The Fringe, Part 2
Presidential candidates you've never heard of.
Updated Friday, Oct. 19, 2007, at 6:30 PM
Family doesn't matter: Lynne Cheney told MSNBC Tuesday that her husband, Dick, and Barack Obama are eighth cousins. "Think about this," Cheney said. "This is such an amazing American story that one ancestor, a man that came to Maryland, could be responsible down the family line for lives that have taken such different and varied paths as Dick's and Barack Obama's."
Not really, says Utah genealogist Chip Hughes. Eighth cousins is nothing to get excited about. "If you told me that, I'd go, 'Oh, OK.' I wouldn't go, 'What?'" he says. "You think about it, there's only about 30 years per generation. If you go back to the Revolutionary War, that's eight generations. With the amount of people living then versus now, it's just not that unusual."
Hughes said you can't put an exact number on odds of two people being distant cousins. But chances are, everyone's got a famous relative. Descendants of the pilgrims who sailed over on the Mayflower currently number in the hundreds of thousands. Obama is also apparently related to President Bush. "My ninth great grandfather was Roger Williams," founder of Rhode Island, Hughes said. "There's horse thieves and heroes in everybody's line."
Asked whether Romney's religion was a stumbling block for him, Jones replied, "What is the alternative, Hillary's lack of religion or an erroneous religion?"
"As a Christian I am completely opposed to the doctrines of Mormonism," he said. "But I'm not voting for a preacher. I'm voting for a president. It boils down to who can best represent conservative American beliefs, not religious beliefs."
Wait, what? I thought the whole point of an endorsement from Bob Jones was that he—or any other fundamentalist Christian university president, for that matter—does pick based on religious beliefs. No one cares what Bob Jones thinks of the health-care plan or tax cuts or plan for Iraq. They want to know who worships the best God! It's like a master chef recommending a restaurant even though he hates the food.
People always discuss Romney's beliefs as a weak spot. Who knew he'd be our nation's last defense against a pagan Giuliani or Clinton administration?
Christopher Beam is a writer living in Beijing.
Photographs of: Mark Klein courtesy of Dr. Klein; Jack Shepard courtesy of Dr. Shepard; Rudy Giuliani in the Republican presidential debate by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images; Bill Richardson baseball card courtesy the Richardson campaign; Duncan Hunter by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images. Photographs of Sam Brownback by: Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images; Darren McCollester/Getty Images; Mandel Nagan/AFP/Getty Images; Scott Olson/Getty Images; Bill Pugliano/Getty Images; and Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images.