First they tried to delegitimize him by saying he wasn’t born in America. Then they concocted some nonsense about Barack Obama being educated in a Muslim madrassa. When that didn’t work, they tried to say he went to a church that was too black because his pastor preached “liberation theology.”
After nearly a decade of failed attempts to unearth anything in Obama’s past that might make him look bad, his detractors have settled on one desperate, last-ditch effort to paint the former president in a bad light:
Apparently, the only reason Barack Obama married Michelle Obama is that she’s black.
In the time-honored tradition of bringing up old shit (except for slavery, Jim Crow, lynching, segregation and the government-sanctioned tradition of apartheid known as redlining—all of which are off-limits in any discussion about history), two new biographies of Barack Obama have managed to unearth former girlfriends who want to throw shade at his marriage with Michelle Obama.
In two new books by Pulitzer Prize winners David Maraniss and David Garrow, the authors dug deep into Barack Obama’s past to look at the making of the 44th president of the United States. Although the works seek to present an objective view of his prepresidential story, media outlets immediately seized on the details of President Obama’s love life. In what seems like unbelievable news to some people, they reveal that Barack Obama apparently had multiple girlfriends before he met Michelle and—please hold on to your hats for this one—even had sex with them!
Although Barack Obama has said that when he wrote his books, he made sure “not to write about my girlfriends, partly out of respect for them,” according to Vanity Fair. in these new works, a string of exes reveal the intimate details of their relationships with him. The former companions shared love letters, journals and private conversations between them and the future leader of the free world because you know what they say: “Once you go black ...
... we’ll let you come back if you dry-snitch.”
In Garrow’s Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama, the author interviewed more than 1,000 subjects over nine years to create a portrait of the former commander in chief’s early years. In doing so, Garrow managed to dig up a few of Obama’s old flames to dish dirt that would be routine in the story of any other president.
For instance, Genevieve Cook, who claims that she slept with Obama on their first date and knows she was nothing more than a “passing phase” in his love life, revealed that Obama experimented with cocaine, “though Obama was not that into it. For every five lines that somebody did, he would have done half,” she says, according to the Daily Mail. Another anonymous source reveals that Obama “thought about” a homosexual relationship while in college.
Obama eventually moved on from Cook and dated Sheila Miyoshi Jager, a woman of Dutch-and-Japanese descent. Obama dated Jager for a couple of years, living with her in Chicago and—according to Garrow—breaking up with her because he believed he needed to “fully identify as African American” to reach his political goals. The woman says that Obama twice asked for her hand in marriage, but the discussion dragged on, according to The Guardian:
It was affected by what Sheila describes as Barack’s “torment over this central issue of his life,” the question of his own “race and identity.” The “resolution of his ‘black’ identity was directly linked to his decision to pursue a political career” and to the crystallization of the “drive and desire to become the most powerful person in the world.”
Vanity Fair’s June issue features a portion of Maraniss’ Barack Obama: The Story, which includes excerpts from Cook’s diary describing their sex life, Obama meeting her parents and their breakup, revealing, “In his own quest to resolve his ambivalence about black and white, it became very, very clear to me that he needed to go black.”
While both books tell the story of these women and others (Alex McNear, who shared Obama’s love letters, and Lena Montes, a divorced, Hispanic mother of three), they all commented that over those varying years and relationships, Obama was deeply concerned with the subject of race.
Yet a recurring theme in these revelations is either the authors’ or the former girlfriends’ insinuation that it was his political ambition that led him to Michelle Obama. From Garrow’s book, according to The Guardian:
“But if Barack truly believed that his destiny entailed what he thought, he knew full well the value of having roots in one place and having that place be essential to your journey. And who more than Michelle Robinson and her family could personify the strong, deep roots of black Chicago?”
Of course, the fact that Michelle was Ivy league-educated, beautiful, smart and ambitious obviously meant very little to Barack in his choice of her over them. The fact that the Robinson family accepted him, or the lure of an independently successful woman, couldn’t have had anything to do with it. It must be because Michelle was black.
Their discounting a 25-year marriage as resulting from a combination of a hunger for power and a reluctant acceptance of society’s prejudice might not be racist—it might simply be narcissism. But the way they reduce Michelle and the entire relationship to her simply being a “black woman” is reductive in the same great, white-liberal way that black people become either “thugs,” “underprivileged” or “one of the good ones.” Most people would like to think that they were the truest love in their exes’ lives, and no one wants to think that their old sweethearts actually moved on to something better.
But perhaps Barack Obama did marry Michelle because she was black. If—as every one of these women reportedly said—Barack was obsessed with questions of race and self-identity, then it makes sense that he would have gravitated toward someone who identified with his innermost thoughts about himself. If college is the time when people discover who they truly are, it isn’t inconceivable—or even salacious—that after living in Chicago, New York, Hawaii, Kansas and California, Barack Obama reached the conclusion that no matter where he went, he was black, so he wanted to be with a black woman.
These women might not be bitter, but they might not understand that—although there is a part of blackness that can be verbalized to them—someone who is not black can never truly know it. While it might be a difficult concept for white biographers and for Caucasian women whom society has deemed the gold standard of beauty and femininity to grasp, there is the possibility that a man who contemplated and even questioned his blackness his entire life might want someone who he felt truly knew him completely. Maybe the resilience of white self-esteem prevents white women from believing that they were the same as lines of cocaine, magic mushrooms or bell-bottom jeans: just something stupid he did in college.
In Dreams of My Father, Barack Obama wrote:
One night I took her to see a new play by a black playwright. It was a very angry play, but very funny. Typical black American humor. The audience was mostly black, and everybody was laughing and clapping and hollering like they were in church. After the play was over, my friend started talking about why black people were so angry all the time. I said it was a matter of remembering—nobody asks why Jews remember the Holocaust, I think I said—and she said that’s different, and I said it wasn’t, and she said that anger was just a dead end. We had a big fight, right in front of the theater. When we got back to the car she started crying. She couldn’t be black, she said. She would if she could, but she couldn’t. She could only be herself, and wasn’t that enough.
Maybe, for Barack Obama, Michelle was more than enough.