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President Obama Descended from Cao Cao!

Thank you for visiting Kongming’s Archives! While we normally wouldn’t trouble you like this with news details of any sort—even if it is to share details about a Romance of the Three Kingdoms movie or the discovery of Cao Cao’s tomb—but this story is just too great to pass up, even though a number of you don’t live in the United States. If you’re not interested, continue on to Kongming’s Archives!

Discovering Relations

President ObamaAround July 20, 2009 you may have heard that President Obama received Dallin Oaks, chairman of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Genealogical Committee, at the White House. During the meeting Mr. Obama was presented with his own genealogical records, spanning five large leather-bound volumes. Mr. Obama was born in Kenya and his mother, Stanley Ann Dunam, hails from Kansas.

Although these records were not immediately available to the public this event sparked interest in his family line, which is readily available through Ancestor Hunt, a front-end to the Mormon Church’s database, and like anyone else, he has some interesting people in his family history. Among them: Cao Cao.

Family History

Although details are slim at this point it seems the intermarriage between Obama’s other ancestors and descendants of the Cao clan took place in the 1700s. Cao CaoThe event received little acknowledgement until last week when a caller to conservative talk show host, Rush Limbaugh, brought it up in discussion and, laughing, described Cao Cao in accordance with the villainous role he plays in Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

“Cao Cao, well […] he is a snake. He brought [about the] decline of the Han through self-serving interest and he has gone down in Chinese history as one of the country’s worst villains. He has been used time and time again as an example of what not to do. If you think of it, this makes sense—perhaps it’s in his blood? The war, I mean.”

The story circulated among talk-show programs for a few days, though mostly in a light-hearted manner, though two hosts went so far as to make ties to Mr. Obama being “unamerican,” or played off the popular portrayal of Cao Cao to tie negative connotations to his present-day actions.


Asked in passing mention by a reporter, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi responded, “We have more important things to worry about—like the 500 million Americans losing their jobs each month we don’t take steps to solve this economic crisis.”

Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported enthusiastically on the matter, observing that perhaps it might bring about some positive news at a time when stresses between Google and China, along with the White House and China, have been strained over civil rights issues and censorship. “We hope people will take some time to learn about Cao Cao […] rather than believe a [negative personification].”

George W. Bush observed, “One of the things important about history is to remember the true history.”

Former United States Senator Ted Stevens, who has become an internet celebrity after his thorough explanation of how the internet works, cautioned about extensive discussion of unimportant topics as we should, “ensure we do not clog the tubes at a time when so many important issues face our nation.”

Yeargh! responded Howard Dean.

But We Are Pleased

Congratulations on your unexpected family tree, Mr. Obama.
Would you like a complimentary copy of the Three Kingdoms?