Although I’m heartily sick of the topic of Barack Obama right now, I can’t quite ignore this piece about Obama’s college and immediate post-college years, as seen through the eyes of his girlfriends and the love letters they saved (or perhaps I should say “correspondence”), and the journal entries they turned over to David Maraniss, author of a new biography of Obama that has just been excerpted in Vanity Fair.
I only skimmed the piece, which is long and not really all that interesting. But I read enough to say the following:
Assuming that the letters and other writings are authentic—and I have no reason to doubt that at the moment—we can say that Obama was a not-atypical bright young guy who wrote pretentiously about Literature and Life and Love in classic student style. We can also say that he’s clearly heterosexual, and that much of his personality back then seems very familiar to those who study him now. The coolness, the distance, the sense of someone behind a veil and profoundly unknowable, were already evident even to the women who got closest to him.
I also think it’s interesting to compare and contrast Obama with Romney at approximately the same age. They were almost opposites. Obama was still searching for a father and an identity; Romney had an unusually strong dose of both. Obama was drifting; Romney was a family man who already was married with children and focused on his future (Romney married at 22 and became a father at 23). Obama smoked and drank, and more; Romney was a teetotaler and non-smoker. And yet they both were the products of similar educations: private prep schools and Harvard Law (and in Romney’s case, Harvard Business as well).