And what if Obama had become a Parisian artist?

Did US President Barack Obama consider giving it all up to become a painter along the Seine in Paris? As the US head of the state swings through Europe on an overseas trip, a postcard has surfaced suggesting he might have.

And what if Obama had become a Parisian artist?
What would the world be like if Obama had become an artist in Paris and not the first black president of the UnitedStates. Photo: Georges Gobet/AFP, Miss Shari Flickr

What would the world be like today if Barack Obama had eeked out a living as an artist living in Paris rather than becoming the first black president of the most powerful country in the world?

The suggestion sounds ridiculous but a postcard written by Obama itself hints that he once considered a life painting by the River Seine.

In 1988 a 27-year-old Obama, on a trip to Europe sent a postcard to one of his mentors back in Chicago saying something many people have concluded before him: starting a new life in the City of Light was indeed tempting.

“I wander around Paris, the most beautiful, alluring, maddening city I’ve ever seen,” the future president wrote to Cynthia Norris, then the director of the Chicago Archdiocese’s black Catholics office.  “One is tempted to chuck the organizing/political business and be a painter on the banks of the Seine.”

The note also contains a mild self-deprecating remark from the young Obama, who has since become known for his verbal acuity.

“You’ll be amused to know that since I don’t speak a word of French, I’m left speechless most of the time,” he wrote. “Wish you a fruitful summer.”

The youthful missive hit the news on Wednesday as part of a New York Times story that explores Obama’s Catholic ties. It comes one day before, as he swings through Europe on an overseas trip, he is to meet for the first time with Pope Francis in Vatican City.  

(Image: New York Times)

While Paris may have been tempting, Obama didn’t give in. He subsequently asked Norris to write him a recommendation to Harvard Law School, which accepted him. From his education there his political career truly began to take shape, culminating in his election in 2008 as the United States' first black president. 

No regrets there then, we take it Barack?

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Barack Obama to meet Macron for ‘private’ lunch during weekend in Paris

Former US president Barack Obama will be in Paris this weekend where he will be treated to a lunch with President Emmanuel Macron. The event will be low key so as not to cheese off Donald Trump.

Barack Obama to meet Macron for 'private' lunch during weekend in Paris
Obama had backed Macron for president. AFP
The lunch at Macron's Elysee Palace residence — in a “private” capacity, the presidency said Thursday — will come as Obama visits Paris to speak to Les Napoleons, a network of communications professionals.
Obama, who publicly endorsed Macron during his election campaign, will arrive in Paris on Friday where he is due to make an appearance at the bi-annual “Napoleons” summit as the special guest.
He will give a speech at the Radio France auditorium. 
Macron has invited him for lunch on Saturday although the venue remains a secret. The lunch meeting has not been announced officially as the Elysée Palace are apparently concerned about irritating current US president Donald Trump, who they fear may take offence.
It is unlikely Obama will be given the same treatment Trump was given during his summer visit to Paris, when he and his wife Melania were wined and dined at the Jules Verne restaurant on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower.
Trump however has not been invited to the December 12 climate summit in Paris, unlike 100 other leaders, and Macron has also said he wants to save the Iranian nuclear deal despite Trump's opposition.
Last time Obama was in Paris in December 2015 he dined with then French president François Hollande at L'Ambroisie, a restaurant with three Michelin stars in the swanky Place des Vosges square.
Hollande treats Obama to three-star French cuisine
He had apparently asked Hollande if they could eat out rather than at the Elysée Palace.
Obama is also due to meet Hollande during his latest trip to Paris but not his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy.