Barack Obama’s political ambitions came in the way of him getting married to his first love, according to a new biography of the former US President.
The new book, Rising Star, quotes Sheila Jager, an ex-flame of Obama, who wasn’t African, as saying that their relationship started becoming increasingly fractious in 1987 due to Obama’s fixation with politics.
The couple met at the University of Chicago when the former US President was 25, according to what Jager reportedly told the book’s author, David J Garrow.
Jager, who’s got a Dutch and Japanese background, told Garrow that the question of race started playing on young Obama’s mind starting 1987, when the couple was almost a year into their relationship.
"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," Jager was quoted as telling Garrow in American media.
But by then, Obama had already proposed to Jager, who is reportedly two years younger to him. The offer was turned down by Jager’s mother, who thought that her daughter was too young to get married.
Obama popped the question again in 1988, before he left for pursuing his law course at the Harvard Law School, only to be snubbed again by Jager. She has been quoted as recalling that their relationship had already started to unravel by the time, and the second marriage proposal from Obama was more due to a “sense of desperation”.
Jager cited an instance when the couple were on vacation in Hawaii, and she called Obama by his nickname “Barry.” "He told me that under no circumstances was I ever to use that name with him," she said, remarking that Obama turned “irrationally furious.”
Recalling a conversation that Garrow had with a mutual friend of the couple, the biographer notes in the book that interracial couples weren’t really looked upon favourably in America of the 1980s.
"The lines are very clearly drawn. If I am going out with a white woman, I have no standing here," is what Obama told the friend.
Once at Harvard, Obama went on to meet Michelle Robinson who later became his wife and America’s first lady. The future US President also got his first taste of fame during his time at Harvard, when he was appointed as editor of the prestigious Harvard Law Review journal.
Obama’s autobiography, Dreams From My Father, strangely makes no mention of Jager, according to CBS News.