The Obama Messiah Watch, part 3.
Is Barack Obama the Light of the World? To answer this question, Slate has been gathering gratuitously adoring biographical details from newspaper, television, and magazine profiles of the U.S. senator from Illinois, best-selling author, Harvard Law Review editor, Men's Vogue cover model, Grammy winner, sot-weed addict, and "exploratory" presidential candidate. Today's entry is a Feb. 5 Associated Press story by Karin Stanton on Obama's genealogy. Although Stanton was unable to locate the Lord in Obama's family tree, she did find the father of our country:
Bruce Harrison, founder of the Waikoloa[, Hawaii]-based Family Forest Project, says he found links between the Democratic senator from Illinois and Presidents George Washington, James Madison, Harry Truman and Jimmy Carter.
Apparently the common ancestor is one Lawrence Washington, an English wool merchant born circa 1500. Lawrence is Obama's great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather on his mother's side. Lawrence was George Washington's great-great-great-great-great grandfather on his father's side. In addition to four presidents, Stanton reports, Lawrence Washington's descendants include Gen. George S. Patton, Adlai Stevenson, and Quincy Jones.
Stanton neglects to tell readers that this Obama ancestor built the Washington family estate in Oxfordshire, Sulgrave Manor, on land that King Henry VIII confiscated from the Catholic Church. She also neglects to point out that, according to the same genealogical database, George Washington is President George W. Bush's 11th cousin eight times removed, and that Dubya may be "at least a 79th great-grandson of the famous King Solomon of the Bible, whose name is synonymous with great wisdom." Talk about regression to the mean!
Timothy Noah is a former Slate staffer. His book about income inequality is The Great Divergence.
Photograph of Barack Obama by Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images.