Obama 'Girlfriend' in Autobiography Was a 'Composite'; New Book Clarifies Race-Spat Incident

Article excerpt


President Obama has admitted that a white girlfriend he depicted in his 1995 autobiography - in which he wrote about their searing argument over racial attitudes - was actually a composite of several girlfriends from his past.

Mr. Obama told biographer David Maraniss in an Oval Office interview that the so-called New York girlfriend he wrote about in his autobiography Dreams From My Father is based on multiple women he dated in New York and Chicago.

I was very sensitive in my book not to write about my girlfriends, partly out of respect for them, Mr. Obama told Mr. Maraniss. So that was a consideration.

Vanity Fair magazine published excerpts Wednesday of Mr. Maraniss' new biography of the president, to be published by Broadway Books, a division of Random House's Crown Publishing Group.

In Dreams From My Father, Mr. Obama never referred to the New York girlfriend by name, but he described her appearance and other characteristics in specific detail. And he wrote about one episode in which they became embroiled in an argument over race.

Mr. Obama wrote in his book:

One night I took her to see a new play by a black playwright. It was a very angry play, but very funny. Typical black American humor. The audience was mostly black, and everybody was laughing and clapping and hollering like they were in church. After the play was over, my friend started talking about why black people were so angry all the time. I said it was a matter of remembering - nobody asks why Jews remember the Holocaust, I think I said - and she said that's different, and I said it wasn't, and she said that anger was just a dead end. We had a big fight, right in front of the theater. When we got back to the car, she started crying. …