting economic theory at Harvard!

Obama Sr. continued: “It is a fallacy to say there is a limit [to tax rates], and it is a fallacy to rely mainly on individual free enterprise to get the savings.”

In the same paper, Obama Sr. advanced the idea of nationalizing all industry and, indeed, most commerce, and all for nationalist and racial reasons.  He also wanted to seize the large-scale industries that were developed and owned by Europeans, and he wanted to take away the smaller family-owned businesses that made up much of Kenya’s local economy, because, as was the case in large parts of East Africa, they were owned by Indians.

His reasoning was straightforward: He thought it was wrong for Asians and Europeans to profit from their investments and hard work, even though small businesses provided employment opportunities for Kenyans. Obama Sr. believed that his people were being oppressed not by colonialism but by capitalism. And capitalists.

George Obama thinks such thinking is rubbish. And he thinks such thinking has done great damage to Kenya and other Third World countries. He told D’Souza that at the time of its independence in the early 1960s, “Kenya was on an economic par with Malaysia or Singapore. Look where we are now, and where they are. They’re practically developed and industrialized, while Kenya is still a basket case.”

George thinks poor countries need to take responsibility for their own situation. “What’s our excuse for failure? We don’t have one. We’ve only got ourselves to blame.”

Policy matters. And culture matters. Indeed, bad policy can sometimes engender bad culture. George Obama believes it is more freedom, and more free enterprise, that will ultimately lift the people in his slum out of poverty.

He is a serious man, one who is committed to helping his neighbors in those shanties in Nairobi live better and more productive lives.

That is the dream of Obama’s brother, George.

Maybe that’s why George hasn’t heard from his brother in Washington.

It’s certainly why the American people haven’t heard George’s story.

— Lee Habeeb is the vice president of content at Salem Radio Network, which syndicates Bill Bennett, Mike Gallagher, Dennis Prager, Michael Medved, and Hugh Hewitt. He lives in Oxford, Miss., with his wife, Valerie, and daughter, Reagan.

Lee HabeebLee Habeeb is an American talk-radio executive and producer. He has written columns for USA Today and the Washington Examiner, and is a columnist for Townhall.com and National Review.


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