I was recently having dinner with John Sullivan, the writer and director of the Dinesh D’Souza film “2016: Obama’s America.” I have a brief appearance in the film, speaking about Frank Marshall Davis, a mentor to young Obama in Hawaii, who I’ve written a book about. I know John beyond the film.
“You’ll never guess who called Dinesh,” Sullivan said to me. “Who?” I asked.
As D’Souza’s film graphically shows, George Obama lives in a shanty house in Nairobi, Kenya, surviving on a few meager dollars a month. A couple hundred extra dollars per year would be a relative fortune to George. Alas, Barack Obama, a millionaire who regularly blasts the “greedy” rich, has never sent a dime to George—a point raised by D’Souza in the film.
So, why was George telephoning D’Souza all the way from Kenya? Because George needed help. It was an emergency situation. He explained to D’Souza that his young son was at the hospital, ailing from a “chest condition.” He needed a quick $1,000 for healthcare.
“Since George was at the hospital I asked him to let me speak to a nurse,” says D’Souza, “and she confirmed that George’s son was indeed ill.” D’Souza immediately sent the money via Western Union.
But here’s the kicker: As D’Souza states, “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.’”
That’s touching. In fact, however, D’Souza is not a brother to George Obama. Barack Obama is. And Obama makes more money as president of the United States than D’Souza makes as president of King’s College. Obama is one of those “wealthy millionaires” that he complains about all the time.
Why didn’t George go to his real brother for support? Better, why doesn’t Obama go to him?
Sure, Obama is obviously busy. But George is family. Other obviously busy presidents have had brothers, half brothers, estranged brothers—and downright bizarre brothers. Recently, there was Bill Clinton’s troubled brother, Roger. There was Billy Carter, Jimmy’s brother. These brothers often embarrassed their presidential brothers. Jimmy’s brother was on the front of everything from the New York Times to beer cans. Nonetheless, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, two southern Baptists, took care of their brothers.
But here’s where Obama’s negligence of his half-brother gets much worse:
As president, Barack Obama has not been shy about invoking his faith—with, of course, not a peep of protest from secular liberals who went bonkers when George W. Bush simply said he prayed as president. Obama has invoked his faith in support of everything from his healthcare initiative to gay marriage.
And Obama’s most common expression of his faith is his repeated use of the phrase “my brother’s keeper.” He uses it incessantly. The Presidential Papers reveal that Obama has used the phrase 57 times as president, far more than any previous president. He has used it 17 times over the last 12 months—11 of those occasions at fundraisers.
“I am my brother’s keeper,” said Obama in Atlanta in March. “Each of us is only here because somebody somewhere was looking out for us. It started in the family, but it wasn’t just the immediate family…. Our story has never been about what we can do alone. It’s what we do together.”
For Obama, this is an exhortation to help one another, from our literal brothers to our brothers in the wider community and world.
That said, the “brother’s keeper” passage is an odd choice, isn’t it? It comes from the Old Testament remark of Cain after he murdered his brother Abel. God asks Cain where his brother is. Cain replies, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
It is a bad moment, filled with disturbing implications about the nature of man, man’s relationship to man, man’s relationship to God, and more. Given the roots of the phrase—the first murder, of a sibling no less—I find it a rather strange formulation for making the case of helping our brother, or our neighbor, or the needy. I see a phrase like “love thy neighbor,” a favorite of George W. Bush, as far more preferable, and certainly derived from an infinitely better source.
But even stranger is Obama’s constant use of the phrase in light of his own brother’s lousy situation. Why doesn’t he help keep his own brother? Apparently, that role has been left to Dinesh D’Souza.
Paul Kengor’s books include God and Ronald Reagan, God and George W. Bush, and God and Hillary Clinton. His latest is The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis, the Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor.