Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Siblings are Strange

Pictured above is "Billy Beer," brewed by former President Jimmy Carter's younger brother. In 1977, as Jimmy Carter was victorious in his unlikely Presidential campaign, the press began to get wind of his odd younger brother. Boorish and outlandish, Billy Carter soon gained considerable attention. Capitalizing on his spotlight, Billy brewed his own short-lived lager. After failing as a brewer and facing IRS fines, the sitting President's younger brother did something that, in retrospect is shocking.
Credit Billy for his sense of timing, shrewdly aware that he had only four years to capitalize on his older brother's office, his desperation became apparent. In 3 visits to Libya for negotiations, Billy and a group of business friends could have a chosen a less controversial destination than a North African, socialist, Muslim country. Not exactly like buying a flat in London, Billy registered as a foreign agent and received a $220,000 loan. Senate hearings came and went without any major fanfare and eventually the story floated away.

That is until Bill Clinton took office and the world met Roger Clinton. Bill's half brother had already placed Bill in hot water when he was arrested for cocaine possession in 1984 and spent one year in federal prison. Roger couldn't keep clean for Bill's eight years, getting a DUI in 2001. Hardly a distraction, Bill managed to get himself into a sticky situation.

As Roger and Billy have shown, siblings, while never important, can shed some light on the candidate. Obama, McCain, and Hillary each have siblings, some average Johns and Janes, some peculiar.

Barak Obama: half sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, nothing particularly insighful.

Hillary Clinton: two younger brothers, Tony and Hugh Rodham. Hugh, received a questionable payment of $400,000 for legal services rendered in relation to Bill Clinton's federal pardons. The transaction did not break any laws, but was certainly unethical under the Rules of Professionalism for attorneys. In the spirit of Billy, in 1999, Hugh and brother Tony Rodham entered into a $118 million venture to grow and export hazelnuts from the Republic of Georgia. Turns out their hazelnut man was a political opponent of the sitting President of Georgia, a U.S. buddy. Not exactly in the Muammar al-Gaddafi league, but odd still. Youngest brother Tony has found himself the most trouble, questionable pardon badgering, fights, and back child support.

John McCain: older sister Sandy, younger brother Joe. Sandy is a breast cancer survivor, something her brother takes seriously. Joe is a dinner theatre actor, who is rumored to have made a passionate, yet ominous speech in 2002.