by NW Spotlight
The left-leaning New Republic ran an article a few days ago titled The Obama Whisperer, about senior White House advisor Valerie Jarrett. It includes this description of Jarrett’s power from a former Obama communications director: “Her role since she has been at the White House is one of the broadest and most expansive roles that I think has ever existed in the West Wing.” It’s an interesting and worthwhile read.
Jarrett is a long-time friend, mentor and trusted adviser to President Obama. First Lady Michelle Obama used to be an aide to Jarrett – both worked for former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, the eldest son of Richard J. Daley, who had been Mayor of Chicago from 1955-1976. Jarrett worked as Deputy Chief of Staff for Mayor Richard M. Daley and ran his housing and transit authorities.
Thus, Jarrett was no stranger to the Chicago system of political patronage – the power of favors and retribution. As an article on Daley in Wikipedia notes, “Daley was criticized when family, personal friends, and political allies seemed to disproportionately benefit from city contracting.” Interestingly, it also notes this familiar sounding nugget “[Daley’s] budgets ran up the largest deficits in Chicago history.” It takes a lot of other people’s money to line the pockets of your friends and allies – a lesson the Obama team learned well.
The Obama Whisperer article describes the incredible and pervasive influence and power held by Jarrett. It describes the fear she instills in everyone around her: “When I asked a longtime source who left the Obama White House years ago for his impressions of Jarrett, he confessed that he was too fearful to speak with me, even off the record.” The article also describes how she is the “chief architect” of President Obama’s “suffocating bubble,” where dissenting voices are shut down and “almost everything is raised to the level of personal loyalty.”