He has modelled himself as a cool, calculated leader of the free world.
But at the age of 22 Barack Obama had a strong ‘sexual warmth’ that overwhelmed his girlfriend at the time, according to a new book that identifies her for the first time.
Vivid diaries written by Genevieve Cook reveal she was driven wild by the smell of sweat, smoking and deodorant that emanated from his bedroom.
She said that on Sundays the future U.S. President loved to lounge around bare chested in a white and blue sarong whilst doing the newspaper crossword
In a controversial claim she also recounted how he was deeply confused about his racial identity and ‘felt like an imposter because he was so white’.
In the end Mr Obama, who was raised in Hawaii by his white mother, decided that he needed to ‘go black’ because it was best for him.
Ms Cook has long been hailed as the ‘mystery woman’ from Mr Obama’s days in New York that he wrote about in his own memoir.
This is the first time she has been identified or revealed her extensive diaries from the time she and Mr Obama dated.
The disclosure are from a forthcoming book, ‘Barack Obama: The Story’ by David Maraniss and features in the June edition of Vanity Fair.
The extracts reveal Mr Obama and Ms Cook met at a Christmas party in New York’s East Village in December 1983 when she was 25, three years older than him.
Mr Obama was still in his ‘cocoon’ phase and figuring himself out whilst working a dull job and living in a modest Manhattan apartment.
The two began seeing each other every Thursday night and on weekends and Ms Cook instantly found herself drawn to her ‘startling’ new friend.
In one diary entry she remarks: ‘How is he so old already, at the age of 22?’
The book reads: ‘She remembered how on Sundays Obama would lounge around, drinking coffee and solving the New York Times crossword puzzle, bare-chested, wearing a blue and white sarong.
‘His bedroom was closest to the front door, offering a sense of privacy and coziness.
‘Genevieve described it in her journal this way: ‘I open the door, that Barack keeps closed, to his room, and enter into a warm, private space pervaded by a mixture of smells that so strongly speak of his presence, his liveliness, his habits – running sweat, Brut spray deodorant, smoking, eating raisins, sleeping, breathing.’
An entry dated February 9 1984 reads: ‘Today, for the first time, Barack sat on the edge of the bed – dressed – blue jeans and luscious ladies on his chest (a comfy T-shirt depicting buxom women) the end of the front section of the Sunday Times in his hand, looking out the window, and the quality of light reflected from his eyes, windows of the soul, heart, and mind, was so clear, so unmasked, his eyes narrower than he usually holds them looking out the window, usually too aware of me.’
The two eventually moved in together and spent their days cooking – Mr Obama loved to make a ginger beef meal or tuna sandwiches the way his grandfather had taught him.
The read books together, spent hours talking about authors and Mr Obama kept up his passion for jogging that he would keep with him in the White House.
In her diary Ms Cook writes: ‘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..
‘…his warmth can be deceptive. Though 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’.
Genevieve was also with him when he had the dream of about his father, for which his first memoir ‘Dreams from My Father’ was named, in which the already-dead and barely present anyway Obama Sr says, ‘Barack, I always wanted to tell you how much I love you.’
Genevieve recalls the morning he woke up.
‘I remember him being just so overwhelmed, and I so badly wanted to fix him, help him fix that pain. He woke up from that dream and started talking about it. I think he was haunted.’
The future President went on to write about Genevieve in the memoir, but did not by name. Their relationship was part of a composite girlfriend he created to protect his previous lovers’ privacy.
In an interview for the new biography Mr Obama admits that one anecdote he described in ‘Dreams’ never happened.
In ‘Dreams’ he described seeing a play by a black playwright with his girlfriend.
After the play was over, my friend started talking about why black people were so angry all the time,’ he wrote in part, ‘And she said that anger was just a dead end. We had a big fight, right in front of the theater.’
‘That was not [Cook],” Obama admitted to Maraniss for the new biography. “That was an example of compression… I thought that [the anecdote involving the reaction of a white girlfriend to the angry black play] was a useful theme to make about sort of the interactions that I had in the relationships with white girlfriends.’
But during their relationship Cook and her lover did often talk about race and when they did Mr Obama was quite revealing.
The book reads that it was part of his ‘inner need to find a sense of belonging’ and Ms Cook encouraged it.
The book reads: ‘If she felt like an outsider, he was a double outsider, racial and cross-cultural. He looked black, but was he? He confessed to her that at times: ‘He felt like an imposter. Because he was so white. There was hardly a black bone in his body.’
‘At some point that summer she realized that: ‘In his own quest to resolve his ambivalence about black and white, it became very, very clear to me that he needed to go black.’
Ms Cook, who is white, also writes that she was unable to shake the suspicion that his ideal woman was ‘a fighter, a laugher, well-experienced—a black woman I keep seeing her as.’
By the autumn of 1984 Ms Cook began teaching at a primary school and Mr Obama had set his sights on Chicago where he would work as a community organiser before going to Harvard Law School.
They broke up and in her diary she claims he was too cold and not giving her the level of emotional involvement that she needed
In an entry from May 1985 she writes: ‘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.’
Of the breakup she wrote, ‘I was not the person that brought infatuation. (That lithe, bubbly, strong black lady is waiting somewhere!)’
Mr Obama went on to marry his wife Michelle in 1992 and have two children with her. The couple have been married for almost 20 years.