By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Obama and his aunt

Wonkette explains everything you need to know about the story involving Barack Obama’s aunt.

If you insist on taking it seriously, try this.

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An intriguing loose thread


What starts with the letter “M”?


  1. Mark

    You can’t advocate for covering the story… AND call it a smear. That doesn’t make any sense.If it’s a smear, why would you want the Globe and Herald to cover it?

  2. Bill H.

    One, I don’t want to have to account for the real or imagined transgressions of any of my aunts, and two, unless Obama plans to appoint his aunt attorney general, who cares what her immigration status is? If, at this late hour, that is the best that the hard right can conjure up, it looks to me like Tuesday will be a pretty good day indeed.

  3. Dan Kennedy

    Mark: For God’s sake, man, only the wingnuts think this harms Obama. Normal people — and I suspect you’re one, though you’re way to worried that Obama might be hurt by this — just think it’s interesting. Nothing more.

  4. Rick

    My question is how she got into public housing with a deportation ruling against her. Only in Massachusetts I guess.I think if she was related to McCain the left wingers would not treat it so lightly.

  5. mike_b1

    No one on the left would think anything McCain’s aunt did would reflect on him, positively or negatively.All we have to do is look at his 26 years in public service, and his record in the Navy, to know he’s a worthless scoundrel.

  6. O-FISH-L

    It’s just another straw on the back of the camel that is the unknown Obama but we won’t know until Tuesday if this was the actual last straw. Although minor on its own, the seriousness of it in the aggregate is confirmed by the frantic, at times senseless, spin of the liberal bloggers.Wonkette at once seems to argue that Obama barely knows Auntie Zeituni, yet he praised her in Dreams from My Father and she was a guest of honor at his 2004 US Senate inaugural. Dan Kennedy on Thursday asserts that both Boston dailies probably wish they had broken the news, then as the news catches fire on Saturday, provides a link, but only “if you must take it seriously.” Auntie Zeituni is emblematic of all that is Obama. Obama used her as a prop to sell his $4,000,000 story, but failed to use his legal skills to sell her life or death story to immigration officials. Asking Americans to share the wealth, while he, a multi-millionaire, allows Auntie Zeituni to live in squalor. Not knowing she was living here, but knowing where to find her for the Senate inaugural and the campaign solicitations. Brother George in the mud hut in Kenya was one thing, but Auntie Zeituni right under his nose is another. Combine it with all of the other disturbing revelations during a campaign where the media has barely scratched the surface and there’s no doubt it has undecideds, especially those who love their aunts, asking WTF? If there are two bright spots from this sad tale, they are (1) the official end of the “racist” label for South Boston. Whether anyone knew who she was or not, it seems that Auntie Zeituni, wearing her triple crown of black, foreign and illegal, went largely unnoticed and unmolested in the section of Boston that liberals, including ironically Dianne Wilkerson, love to brand as intolerant. Southie’s racist days have been over for ages but with Auntie Zeituni living in peace for years, it’s confirmed. (2) The end of the US media as a serious, impartial entity in national politics. With four network affiliates and two major papers in Boston, Auntie Zeituni was discovered not by Republican dirty tricks, but by a British reporter who decided to re-read “Dreams” with an interrogative eye. What a sad commentary all around.

  7. O'Rion

    What happened to the vaunted Southie watchful eye? Didn’t anybody notice anything? “By a British reporter who decided to re-read”———————————— Not bloody likely mate.

  8. Dot Lane

    “Southie’s racist days have been over for ages but with Auntie Zeituni living in peace for years, it’s confirmed.”And from the Boston Herald on 17 July 2007:”Three members of the Army National Guard are expected to be arraigned July 26 on charges they beat up a white woman and brutalized her black boyfriend for showing up at their party last month in South Boston.A fourth suspect in the alleged June 16 racial attack named yesterday was Adam Rich. In an apparently unrelated brawl, Rich, 26, a Revere carpenter, was stabbed to death only a couple of hours later at The 6 House bar on West Broadway.“You (expletive) (expletive), what you doing in Southie?” are among the epithets soldiers Thomas Browne, Robert Stone and James “Jimmy” Caparego are alleged to have hurled at Mattapan cook Ralph Beach Jr. as they were “punching,” “kicking,” “stomping” and “choking” him outside the Columbia Yacht Club, according to documents filed in the South Boston Division of Boston Municipal Court.” really really really need to do a little research o-f-l and stop making stuff up. What I cited is not an isolated incident.

  9. Dan Kennedy

    Dan Kennedy on Thursday asserts that both Boston dailies probably wish they had broken the news, then as the news catches fire on Saturday, provides a link, but only “if you must take it seriously.”Fish: I seem to be having a hard time getting my point across to you and Mark. I’m not sure why. It’s a really interesting story — damn straight I’m sure the Globe and the Herald wish they’d broken it.That said, I fail to see how this reflects either positively or negative on Obama. Except, possibly, for this: As I’ve written before (and it’s interesting that I never get credit for stuff like this), Obama “has an unattractive tendency to use people and move on.”Earlier in the campaign, I wrote this for the Guardian:Then there is the Obamas’ long, long association with the Rev Jeremiah “God Damn America!” Wright. Even if it can never be shown that Barack Obama was sitting in the pews for one of Wright’s more unhinged sermons, it is simply not credible to believe the Obamas didn’t know what kind of church they belonged to and what Wright stood for — the good, yes, but the bad as well.Fish, I don’t think you’ve mentioned one word of that, either. You remember what you want to remember.This is what I mean about the difference between being a liberal and being a partisan “supporter.” Yes, I am a liberal. You couldn’t possibly guess wrong as to whom I’m voting for. But I am a supporter of no one.

  10. O'Reilly

    Dan, Well said but too nuanced for O-Fish-L who has never considered such a condition, being a liberal but not a “partisan” supporter. Does a fish know its swimming in water?

  11. Tony

    Here is why I think this is a legitimate story: You can’t be a millionaire campaigning all around the nation lecturing everyone else about being your brother’s keeper if your own family house isn’t in order. If you are going to use that principle as a campaign tool, you need to live it. That means making sure that you don’t have any half-aunts illegally living in the country, illegally donating to your campaign, and living in a public housing project, paid for by the taxpayers, which should be set aside for citizens who need the housing. You also shouldn’t be letting your half-brother live in squalor in a shack somewhere, like we read about earlier this year.The half-brother in the shack and the illegal alien half-aunt in American public housing are two family members of Obama’s living in dire circumstances while he sits on millions from book sale royalties which featured at least one of them as subjects. He does nothing for them while lecturing the rest of the nation about what we do with our tax dollars, our neighborhoods and our families. The fact that it has taken so long to get the story and the fact that it was in a British newspaper and not an American one, is an embarrassment to our field [Oh, but it’s all Murdoch’s puppet-strings and since he loves Hillary, he wants Obama to lose … or yeah, what a stretch that is … give me a break]. The fact that so many people seemed to be puzzled by this is surprising. Or you just don’t understand the importance of living the Biblical principle if you are going to espouse it. I’m the son of a retired Reverend so I understand a little about these things. You’re a hypocrite if you lecture from the podium while not living the principle. Liberals seem all too eager to attack conservative politicians and Christian pastors for being hypocrites but fail miserably at holding their own accountable for their actions. “Hey, they’re pro-choice, it doesn’t matter …” Well, you know what? It does matter! Instead of attacking the press, Obama should have opened up his checkbook to help. “Gee, I didn’t know my half-aunt lived in a project even though I saw her a couple of years ago … she is no longer on the public dime, I’m assisting her with resettlement money … blah, blah, blah …” That’s being your brother’s keeper.If, however, Obama were not lecturing everyone about being their brother’s keeper, then this would just be another embarrassing campaign story on top of other embarrassments that campaigns have had this cycle … like McCain dumping his first wife and marrying up, like some of Palin’s gaffes, etc. He isn’t obligated to spend his money helping his family. No one is. But that is what being your brother’s keeper is all about. You can’t lecture others and not walk the walk. He’s a hypocrite like most other politicians involved with the two major parties. It is a legitimate story on the national level and should be thoroughly investigated on the local level. There are veterans and others walking the streets of Boston or in shelters. There are a ton of working folks who can barely make ends meet who could use those units. How the heck did she even get access to this unit in the first place? She’s not a citizen! That’s a scandal right there! Question: How many other illegal aliens are in public housing units while American citizens sleep on grates and work multiple jobs just to pay the rent and survive? Granted, the bigger story is on the local level. This has less to do with Obama and his campaign and everything to do with the BHA and the Menino Administration. Will there be a follow up? I sure hope so.

  12. mike_b1

    Once again, Tony, you don’t see the forest, you just see one tree.

  13. Doug Shugarts

    Geez, even Faux News is classy enough to put the word ‘auntie’ in quotes…

  14. Ani

    I think you raise a legitimate public policy point, Tony, that we as a society expect the government to do what extended family once did (or didn’t do). I will say, though, that it’s kind of hard to turn back the clock on this kind of thing, especially with people moving around so much, so that relatives who need help are not right underfoot (and hence are easier to ignore). And extended family now has the option of saying, “There are social programs and professionals for that, don’t look to us.” I have no idea whether more needy people fall through that crack than fell through the hole of unhelpful extended family before.

  15. O-FISH-L

    Dan, point taken. Your criticism of Obama has been so rare that perhaps I should print it out when it happens and develop a system to catalogue it. I regret that I didn’t recall your spot-on assessment that Obama “has an unattractive tendency to use people and move on” since it’s perfect for the Auntie Z. case.—Dot,Selective use of cut and paste diminishes your credibility. On the “Southie” racial violence that you cite and the suspects that you mention, why did you omit the suspect’s addresses? Two of three were right there and the third was “not listed in records” according to the Herald. Let me help:Thomas Browne – MaldenRobert Stone – DorchesterJames Caparego – unknownOn the “6 House” murder, suspect Bernard Piscopo is reportedly from Dorchester.So out of town racists who commit terrible crimes as they pass through Southie is somehow a reflection of South Boston’s intolerance? That’s akin to saying that 9/11 was a reflection of Manhattan’s failure to deal with violence. Sheesh.

  16. Tony

    Good point Ani. As well as the fact that both of Obama’s relatives are not Americans, they are foreigners. So, how are you supposed to keep track of them from Chicago or the U.S. Senate? The flip of that is that I have an extremely busy work schedule and family life, as well as seven “half”-sisters and brothers, all in other states [I say “half” in quotes because while they are halfs they are wholes in my mind]. I have a good sense of how their lives are going because I bother to continue to communicate with them – or at least try to. Have I lost touch with some family members? Sure. But I also know they are OK. And, if I were running for president and had millions of dollars and knew that any of them were in trouble, I would figure out how to help them immediately – not blame the press for exposing their problems to me.

  17. Don, American

    There are just three questions.Is she his aunt?Does she live in a slum?What has he done for her lately?

  18. mike_b1

    There are 10 million illegal immigrants in the US, the INS estimates. I’m sure the Traitor John McCain knows where they all are.Of course, he’s too busy covering up the tracks of his fellow POWs to care.

  19. Nial Liszt

    *I’m sure the Traitor John McCain knows where they all are.Of course, he’s too busy covering up the tracks of his fellow POWs to care.*Mike_b1- just wanted to inform you that either your pet rat or your 9-year-old has discovered the password to the grown-ups computer.

  20. mike_b1

    Oh, it’s all right here, man who can’t spell “nail”:

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