Since he was elected President, two books have claimed the couple came close to splitting in their early years together, with Mrs Obama even drawing up divorce papers after deciding his burning political ambition was ruining their chances of domestic happiness. In 2009, veteran Washington reporter Richard Wolffe claimed that the marriage almost collapsed nine years earlier because of Obama’s political drive and the family’s shattered finances.
‘There was little conversation and even less romance. She was angry at his selfishness and careerism; he thought she was cold and ungrateful,’ wrote Wolffe. Indeed, if the U.S. tabloids are to be believed, the relationship of Washington’s golden couple is facing problems that go far beyond dirty looks. Under the headline ‘Obama Divorce Bombshell!’, the National Enquirer claims their 21-year marriage has dissolved in a string of ugly fights, that were prompted by the Mandela memorial incident, and far more outrageously, Mrs Obama’s discovery that Secret Service bodyguards had been covering up infidelity on her husband’s part. It’s an allegation the White House has declined to comment on, though after Bill Clinton’s trouser-dropping scandals, Americans would be rather less sanguine about any extra-marital activity than the French appear to be over President Francois Hollande’s behaviour. For the moment, they are allegedly sleeping in separate bedrooms after Mr Obama’s attempt to ‘mend fences’ backfired so badly on a recent Christmas getaway to Hawaii that he returned to Washington with their two daughters, leaving his wife behind. Mrs Obama, the Enquirer claims, intends to stand by her husband until his presidency is over, at which time he will move back to Hawaii, where he grew up, and she will stay in Washington with their children.