WASHINGTON -- It has been a mixed week for Sen. Barack H. Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate. On the one hand, a Reuters/Zogby poll announced that the junior senator from Illinois' 7-point lead over Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential candidate, has dissolved into a 5-point deficit. McCain now leads him 46 to 41 percent. On the other hand, the media have discovered Sen. Obama's long-lost half brother George Hussein Onyango (also spelled Owango) Obama living quietly in Kenya. Among the rustics who constitute the Democratic base, this discovery can only help Sen. Obama.
According to the Reuters/Zogby poll, the Democratic front-runner has slipped with almost every category of Democratic voter: Catholics, evangelicals, vegetarians, nudists, flagpole sitters -- you name it. Yet the slippage has been greatest among the senator's core supporters, the liberals. Among them he has dropped 12 percent. Part of the reason for this drop, Zogby speculates, is owing to the candidate's efforts to sidle toward the political mainstream. Zogby mentions Sen. Obama's switch from opposing all offshore oil drilling to accepting limited drilling.
Brother George will assuage the concerns of many of these liberals. According to the Italian edition of Vanity Fair, George lives in a hut in bucolic Huruma, Kenya, a few miles outside Nairobi. His residence is the epitome of "green," using no electricity, cooled solely by gentle breezes, and with no plumbing to pollute nearby waters, if there are nearby waters. George leaves almost no carbon footprint. He does not drive an automobile. In fact, he lives a very Spartan existence, spending only "a dollar a month," as he apprised VF in an exclusive interview; though other sources report an expenditure of a dollar a day. At any rate, his consumption of the world's resources is minimal.
Actually, it is not completely accurate to say George is Sen. Obama's "long-lost" sibling, for Barack met his brother when George was 5 years old, two decades ago. In "Dreams from My Father," Sen. Obama's autobiography, he recalls George as a "beautiful boy with a rounded head." As a writer, the senator has an eye for detail. George tells VF that the two met again in 2006, when Sen. Obama was touring East Africa and visited Nairobi. Apparently, the meeting did not go well. As George recalls it: "We spoke for just a few minutes. It was like meeting a complete stranger." George is only 26, which could help his brother shore up the youth vote back in the United States, a vote that is often unreliable.