On the heels of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election, former president Barack Obama is making his way back into the spotlight with his new memoir, A Promised Land. In his autobiography, Obama writes of the onerous negotiations over the Affordable Care Act, and how Donald Trump’s presidency was triggered by racial anxieties that came to a head during his own two terms. He also revealed that he made the final call when he ordered the raid on Osama Bin Laden — even after Biden advised against it.
But beyond the former president’s more serious musings on the internal workings of his administration and the racist panic that Trump tapped into during his first presidential run in 2016, Obama also caught our attention when he revealed a side of himself that no one was ready for. Like, really, absolutely no one asked for details about the former president’s pick-up game when it came to dating women prior to Michelle — but we kind of love to see it.
Obama wrote of his “strategy for picking up girls” during his first two years of college through a performative interest in the writings of political philosophers like Karl Marx and Frantz Fanon. He says reading the works of Marx and Herbert Marcuse gave him “something to say to the long-legged socialist who lived in my dorm.” Meanwhile, Michel Foucault and Virginia Woolf helped him in his attempts to pick up the “ethereal bisexual who wore mostly black.” OK! But now we really need to know: Who is this ethereal bisexual Obama crushed on?
Many people online had their own thoughts about her. She is “the coolest person who ever lived on this planet,” according to one Twitter user. Others poked fun of his descriptor of this mysterious person: “It’s funny that Obama tried to read Marcuse and Marx to impress women but it’s even funnier that he actually wrote the words ‘ethereal bisexual’,” someone wrote. One person joked that “long-legged socialist, smooth-skinned sociologist, and ethereal bisexual” simply refer to the three branches of government (this has since snowballed into the meme of our dreams).
But Naomi McPherson may have put it best: “who among us has not pursued an ‘ethereal bisexual’.” Is this not, perhaps, one of the most relatable things about the former president? Maybe that’s the point. In an interview with The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, Obama says his ideal reader is “some 25-year-old kid who is starting to be curious about the world and wants to do something that has some meaning.” Goldberg also went on to describe the memoir as “unusually modern,” which makes sense for someone trying to reach young people, some of whom might even identify as socialists in the year 2020.