Obama’s Ex-Girlfriends: Alex McNear and Genevieve Cook On Their Relationship

May 2, 2012 | by Staff

Two ex-girlfriends of President Obama, Alex McNear and Genevieve Cook detailed their relationship with a young Obama in a new book, Barack Obama: The Story by David Maraniss, an excerpt was posted on Vanity Fair.


One woman, Genevieve Cook, kept a diary, she met Mr. Obama at a Christmas party in 1983 when he was 22 years old and just out of Columbia University, she wrote that “The sexual warmth is definitely there — but the rest of it has sharp edges, and I’m finding it all unsettling and finding myself wanting to withdraw from it all.” In another journal entry, she penned: “I have to admit that I am feeling anger at him for some reason, multi-stranded reasons. His warmth can be deceptive. Tho he speaks sweet words and can be open and trusting, there is also that coolness — and I begin to have an inkling of some things about him that could get to me.” He had “a bit of a wall — the veil… “How is he so old already, at the age of 22?… I have to recognize (despite play of wry and mocking smile on lips) that I find his thereness very threatening… Distance, distance, distance, and wariness… Barack — still intrigues me, but so much going on beneath the surface, out of reach. Guarded, controlled.” The two broke up in 1985. “I guess I hoped time would change things, and he’d let go and ‘fall in love’ with me,” she wrote then. “Now, at this point, 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.”


Alex McNear detailed a long-distance relationship Barack Obama mostly through a series of letters. In one letter she told Obama that she was writing a paper about T. S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land.” His reply was philosophical:


“I haven’t read “The Waste Land” for a year, and I never did bother to check all the footnotes. But I will hazard these statements—Eliot contains the same ecstatic vision which runs from Münzer to Yeats. However, he retains a grounding in the social reality/order of his time. Facing what he perceives as a choice between ecstatic chaos and lifeless mechanistic order, he accedes to maintaining a separation of asexual purity and brutal sexual reality. And he wears a stoical face before this. Read his essay on Tradition and the Individual Talent, as well as Four Quartets, when he’s less concerned with depicting moribund Europe, to catch a sense of what I speak. Remember how I said there’s a certain kind of conservatism which I respect more than bourgeois liberalism—Eliot is of this type. Of course, the dichotomy he maintains is reactionary, but it’s due to a deep fatalism, not ignorance. (Counter him with Yeats or Pound, who, arising from the same milieu, opted to support Hitler and Mussolini.) And this fatalism is born out of the relation between fertility and death, which I touched on in my last letter—life feeds on itself. A fatalism I share with the western tradition at times. You seem surprised at Eliot’s irreconcilable ambivalence; don’t you share this ambivalence yourself, Alex?”


President Obama said of his ex-girlfriends, “I was very sensitive in my book not to write about my girlfriends, partly out of respect for them.” Ideally wifeytypes do not kiss and tell, but considering that President Obama is a historical figure, it is somewhat appropriate.


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