The Obamas Have a Real Marriage?

Renegade by Richard Wolffe
Renegade by Richard Wolffe

Media is buzzing about the new book “Renegade: The Making of a President” by MSNBC political analyst Richard Wolffe. Here’s an excerpt from the book’s synopsis:

Renegade provides not only an account of Obama’s triumphs, but also examines his many personal and political trials. We see Obama wrestling with race and politics, as well as his former pastor Reverend Jeremiah Wright. We see him struggling with life as a presidential candidate, a campaign that falters for most of its first year, and his reaction to a surprise defeat in the New Hampshire primary. And we see him relying on his personal experience, as well as meticulous polling, to pass the presidential test in foreign and economic affairs.


That actually sounds pretty interesting, marketing copy aside. So why are some running with passages from the book that discuss the Obamas’ marital strains in failed attempts at uncovering drama?

Here are excerpts from an AP article on MSNBC:

Wolffe writes that Michelle Obama "hated the failed race for Congress in 2000, and their marriage was strained by the time their youngest daughter, Sasha, was born a year later."

When Obama ran for the Senate in 2004, his wife still had mixed feelings about her husband's love of politics, and played no part in the campaign, the book says.

But “Renegade” also states:

"We're going to be fine," the book quotes her as saying. "We just have to make sure the girls are fine. We're strong enough to take anything on and be OK at the end.

The First Lady has spoken, so what’s the issue? Maybe I’m just a little more realistic about the institution of marriage, because I thought many relationships suffer from ups and downs, rough patches, and good times. That’s natural, which makes the Obamas even more human. Even if the sweet pictures we saw of the two of them gazing into each other’s eyes were merely political and I don’t think they were, they were the most genuine-looking public displays of affection I’ve ever seen between a presidential candidate and his wife. That alone was a breath of fresh air. Now as President and First Lady, how can they not be together for the long haul?

There are other mentions of “Renegade” circulating. Huffington Post did run this. But there’s also been a lot of attention paid to an excerpt from the book that discusses a “secret” meeting between Obama and Reverend Jeremiah Wright during the campaign. The Root’s Dayo Olopade handled that one.


I haven’t read the book yet, which dropped this week, but I’m guessing there are much more worthy stories in “Renegade” that Wolffe captured during the campaign trail. After all, his former position at “Newsweek” gave him serious access and it was Obama’s idea that Wolffe write the book. Finding those types of gems in the media has proven difficult. No surprise here though.

is a writer, speaker, author of books for adults and youth, and the book columnist for The Root. Her most recent book is \"The Message: 100 Life Lessons from Hip-Hop’s Greatest Songs.\" Visit her at