Q: Could you give me brief updates on other members of the Clinton-Obama clans? Specifically, Bill’s half brother, Hillary’s brothers, Michelle’s brother and Barack’s half sister and stepfather.
M.D., of Columbia
A: When Bill Clinton was president, his half brother, Roger, earned the codename “Headache” from the Secret Service because of his unpredictable behavior; according to Robert Watson’s “A Life in the White House: A Social History of the First Family.”
He apparently hasn’t changed. On June 5 — just two days before Hillary squared off against Bernie Sanders in the California primary — Roger Clinton, now 60, was arrested for drunken driving in the seaside city of Redondo Beach, Calif.
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It was the latest chapter in Roger’s rollercoaster life. In his autobiography “My Life,” Bill Clinton tells how he often had to protect young Roger from his alcoholic and abusive father, Roger Sr., who died when his only biological son was 11 years old. As an adult, Roger Jr. knocked about as an actor, landing minor roles in several films and TV series, including “The Nanny” and “Cybill.” But he also landed in jail for a year after a 1985 conviction on cocaine possession, for which his half brother would give him a presidential pardon just before he left office.
He did try to make strides to turn his life around. After having a daughter in 1992 from a brief relationship, Clinton married Molly D’Ann Martin, who bore him a son, Tyler, two months later in May 1994. He also enjoyed some success in the music biz, warming up audiences of “Designing Women” and working as a lounge singer. In 1993, he released his first album, “Nothing Good Comes Easy,” on the Pyramid/Atlantic/Rhino label, and, in 1999, he and his Dealer’s Choice rock band appeared in Pyongyang, North Korea, at a united Korean music fest.
The others on your list of kin have been far more successful — and usually (but not always) far less colorful. Here are some brief snapshots:
▪ Craig Robinson: Almost two years older than his famous first-lady sis, the 6-foot-6 Robinson turned into a towering figure both in athletics and business.
As a college forward, he was a two-time Ivy League Player of the Year at Princeton in the early ’80s, leading the league in field goal percentage for two years and becoming the fourth highest scorer in Princeton history. Then as he started working his way up the coaching ranks, his Princeton coach convinced the Mount Carmel High School valedictorian to go into business. With his MBA from the University of Chicago, Robinson was a vice president at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter from 1992 to 1999 and moved on to become a managing director at Loop Capital Markets, a minority-owned boutique investment banking firm.
But basketball was still in his blood. In 2000, he became an assistant coach at Northwestern before returning to the Ivy League, where he led Brown to a second-place league finish in 2007. That enticed Oregon State to hire him as its head coach the next year, but he had only one winning season out of six in Corvallis and was fired in 2014 (with a $4 million buyout on his final three years) after compiling a 93-104 record. After a year to recoup, he was hired less than a month ago as the Milwaukee Bucks’ vice president of player and organizational development. Now 54, he is married to his second wife and has five children, including daughter Leslie, who will be a 6-foot junior forward this winter on the women’s team at her pop’s collegiate alma mater.
▪ Tony and Hugh Rodham: Although they haven’t popped up yet in their sister’s current presidential bid, Hillary’s younger brothers wound up drawing fire in many circles during Bill Clinton’s campaigns and administrations in the 1990s.
In 1993, for example, they started soliciting corporate donations for Clinton’s inaugural parties but public backlash quickly ended their efforts. In 1999, their venture to grow and export hazelnuts from the Republic of Georgia also drew criticism when they wound up in partnership with a major opponent of Georgian President — and major U.S. ally — Eduard Shevardnadze. “You never wanted to hear their name come up in any context other than playing golf,” one senior White House official told the New York Times in 2001.
Born in 1950, Hugh Edwin Rodham earned degrees in education and law from the University of Arkansas before moving to Miami, where he practiced criminal law and worked for the Dade County public defender. In 1994, he was soundly trounced in a bid for the U.S. Senate. Since then, he has been a partner at Rodney & Fine in Fort Lauderdale. Even without a college degree, Anthony Dean Rodham has forged a living as a consultant and businessman. As of 2013, he was on the advisory board of VCS Mining in Delaware.
▪ Lolo Soetoro: Ann Dunham was still married to Barack Obama Sr. when she met Lolo Soetoro for the first time in September 1962 at the East-West Center in Honolulu. He was a Javanese surveyor who had come to Hawaii on an East-West Center grant to study geography at the University of Hawaii. She was a 19-year-old mother of 1-year-old Barack Jr.
He obviously made a quick impression. One year after Obama declined to contest Dunham’s filing for divorce in January 1964, Soetoro married the president’s mother and moved back to Indonesia in 1966. After earning her bachelor’s in anthropology, Dunham and 6-year-old Barack joined him in Jakarta in the fall of 1967. There, she gave birth to Barack’s half sister, Maya, before she and the kids moved to Hawaii so she could work on her master’s in anthropology. While Barack Jr. stayed in Hawaii to finish prep school, Ann and Maya returned to Indonesia in 1974, where her husband had established himself at Union Oil Co. But as Ann grew more interested in Indonesian ways, her husband became more wrapped up in Western culture, reportedly leading to family conflict and a divorce in November 1980. He died of liver failure in 1987 at age 52.
▪ Maya Soetoro-Ng: If you’re looking for the Obama family member who really was born overseas, you’ll have to set your sights on Barack’s half sister, Maya Kasandra Soetoro.
Reportedly named for renowned American poet Maya Angelou, Soetoro was born in Jakarta, Indonesia, but, like Barack, graduated from the private Punahou School in Honolulu in 1988. She then went on to earn master’s degrees in secondary language studies and secondary education from New York University and a Ph.D. in international comparative education from the University of Hawaii.
She has devoted her life to education, moving up the ladder from a high-school history teacher to her current post as an assistant faculty specialist at the Spark M. Matsunaga Institute for Peace & Conflict Resolution at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. In a 2009 New York Times story, she spoke warmly of her relationship with Barack, for whom she took two months off to campaign in 2007 before speaking on his behalf at both the 2008 and 2012 Democratic National conventions. Fluent in Indonesian and Spanish as well as English, Soetoro, now 46, married Chinese Canadian and Smithsonian museum director Konrad Ng in 2003, with whom she has two daughters. By the way, she has two other half siblings through her father’s second marriage — Yusuf, born in 1981, and Rahayu, born in 1984.
What famous cowboy gave a namesake of his horse its own television series?
Answer to Saturday’s trivia: It used to be often taught that for every cell in the human body, there were 10 bacteria. In other words, 100 trillion bacteria lived in an average body made up of 10 trillion human cells. But the authors of a new Public Library of Science (PLoS) Biology paper now say those estimates were little more than back-of-the-envelope scribblings. Using far more accurate modern data, they estimate that an average body actually has about 30 trillion human cells and just 38 trillion bacterial allies. They say 84 percent of human cells make up our blood while the vast majority of bacteria live peacefully in our colon.