Before he met Michelle, former United States President Barack Obama asked another woman to marry him. But then politics got in the way.
These revelations have been made in a new Obama biography titled Rising Star. Its author, David J Garrow, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, who won the prize for his biography of Dr Marin Luthor King, talks of Obama’s rise to the top. “Garrow portrays Obama as a man who ruthlessly compartmentalised his existence; who believed early on that he was fated for greatness; and who made emotional sacrifices in the pursuit of a goal that must have seemed unlikely to everyone but him. Every step — whether his foray into community organising, Harvard Law School, even the choice of whom to love — was not just about living a life but about fulfilling a destiny,” says a review of the book in The WashingtonPost. In fact, Garrow in the conclusion of his book, writes, “While the crucible of self-creation had produced an ironclad will, the vessel was hollow at its core.”
During the course of the book, Garrow claims that Obama lived with a woman in Chicago in the years before he met Michelle and even asked her to marry him.
Sheila Miyoshi Jager, now a professor at Oberlin College, soon came to realizethat Obama had “a deep-seated need to be loved and admired.” Garrow, who interviewed Jager through the course of the book, added that Obama suddenly became very ambitious. “I remember very clearly when this transformation happened, and I remember very specifically that by 1987, about a year into our relationship, he already had his sights on becoming president,” she mentioned in the book.
Although Obama had asked Jager to marry him, the discussions lasted, but, as the book claims, ‘were clouded Obama’s “torment over this central issue of his life . . . race and identity.” The “resolution of his black identity was directly linked to his decision to pursue a political career,” she said.
Garrow claims in the book that Obama chose emotional judgments on ‘political grounds’. The book adds that a close mutual friend of the then couple alleged that Obama said that he would have no political standing if he went out with a white woman. However, Garrow believes that Obama cared for Jager, but felt “trapped between the woman he loved and the destiny he knew was his.”
The book, which has been critical of the former President of the US, also highlights his career in law school where Garrow spoke to some former batch mates of which one of them claimed that the “only thing I would have voted for Obama to do would have been to shut up.”
The Washington Post article concludes saying that if Garrow was correct in concluding that Obama’s romantic choices were influenced by his political ambitions, “it is no small irony that Michelle Obama became one of those most sceptical about Obama’s political prospects, and most dubious about his will to rise. She constantly discourages his efforts toward elective office and resents the time he spends away from her and their two young daughters,” the review added.
“The book’s title seems chosen with a sense of irony. Garrow shows how media organizations invariably described Obama as a “rising star,” in almost self-fulfilling fashion. Yet, after nine years of research and reporting, Garrow does not appear too impressed by his subject, even if he recognizes Obama’s historical importance,” the review adds.