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Sheila Miyoshi Jager, Barack Obama ex girlfriend: He knew he had to get rid of me

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Sheila Miyoshi Jager
Pictured, Sheila Miyoshi Jager the former love interest of Barack Obama. Image via social media
Sheila Miyoshi Jager
Pictured, Sheila Miyoshi Jager the former love interest of Barack Obama. Image via social media

Meet Sheila Miyoshi Jager, Barack Obama’s ex girlfriend who Obama wanted to marry before realizing he had to get rid of her if he was to become President.

Causing heads to turn is a new biography of former President Barack Obama, ‘Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama,’ as written by Pulitzer Prize winning author, David J.Garrow delving into the life and rise of the former US president.

While the book examines Obama’s time during college, his experimentation with drugs, including cocaine, his plotting of his political ascent along with his serenading of his future wife to be, Michelle Obama, it’s the revelation of a former girlfriend whom Obama had proposed not once but twice (and each time turned down) that has captivated chatting minds (along with her eventual betrayal as Obama plotted his political ascent).

Which leads us to the introduction of now 53 year old woman Sheila Miyohshi Jager who these days works as a professor of East Asian studies at Ohio’s Oberlin College.

Until Garrow’s book came out, the Washington Post book review told of Jager’s relationship with Obama having not been previously made public.

According to Garrow, Obama met Yager in the mid-80s while doing community organizing in Chicago, whom he lived with during his early 20s. The couple had been introduced by mutual friends who wanted to set them up. But soon after, a then 25 year old Obama had more serious intentions.

Explains Jager during interviews with the author, ‘In the winter of ‘86, when we visited my parents, he asked me to marry him’, only to turn down the future president after Jager’s parents relented, fearing that their daughter, at age 23 was too young to be married. 

Despite Jager’s parents’ opposition to the marriage, the couple continued dating until Obama’s attention shifted to a run for presidency. It would be then that matters between the pair slowly began to deteriorate. 

Jager tells Garrow, ‘He 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.’

Noted the Washington Post review: “The marriage discussions dragged on and on,” but now they were clouded by Obama’s “torment over this central issue of his life … race and identity,” Sheila recalls. The “resolution of his black identity was directly linked to his decision to pursue a political career,” she said.’

While another passage noted: ‘Garrow portrays Obama as a man who ruthlessly compartmentalized his existence; who believed early on that he was fated for greatness; and who made emotional sacrifices in the pursuit of a goal that must have seemed unlikely to everyone but him. Every step — whether his foray into community organizing, Harvard Law School, even the choice of whom to love — was not just about living a life but about fulfilling a destiny.’

It was whilst Obama was leaving for Harvard Law School, that Obama proposed to Sheila Miyoshi Jager once again, asking her to come with him to Cambridge.

Instead, the aspiring academic chose to follow through with her planned research trip to Seoul. In her interview with Garrow, Sheila Miyoshi Jager says she believes Obama made the proposal ‘out of a sense of desperation over our eventual parting and not in any real faith in our future.’

Michelle and Barack met in the summer of 1989– that same year, they went on their first date. The future husband and wife met when a then Michelle Robinson was assigned to mentor Barack at the law firm Sidley & Austin, after having just completed her first year as an associate.

During Obama’s initial time in Cambridge, Garrow writes Barack and Jager continued to see one another ‘irregularly throughout the 1990-91 academic year, notwithstanding the deepening of Barack’s relationship with Michelle Robinson.’ 

But that dynamic would be unsettled after Obama had started seeing Michelle.

Sheila Miyoshi Jager
Sheila Miyoshi Jager soon found herself competing for Barack Obama’s with new girl on the block, the future Michelle Obama.

Noted The Independent, ‘… Obama met Michelle… they soon found themselves in a serious relationship… However, Jager was not completely out of the picture as she was soon to arrive at Harvard on a teaching fellowship.’

Explained Jager, ‘I always felt bad about it.’

It wasn’t until after Barack and Michelle marrying that Jager’s relationship with the former president was limited to infrequent phone calls and letters.

Of intrigue, Garrow in his book writes Obama by the time he had begun his tenure as a future lawyer attempting to end his relationship with Jager, not because of any particular conflict the pair may have had, but because of race.

Jager, who is of Japanese and Dutch ancestry, claims that Obama believed marrying her would hurt his credibility as an African American politician. Garrow writes that Obama believed he had a ‘calling’ to be president and ‘a heightened awareness that to pursue it he had to fully identify as African American.’

‘The lines are very clearly drawn. . . . ‘ Obama once told a friend, according to Rising Star. ‘If I am going out with a white woman, I have no standing here.’

Jager went on to receive her Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Chicago in 1994, before going on to teach the following courses at Oberlin: Cold War in Asia (2008-2013), Korea: Past, Present, and Future (2008-2015), The Korean War (2009-2015), The Opening of Korea (2014-2016), The Politics of Memory (2010-2012).

Jager is the author of a book called Brothers at War: The Unending Conflict in Korea, which looks at the operational history of the Korean War and the interaction between military and society at the time.

Jager did eventually get married, marrying historian Jiyul Kim, who specializes in East Asia, Cold War, and US foreign policy. The couple live in Ohio with their children.

Jager since the release of David Garrow’s book has repeatedly declined media overtures to be interviewed.

Sheila Miyoshi Jager
Pictured, Sheila Miyoshi Jager
Sheila Miyoshi Jager
Sheila Miyoshi Jager