Kathleen Parker, the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the Washington Post who angered many conservatives with her attacks on Sarah Palin during the 2008 presidential campaign, says she has discovered she is distantly related to President Obama. “I am proud to be Obama’s cousin,” she writes in a Sunday column.
Parker makes the revelation after discussing the negative reaction she received from a recent column claiming Obama is “our first female president.” Her Post colleague Jonathan Capehart, among others, told her that a black man is “held to a different standard than whites” and therefore cannot show intense anger at events, such as the Gulf oil spill, lest he be typecast as an angry black man.
Parker writes that she sees Capehart’s point but does not “view Obama exclusively as a black man.” “Not only is he half-white,” Parker says, “but also he has managed to transcend skin color, at least from where I sit.” Then Parker adds this:
As a sidebar, there’s another reason I don’t see him as only black. He is my cousin. I had intended to save this nugget for a future column, but now seems as good a time as any to brag.
I learned of this surprising family link when a cousin conducting genealogical research contacted me recently: “And by the way, did you know you’re kin to Barack?”
Apparently, we are descended of brothers whose parents — Johann Pieter Straub and Anna Maria Barbara Hoffman — emigrated from Germany to the colonies about 1733. According to the family grid, Obama and I seem to be eighth cousins once removed.
I am proud to be Obama’s cousin. But that bond doesn’t blind me to his — and our — flaws.
In the fall, Parker is set to co-host a program on CNN with disgraced former New York governor Eliot Spitzer.