White women have, in the most inopportune moments, been the ambitious politician’s kryptonite for some time.
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And with the release of “Barack Obama: The Story” by Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post writer David Maraniss, where a White ex-girlfriend of Barack Obama describes his “sexual warmth,” we now have to wonder if this will make enough on-the-fence White voters cast their ballots for the Republican with that “weird,” “un-Christian” religion over that Black man whose arm they can’t quite see around their young daughter’s shoulder.
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It is not a question to take lightly. Obama has been labeled everything from a Muslim, a socialist, and an illegal immigrant. Add to that the inclusion of detailed, intimate accounts of a White woman describing her past relationship with the President.
No matter how innocuous, now we have a cocktail that can potentially make this year’s Presidential election the most racially divisive ever.
Ask former U.S Representative Harold Ford Jr. from Tennessee. The young African American organized a robust campaign for one of Tennessee’s U.S. Senate seats against his White Republican contender Bob Cooker during the 2006 election cycle. Given Tennessee’s history with race, no one gave the young congressman from Memphis much of a shot. But he made Cooker, then-mayor of Tennessee’s fourth largest city, Chattanooga, sweat. Until, that is, Republicans put together an ad depicting a blond, White woman, saying that she met him at the Playboy Mansion.
(Ford, who was single at the time, denied ever being at the mansion.)
At the end of the ad, the blonde sensually asks Harold to “call me.” This ad is widely considered responsible for derailing any hopes of him being the first Black Senator elected to D.C. since Reconstruction; Ford Jr. narrowly lost to Cooker 48-51 percent.
WATCH the “Call Me” Ad Below:
Though passages in a book are not nearly as racially explosive as a nationally televised TV ad, we cannot under-estimate the damage such passages can cause, given our current political climate. Genevieve Cook, his ex-girlfriend, says she was in love with the former President, but he did not envision her being his future first lady.
Here is a snippet of Cook’s thoughts, as reported by CBS News:
Early in their relationship, Obama confessed to Cook how he searched for the “perfect ideal woman…at the expense of hooking up with available girls.” In her journal, Cook wrote: “I can’t help thinking that what he would really want, be powerfully drawn to, was a woman, very strong, very upright, a fighter, a laugher, well-experienced – a Black woman I keep seeing her as.”
But Cook would fall in love anyway, and 22-year-old Barack Obama reportedly began having the deepest, most-romantic relationship of his young life. Cook says in 1984, Mr. Obama rented a room on West 114th Street. She remembers how on Sundays Mr. Obama would drink coffee, solve crossword puzzles, and lounge around shirtless in a blue and white sarong.
Cook continued journaling through their relationship, writing:
“The sexual warmth is definitely there.” But just one month later, she wrote, “Barack still intrigues me, but so much going on beneath the surface, out of reach. Guarded, controlled.”
Once, Cook told a young Obama that she loved him. His alleged response,”Thank you.” Later that year, Obama temporarily moved in with Cook. The irritation of each other’s constant company eventually drove them apart. It was the beginning of the end of their year-long relationship.
Once again, this seems innocent. According to Maraniss, the book is not about Obama’s ex-girlfriends so much as it is about how a young Obama envisioned his future and “his obsession with African-American writers.” However, my concern is that we have not really heard about any women in Obama’s life beside his mother, grandmother, and Michelle Obama.
When Maraniss’s book drops in June, how much scrutiny will be devoted to the pages featuring Obama’s ex-girlfriends and what kind of political weaponry can potentially be made of them? Indeed, a large segment of White America did elect our nation’s first Commander-in-Chief. But that was when his image of being a non-cheating man committed to a strong, Ivy League-educated Black woman seemed impenetrable.
He was able to fight off the Jeremiah Wright “Goddamn America” onslaught and Birthers’ claims that he was born outside of the country, but neither of these issues are as divisive as race itself. Remember back in 2000, when even a White man by the name of John McCain had his presidential hopes dashed when a smear campaign against him suggested that he had a “Black Love Child“? He never recovered.
Now that these alleged ex-girlfriends have come into light, we have to consider how Obama’s campaign staff is preparing for potential race-baiting and whether or not Obama can fight off such potential attack against his character as he has so flawlessly done in the past.