The Most Embarrassing Political Relatives: Obama's Uncle and More
News broke Tuesday morning that President Obama’s uncle, Onyango Obama, was granted permanent residency in the United States. The decision ends a legal battle that's plagued Obama's uncle since he was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving in 2011. Onyango Obama had lived in the United States as an undocumented immigrant since his visa expired in 1970, and had been issued a deportation order in 1992. But the uncle, also known as Omar, didn’t stop with his victory: after he was granted a green card, he told reporters that the president had lived with him for weeks while he attended Harvard Law School in Cambridge, MA.
Those statements contradict Obama’s previous claims about his relationship with his uncle. Though an “Uncle Omar” appears in the president’s memoirs, the president says he had heard about him on a visit to Kenya — but that they had never met. Now, all eyes are on the White House, waiting for this contradiction to be resolved. But Omar is not the first relative to embarrass Obama — Omar’s sister, Zeituni Onyango, was granted asylum in 2010 after also residing in the United States illegally. Let's take a look at some other embarrassing political relatives, shall we?
1. Ted Cruz's Dad
Sen. Ted Cruz may have his sights set on the White House, but chances are he’ll need to reign in his dad first. Rafael Cruz, an evangelical pastor, has committed some Jeremiah Wright-esque sins in front of the camera, and while they might slide for a tea party senator, that won’t do for a presidential candidate with broad appeal. The elder Cruz suggested deporting the president in Sept. 2012, saying, “We need to send Barack Obama back to Chicago. I’d like to send him back to Kenya, back to Indonesia.”
That’s not all, of course. Earlier this year the good reverend spoke for God, telling us that the Almighty is very, very pro-death penalty. And he engaged in an old favorite: “It was Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” Clever, Pastor Cruz.
2. Just ... the whole Cheney family
I’ll bet that the only thing Liz Cheney hates more than her sister being gay is the fact that she’s married to Heather Poe. Though Poe’s intense privacy might’ve worked for the Cheney clan in the past — like when she didn’t object to having her partnership erased on Bush-era White House invites — it also makes Poe’s outbursts all the more potent. So when Poe decided last month that Liz Cheney’s anti-gay lip service had crossed the line … the internet took notice.
“Liz has been a guest in our home, has spent time and shared holidays with our children, and when Mary and I got married in 2012 — she didn’t hesitate to tell us how happy she was for us,” Poe wrote. “To have her now say she doesn’t support our right to marry is offensive to say the least.”
Yep. Way to attract more attention to the gay in Liz’s family as she runs for senate in Wyoming. Good job.
3. Mitt Romney's Great-Grandfather
As if coming from a state with universal healthcare wasn’t enough to make Mitt Romney’s life difficult during the 2012 presidential race, the failed candidate is also a Mormon. And, like many Mormons, his family has some polygamous relationships hidden way back there in the family tree. For Romney, that footnote is his great-grandfather, Miles Park Romney, who had five wives even after the church officially banned polygamy.
What’s worse, his family had fled the U.S. after the schism within the church, settling in Mexico. His father was born in Chihuahua. "When you read the family's history, you realize how important polygamy was to them," Mormon historian Todd Compton told Fox News. "They left America and started again as pioneers, after they had done it over and over again previously."
In our book, polygamous Mexican Mormons beat undocumented Kenyan immigrants any day.
4. Michelle Bachmann's Hubby
Let’s just say that if Alec Baldwin were to run into Michele Bachmann’s husband clutching a camera, he'd probably have some choice words. And he won’t be the only one: Marcus Bachmann, proud owner of an ex-gay clinic, is frequently rumored to himself be not-entirely-heterosexual. Marcus looks and acts a tad like Liberace, and the couple's image certainly isn’t helped by the story of how they fell in love: the retelling often makes it sound like it was God, not love, which led them down the aisle. From a New Yorker profile on Bachmann:
In the fall of 1975, Bachmann enrolled at Winona State University, a small school in southeastern Minnesota, where she became more devout and tried to lead her dormmates to Christianity. There she met Marcus, whom, she has said, God called her to marry. She had a vision while praying “of me marrying this man in the valley where his parents have a farm in western Wisconsin.” According to Michele, Marcus was simultaneously having a vision about marrying her.
Hint: Don't want to be plagued by gay rumors? Try not being obsessed with converting gay people.
5. Sarah Palin's Other Hunting-Half
Sarah Palin didn’t really need any help on the wacky front, but then in marched her husband, Todd. The “First Dude” of Alaska was a character enough as it was (and a “Drill baby, drill!” conservative) but then someone dug up his old voter registration papers. And wouldn’t ya know it? Todd had been registered as a member of the secessionist Alaska independence Party for years.
Fortunately, American decided to “secede” from the Palins and not put them within reach of the White House. But how did such a spouse pass any sort of background check? Well...