Grub Street has learned of a secret contingency plan developed, by the Barack Obama campaign, to counter Republican questioning of his religious, racial and national loyalties.
While the plan has not been implemented at the date of this writing, and is unlikely to be given Obama's commanding lead in the opinion polls, the mere fact of its existence yields new insights into the weapons used in today's political trench wars.
Dubbed "the Shamrock Strategy," the plan claims to draw on state of the art genealogical research to prove that Obama's father was descended from Irish leprechauns exiled to Kenya in the early 19th Century - long before the great potato famine exodus to North America.
Obama and his father, the research claims, are descended from "Barry O'Barmagh," a chimney cleaner from Wetwhistle, County Cork, whose name appears in period journals and memoirs.Leprechauns, given their size, were often employed cleaning chimneys, and turned black from the soot that they were surrounded with.
They were sadly swept up in the great leprechaun purges of 1810-1814, when the notorious Oliver O'Toole was at the height of his political power. Leprechauns, he decreed, were white, and black leprechauns belonged elsewhere. In that sad period, over 500 of them were deported to African shores, with most landing in what is today Kenya.
The Shamrock Strategy's motive is obvious: to make Americans feel as comfortable voting for Obama as they would for a Kennedy. "It would put fix McCain's bodhran pretty quick," said a campaign insider.
The plan calls for a surprise appearance on the "Today" show to reveal his ancestry. He would be bedecked in traditional leprechaun wear, and sport a lapel button saying "Kiss Me, I'm Irish." Buttons worn on subsequent campaign appearances would repeat traditional Irish expressions - "Oi loike it too", "Faith and Begorrah," "Top of the Morning to ya," "One of the little people," "Kiss my Blarney Stone," "Irish and fighting to show it" and so on. During the show, he would next lift his shirt to reveal a shamrock tattoo on his solar plexus, and in a page taken from Hillary Clinton's prop book, actually imbibe a pint of Guinness. He would also reveal the roots of his hair to be red, and, in a gesture of solidarity with his countrymen of origin, burst into tears when asked about Galway Bay.
"Anything goes in 2008" spoke the insider. And this will make Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live look about as exciting as a PBS documentary on insects".
Phase two of the plan calls for Obama -- sorry, make that O'Barmagh -- to record an album with The Chieftains, for immediate web release. The tentative title: "A brush with my ancestors". "It won't be that difficult to do it" said a source. "The Chieftains have recorded 152 collaboration albums already and they've run out of people to ask". Bruce Springsteen, Britney Spears, Yo Yo Ma, 50 Cent, Wynona Judd and Ricky Skaggs have been lined up to appear on the CD to give it appropriate demographic balance. Colin Powell has agreed to endorse the performance in a cover blurb.
"We don't care what it sounds like" said the source. "The point is just to do it if we have to. They've already recorded every Irish tune there ever was, and isn't all Irish music the same anyway?".
Irish music, maybe yes, but this campaign stunt - no. The McCain campaign must be green with envy.