As it turns out, the community organizer in chief who swore Donald Trump would never be president, had secretly admired him, and even went as far as to swear that someday he would be like Donald Trump. In an incredible coincidence, Barack Obama, arguably the most inept man to ever occupy our Oval Office, has left behind an incredible mess for the iconic businessman he once idolized to fix.
In David J. Garrow’s new Barack Obama biography, ” Rising Star”, Garrow exposes a cold and calculating Barack Obama, who would walk away from a woman he loved because the color of her skin would harm his political career. His book also exposes his obsession with race and becoming the president of our nation. But nestled away in the book that lays bare his ambitions, there is an interesting piece that Obama wrote over 25 years ago, while at Harvard about how he dreamed about being like Donald Trump.
Barack Obama’s white college girlfriend Sheila Miyoshi Jager, who is now a professor at Oberlin College, tells a story of a very calculating man who was not about to let her race get in the way of his political ambitions:
“In the winter of ‘86, when we visited my parents, he asked me to marry him,” she told Garrow. Her parents were opposed, less for any racial reasons (Barack came across to them like “a white, middle-class kid,” a close family friend said) than for concern about Obama’s professional prospects, and because her mother thought Sheila, two years Obama’s junior, was too young. “Not yet,” Sheila told Barack. But they stayed together.
In early 1987, when Obama was 25, she sensed a change. “He became. . . so very ambitious” very suddenly,” she told Garrow. “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.”
Discussions of race and politics suddenly overwhelmed Sheila and Barack’s relationship. “The marriage discussions dragged on and on,” but now they were clouded by Obama’s “torment over this central issue of his life . . . race and identity,” Sheila recalls. The “resolution of his black identity was directly linked to his decision to pursue a political career,” she said.
At Harvard, the Obama the world has come to know took clearer form. In his late 20s now and slightly older than most classmates, he had a compulsion to orate in class and summarize other people’s arguments for them. “In law school the only thing I would have voted for Obama to do would have been to shut up,” one student told Garrow. Classmates created a Obamanometer, ranking “how pretentious someone’s remarks are in class.”
If Garrow is indeed 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 skeptical 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. Obama vented to a friend how often Michelle would talk about money. “Why don’t you go out and get a good job? You’re a lawyer — you can make all the money we need,” she would tell him, as the couple struggled with student loans and the demands of family and political life. (Garrow sides with Michelle, highlighting how, on the day after Sasha was born, Barack went downtown for a meeting.)
As he considered a U.S. Senate bid, Obama’s team commissioned a poll that covered, among other questions, his name. “Barry,” as he was known from childhood into his early college years, polled better than “Barack,” but Obama never considered resurrecting the old name. He had made his choice, of identity and image, long ago. Sheila recalls that one of the few times Obama became genuinely angry with her was in Hawaii, when she heard relatives calling him Barry, and she did so as well, just for fun. He became “irrationally furious,” she said. “He told me that under no circumstances was I ever to use that name with him.”
There was no going back.
The sense of destiny is not unusual among those who become president. (See Clinton, Bill.) But it created complications. Obama believed that he had a “calling,” Garrow writes, and in his case it was “coupled with a heightened awareness that to pursue it he had to fully identify as African American.”
Obama had considered Donald Trump long before either man won the presidency, and brushed off his existence as a misguided national fantasy. Americans have a “continuing normative commitment to the ideals of individual freedom and mobility,” Obama wrote in the old Harvard book manuscript, now more than 25 years old. “The depth of this commitment may be summarily dismissed as the unfounded optimism of the average American — I may not be Donald Trump now, but just you wait; if I don’t make it, my children will.”
For entire story: The Washington Post