Barack Obama proposed to a different woman – twice – before he met Michelle and kept on seeing her for the first year of his relationship with FLOTUS.
Sheila Miyoshi Jager was almost entirely omitted from Obama’s own biography, Dreams of My Father, where she was simply combined with his other white exes into one character.
The couple were very much in love in the mid-1980s when they were living together in Chicago, according to Jager, who described them as being ‘an island unto ourselves.’
Their relationship quickly progressed and in the winter of 1986, while visiting his girlfriend’s parents, Barack popped the question, Jager told Garrow.
But Jager’s parents were concerned that she was too young – Jager was 23 and Obama was 25 – and refused his advances.
Jager, 53, is associate professor and director of the East Asian program at Oberlin College in Ohio
They remained together, but it was about this time that Jager began to realise her then-boyfriend’s ‘deep-seated need to be loved and admired.’
Now 53, the associate professor and director of the East Asian program at Oberlin College in Ohio, told Garrow that Obama became ‘so very ambitious very suddenly.’
‘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.’
But Obama believed he needed to ‘fully identify as African American’ to fulfil his political ambitions – and believed that having a non-black spouse could damage his prospects, according to the book.
This reportedly put pressure on Obama’s relationship with Jager who is of Dutch and Japanese heritage.
By the time he was leaving for Harvard Law School, their relationship was on the rocks.
But Obama was not ready to give up on Jager, and proposed to her for a second time – asking her to join him in Harvard.
Again Jager turned him down.
She believed that his proposal was ‘out of a sense of desperation over our eventual parting and not in any real faith in our future.’
The second marriage rejection was too much for their relationship, and the couple split.
The book claims that Barack kept on seeing Jager for the first year he was dating Michelle but said it stopped after the couple married in 1992
Obama went to law school where he famously met Michelle where she was working. The couple quickly fell for each other and began dating.
But Garrow claims that Jager and Barack continued to see each other on and off after she arrived at Harvard for a teaching fellowship.
‘I always felt bad about it,’ Jager said.
However, after Barack and Michelle married in 1992, Jager says that they stopped seeing each other and their contact was limited to the odd letter or phone call.
The Obamas have not publicly responded to the claims in the book.
But it is not the first time Barack’s exes have been laid bare.
The book claims that Barack was living with Sheila Miyoshi Jager before he met Michelle in the late 1980s (pictured with FLOTUS)
Another biography by Pulitzer-prize-winning journalist David Maraniss detailed his earlier relationships with white women Alexandra McNear and Genevieve Cook who both allegedly accused him of being self-obsessed.
Cook, who dated Obama before he dated Jager, said he would confide that he felt like an ‘imposter’ as there was ‘hardly a black bone in his body’.
She eventually told him he ‘needed to go black’ (to date a black woman), whereas he countered that he would never find a black woman ‘he would feel truly comfortable with’.
In the end, Cook tired of his emotional ‘withheld-ness, his lack of spontaneity’, and broke up with him in 1985.
Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama is out on May 9.
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