Column: No family reunion for Obama and Cheney

Nothing has stunned me more this year than the news that presidential candidate
Barack Obama and ViceCheneyobama President Dick Cheney are related. It’s almost like
hearing that Paris Hilton has decided to become a missionary. Or that she knows
how to spell “missionary.”

Obama is a Democrat, a die-hard liberal,
while Cheney is a Republican, conservative to the core. But they do have some
things in common. For example: two eyes, a nose and a mouth. The same number of
limbs, too.

When it comes to buttering their bread, they’re both
conservative. When it comes to buttering their staff, they’re both

Cheney has been known to hunt ducks. Obama has been known to
duck hunts. Cheney has a reputation for stuffing his mouth. Obama has a
reputation for mouthing stuff.

But even with such similarities, no one
ever suspected that the two leaders were related. It was Cheney’s wife, Lynn,
who discovered that they have a common ancestor while researching her memoir.
She broke the news to her husband gently, moments after he revived

Dick: “Lynn, what’s wrong? Why did you faint?”

Lynn: “I
just found out something about your past.”

Dick (turning pale): “What is
it, honey? Is it something I can have expunged?”

Lynn: “No, Dick, this
can’t be erased. You have a common ancestor with someone you don’t particularly

Dick (turning even paler): “Who is it, honey? Clinton? Kennedy?
Bin Laden?”

Lynn: “No, Barack Obama.”

Dick: “Phew! What a
relief. It’s only Broke Bama.”

Lynn: “It’s Barack Obama, Dick. He’s your
relative now, so you’d better learn how to pronounce his name.”

Obama and
Cheney are apparently eighth cousins, with a common ancestor who lived in the
17th century. While Obama’s mother was American, his father was Kenyan, which
means that there are a lot of people in Kenya who are now related to Cheney. And
not many of them are happy about that, as a newspaper reporter

Reporter: “How do you feel about being related to Dick

George Obama (Barack’s cousin): “I don’t like it. He is the
white sheep in the family.”

Reporter: “Don’t you mean ‘black

George: “No, we use the term ‘white sheep’ in

It’s not clear whether Obama’s relationship to Cheney will be a
liability in the presidential race. Hillary Clinton, who’s running against Obama
for the Democratic nomination, says she will not remind voters that Obama is
related to Cheney, as long as he does not remind voters that she is related to

Another candidate, John Edwards, says he isn’t concerned about
the relationship at all. “I don’t think it should be an issue in the
presidential campaign,” he said. “I happen to like Barack Cheney. I mean,

Cheney is not running for political office in 2008, but even
he’s feeling the strain of being related to someone of a different political
stripe. “Dick doesn’t have a liberal bone in his body,” an anonymous friend
said. “But a few years ago, he discovered that his daughter is a lesbian and now
he’s found out that one of his cousins is a liberal. Is it any wonder that the
man keeps having heart attacks?”

If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through and You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.


  1. Hi Melvin
    This was some piece of news! A reunion would have probably given more dimensions about the two leaders’ outlook on the matter. But Mrs. Cheney’s research is good enough for now.

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