The Corner

Dreams From My Father, Calls From My Brother

A few months ago, on the Hugh Hewitt show, I was asked to respond to President Obama’s remarks to the National Prayer Breakfast, at which he said that he believed in “living by the principle that we are our brother’s keeper.” And I reprised a bit from my book, After America (out next month in paperback!):

In a TV infomercial a few days before his election, Obama declared that his “fundamental belief” was that “I am my brother’s keeper”.

Hmm. Back in Kenya, his brother lives in a shack on 12 bucks a year. If Barack is his brother’s keeper, why can’t he shove a sawbuck and a couple singles in an envelope and double the guy’s income? Ah, well: When Barack Obama claims that “I am my brother’s keeper”, what he means is that the government should be his brother’s keeper.

Dinesh D’Souza met Barack’s brother, George Obama, earlier this year for his new documentary. A couple of days ago he got a call from him:

He was a bit flustered, and soon informed me that his young son was sick with a chest condition.  He pleaded with me to send him $1,000 to cover the medical bills.  Since George was at the hospital I asked him to let me speak to a nurse, and she confirmed that George’s son was indeed ill.  So I agreed to send George the money through Western Union.  He was profusely grateful.  But before I hung up I asked George, “Why are you coming to me?”  He said, “I have no one else to ask.”  Then he said something that astounded me, “Dinesh, you are like a brother to me.”

In fact, as D’Souza points out, George’s actual brother is “a multimillionaire and the most powerful man in the world” who talks repeatedly about our obligation to be our brother’s keeper:

Yet he has not contributed a penny to help his own brother. And evidently George does not believe, even in times of emergency, that he can turn to his brother in the White House for help.

So much for spreading the wealth around.

Roger Kimball adds:

I’ve long known that abstract benevolence, a specialty of liberals, was eerily compatible with practical indifference or even cruelty. (I go into some of the reasons for this in “What’s Wrong with Benevolence” in my new book The Fortunes of Permanence.) But this spectacle of callous familial neglect by, as Dinesh rightly describes him, the most powerful man in the world is something special.

As Roger says, abstractions are what matter for contemporary liberalism: Slap a “Celebrate Diversity” sticker on your bumper, and you’ll barely notice you live in an upscale white enclave and send your kids to a school where the only diversity in view is the janitor. But the gulf between Obama’s life and self-mythologizing goes beyond that. He was happy to exploit his exotic Kenyan family as part of his remarkably canny self-promotion, yet in the end the composite characters with invented narratives are far more real to him than a non-composite brother with an actual sick kid. Because the composites know their place – bit-players in The Barack Obama Story.

Obama’s “fundamental belief” is that “I am my brother’s keeper”. Instead, Obama’s brother’s keeper is “one of the biggest right-wing douchebags of our nation today“. As John Hinderaker says, if Mitt Romney’s nephew needed an operation and Rachel Maddow had to pay for it, this might be a story.

PS For purposes of comparison

Mark Steyn is an international bestselling author, a Top 41 recording artist, and a leading Canadian human-rights activist.

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