Valerie Jarrett, the CEO of Obama Inc.

jarrett_ny_092210For eight years, the media envisioned Dick Cheney as the ‘evil genius’ behind the Bush White House, but few in the media have wanted to take a long look at the ‘evil genius’ behind the Obama White House.

The populist grass roots myth died shortly after Obama was elected and while plenty of books have been written about the internal workings of the Obama campaign and administration, unlike the books written about Bush, they rarely inform mainstream media news coverage. When these books and articles come from within the media, the authors are not attacked and their work isn’t discredited, it simply gets compartmentalized into the wonksphere and away from daily news coverage.

This compartmentalization is the reason why media coverage of Obama remains largely unchanged and very little attention is paid to the non-cabinet level personalities who actually make policy. Colin Powell’s dissatisfaction with his lack of influence under Bush was widely covered, while Hillary Clinton’s was not. The Powell implosion led the media to exaggerate the role of Dick Cheney, but no one asks who really had the final say on foreign policy under Obama if Hillary Clinton didn’t.

The Obama White House is a radical departure from previous administrations. It’s a permanent campaign, not just for the obvious reason that it is constantly using the tactics of the campaign, fundraising, attacking and performing, but also because it operates like a campaign reducing the traditional forms of an administration to formalities.

Cabinet members have little influence. Decisions are made by White House staffers, many from the Center for American Progress, who are the ones running the unaccountable permanent campaign.

There is no Obama administration. There is an Obama campaign. And that campaign is part of an organization built around a single figure; Obama Inc.

Obama Inc. has more in common with the type of organization built around a celebrity like Beyonce than a conventional political organization. It can handle everything from fundraising, branding to viral marketing, but like the inner circles of top celebrities, the most influential person in the organization is the one who can soothe, pamper and cater to the celebrity’s mercurial personality.

Valerie Jarrett’s role as CEO of Obama Inc. confuses those who expect a more conventional arrangement. Jarrett is less Dick Cheney and more Colonel Parker or Helen Kushnick; a powerful enigmatic figure ruthlessly dedicated to her star whose power comes from his dependency.

Obama is the star of Obama Inc., the grinning figure who goes out on stage and cracks jokes while selling overpriced health insurance to the country. Valerie Jarrett is his manager, confidante and gatekeeper. Officially Jarrett is a senior adviser with a defined title and function, but Obama Inc. does few things officially and unofficially, Jarrett has the last word on everything.

Jarrett merges the personal and the political. Obama may chat with numerous advisers, but it’s Valerie who goes back to eat with Michelle and the family. A cabinet member is lucky to catch Obama’s attention once. Valerie Jarrett has it full time, day or night, leading to her nickname of “Night Stalker.”

If Obama skips security briefings, it’s because they, like so much of the formal infrastructure of government, are there just for show. The real briefing will come from or through Jarrett and it will be massaged into the talking points that communicate only what she wants them to.

The aggressive approach that Obama Inc. has come to be known for is all Valerie. Bill Clinton’s sharp edge was Hillary. It was Hillary who kept the grudges of Clintonworld burning while Bill tried to work with his rivals and enemies. In Obama Inc, Valerie Jarrett occupies Hillary’s role, urging greater ideological fealty to the left and uncompromising attacks on the right, while dominating Obama in a way that Hillary never dominated Bill.

Valerie Jarrett got away with too much during her time in Chicago politics to have learned caution. Where more conventional Democrats would slow down, Valerie Jarrett speeds up; a successful career of corruption and leftist politics has given her a sense of political and moral invulnerability. But that doesn’t mean that Jarrett lacks skill; like her boss, what she lacks is a sense of responsibility.

Obama is a political dilettante whose skills are entirely people skills. Valerie Jarrett’s people skills are negligible and concentrated on only one person, but unlike her boss, protégé and adopted son, she has the endurance and drive to pursue an issue indefinitely.

Barack Obama isn’t driven. Throughout his entire adult life there have been people there to open doors for him. It seemed natural for him to let Valerie Jarrett drive his political career and his administration to do the things that he lacks the attention span or the focus to do.

In exchange, his administration represents Jarrett’s ideological vision of a hard left turn for the country.

Valerie Jarrett doesn’t always get her way. She managed to talk Obama out of going after Osama three times, but eventually lost the argument. But Jarrett has made her mark on the country and the world by winning more arguments than she loses by leveraging her unprecedented level of access to chip away at him with her personal knowledge of his weaknesses; what Michelle Obama described as his “soft spots”.

Valerie Jarrett’s strength is framing political arguments in personal terms. Through her that has also become Obama’s strength. For Obama, Jarrett and the rest of the left, the political is personal. And their bond is also political and personal.

Jarrett and Obama are both Third Culture activists with a background in the Muslim world and left-wing politics, who came up the ladder through their involvement with corrupt political non-profits and equally corrupt Chicago politics. Both have dipped their toes in the narrow interests of the urban black community while having political agendas that transcended theirs on a global scale. And both have deep wells of resentment.

Obama may be married to Michelle, but he is closer to Valerie. Jarrett protects him from his job by controlling access to him. As his gatekeeper, Jarrett controls everything from dinner invites to the czars who have more power than many cabinet members. And when each meeting ends, it’s Valerie Jarrett who privately provides the final summary and makes the concluding argument to Barack Obama.

By becoming the gatekeeper to the Oval Office, Valerie Jarrett has more control over domestic and foreign policy than anyone else making her the closest thing to the president. Obama may be the public face of Obama Inc., but when the cameras dim and the teleprompters are turned off, it’s Valerie Jarrett who calls the shots.

Obama may be reading a teleprompter on stage, but Valerie Jarrett is the woman behind the curtain.

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  • doctorzombe

    I’ve been telling people for a long time now that Jarret is Obama’s puppet master.
    Her relationship with the Obamas is kind of creepy.

  • nightspore

    I think there are some fine insights on Obama in this article. At times I’ve had the feeling that, despite his vanity and his ambitions, he’s the closest thing to Chauncey Gardiner we’ve ever had in the White House.

    As far as Valerie being his pupeteer, well perhaps, but I’d say she’s also something of a sorcerer’s apprentice. These are little people in big, big world. In their position, it’s easy to overrate them.

  • simonzee1

    Consider this….Egypt is taking the unprecedented step of saying they will execute hundreds of protestors? Truly shocking! Why? Could it be that right now….countries are seeing the effects of the West legitamising coups in other countries like the Ukraine… where they are trying to advance their interests and are deeply worried. No different a response atfer Libya with a spike in defence spending or a spike in the purchasing of ammo and guns when Obama talked of further gun controls. These are both primal and high order intellectual responses. In fact the primal kicks off the higher order thinking. Might they not be afraid of the precedent this sets for stable governance between elections?

    Look at the storming of the Libyan congress…Taiwan…Spain…South America. Egypt is sending a clear message that storming public places and places of government will no longer be tolerated. Other governments…no doubt…will follow suit.

    It could also radicalise future Occupy Movements in the West… should they arise through testing their own limits of protest.

    Once again you can apportion the dramatic nature of these punishments in Egypt in part…if not in large part…to what has happened in the Arab Spring and in Ukraine.

    Understand this….people do not need to make cognitive connections between events and articulate them…they can more generally process these sub consciously and then form their ideas and behavior response particularly from a primal instinct.

    Western intellectuals fail to understand the effect of the power of  subconscious filtering from the most uneducated to educated mind.

    Their is an equality of interpretation here that is remarkably the same…instinctive…primal… that is survival based and highly developed. What I am saying is….don’t treat people like idiots whoever they are and however educated they might be.

    This is how I predicted and explained the reasons for the streets of London burning after the false… poor “peaceful protestor” labels were given to protestors in the Arab Spring where they were engaged in burning buildings and carrying guns.

    They were painted as peaceful by news outlets and most notably by the BBC with the BBC later consucting a whitewash review of the reporting of the Arab Spring. The youth in London just acted out what was legitamised overseas.

    Under this definition many of those protesting in London…as the streets of London burnt… could be described as peaceful protestors. Do you see how propaganda trips upon itself?

    As I said governments need more theologians as advisers. I would not be fit to tie C.S Lewis bootlaces….but that is the kind of intellect you are all missing….

    Today we are all missing the broad minds of the likes of Newton and Darwin who had broad minds…whose first degrees were in theology and who knew how to bring in ideas from all sources and develop credible theories. 

    Christian theology has been pushed to the periphery and now it needs a place at the table to provide advice in domestic and international platforms  as do other religious scholars.