Barack Obama’s Old Girlfriends Shed Light On Presidential Coming-Of-Age
Ever wonder what President Barack Obama was like when he was an idealistic 20-something? Well, it’s a good thing his exes kept a “Barack O-box”. Letters kept by old girlfriends provide some unique insight into the 44th president’s youth.
Today, Vanity Fair published excerpts from Barack Obama: The Story, an upcoming biography penned by Washington Post reporter David Maraniss. The excerpt details the relationships Obama had with a handful of ex-girlfriends, among them Alex McNear and Genevieve Cook while he studied at Occidental College and Columbia.
In a letter to McNear, Obama talks about his views on conservatism and liberalism, early philosophies that shaped the president as we know him today – a man who continually professes a belief in bipartisanship. “Remember how I said there’s a certain kind of conservatism which I respect more than bourgeois liberalism—(TS) Eliot is of this type. Of course, the dichotomy he maintains is reactionary, but it’s due to a deep fatalism, not ignorance,” he says. He expands on this train of thought in another letter to McNear, saying, “Caught without a class, a structure, or tradition to support me, in a sense the choice to take a different path is made for me The only way to assuage my feelings of isolation are to absorb all the traditions [and] classes; make them mine, me theirs.” Daily Intel had some fun with this, poking fun at Obama for his poor skills in penning love letters.
Cook recalled a young Obama on their first date, directly to Maraniss: “I’m pretty sure we had dinner maybe the Wednesday after. I think maybe he cooked me dinner. Then we went and talked in his bedroom. And then I spent the night. It all felt very inevitable,” with Gawker dissecting Obama’s “game” to humorous success. Further, a 1985 journal entry by Cook details her assessment of the then-future president’s emotional well-being: “I’m left wondering if Barack’s reserve, etc. is not just the time in his life, but, after all, emotional scarring that will make it difficult for him to get involved even after he’s sorted his life through with age and experience.”
Good thing Obama worked all that out – he seems to be doing fine with wife Michelle!
What do you think of these insights into President Obama’s youth?