Barack Obama Asked Another Woman to Marry Him — Twice — Before He Met Michelle
A new book reveals former President Barack Obama proposed twice to another woman before dating Michelle Obama — then known as Michelle Robinson — and kept seeing her on-and-off before finally cutting ties with marriage.
In his book Rising Star, author David J. Garrow describes Obama’s affections as being torn heavily between a desire to conquer politics and a desire to love Sheila Miyoshii Jager — the woman before Michelle.
According to the book, the couple were madly in love during the mid 1980s. All seemed well in the beginning, and they were described as a natural fit. Eventually, Obama thought it the right time to pop the question.
“In the winter of ‘86, when we visited my parents, he asked me to marry him,” Jager told Garrow.
The parents opposed the marriage, not for racial reasons — she is half white, half Asian — but out of concern about Obama’s professional prospects and a general worry that Jager was too young. However, despite the lack of a blessing from Jager’s family, the two decided to stay together.
But soon things began to unwind and Jager came to realize that Obama had “a deep-seated need to be loved and admired.”
“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 told Garrow.
Obama believed that in order to achieve his political aspirations, he needed to “fully identify as African-American” and marry a black spouse. This caused many arguments between the couple.
When Obama departed for Harvard Law School, the relationship was all but doomed to fail.
Jager said Obama proposed a second time, but this time she said the proposal was “out of a sense of desperation over our eventual parting and not in any real faith in our future.”
But even after Obama met his future wife Michelle at a Chicago law firm and started dating, he continued his whirlwind romance with Jager.
“Barack and Sheila had continued to see each other irregularly throughout the 1990-91 academic year, notwithstanding the deepening of Barack’s relationship with Michelle Robinson,” Garrow wrote
Jager, now a professor at Oberlin College, said she “always felt bad” about the affair.
In a review of the book by the Washington Post, critic Carlos Lozada says Garrow “portrays Obama as a man who ruthlessly compartmentalized 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.”
Lozada adds, “Every step — whether his foray into community organizing, Harvard Law School, even the choice of whom to love — was not just about living a life but about fulfilling a destiny.”
In the end, Garrow’s assessment of Obama’s determination was less flattering than some of his ardent supporters might have hoped.
“While the crucible of self-creation had produced an ironclad will, the vessel was hollow at its core,” Garrow said.
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