Valerie Jarrett Every Bit as Popular with Obama Insiders as You Would Expect

One CEO said, “When we go to the White House we talk to people we wouldn’t hire.”

Barack Obama, Valerie Jarrett

This doesn't come from some conservative book, but from a liberal portrait of the Obama White House and it sketches Jarrett as controlling, vindictive, arrogant and incompetent.

That seems about right. And this is the woman who has Obama's ear.

Valerie Jarrett: Alter writes that Jarrett, a big sister figure to the Obamas, is “so close to the family [met Barack and Michelle in 1991 before they were married when she interviewed Michelle for a job in City Hall] that she went on vacation with them.”  Others, envious of her access, called her the “Keeper of the Essence.”  Alter describes her as “the defender, protector, and avenger for the first family.”  She was also called the “Night Stalker” because she “could and often did wander up to the family quarters after hours.”  She regularly accompanied Obama on travels abroad and, although foreign policy was not a particular interest or responsibility of hers, “she would frequently take one of the half-dozen seats alongside the president in bilateral meetings, which meant one less seat for a policy expert.”

Staffers feared her, but didn’t  like or trust her. At meetings she said little or nothing, instead lingering afterwards to express her views directly to the President, creating anxiety for her underlings and insulting them by saying, “I don’t talk just to hear myself talking.” Staffers engaged in “a nervous pastime” of “interpreting sighs, glances, cleared throats, even terms of endearment.” People who had not performed to her standards were terrified of receiving emails from her, even emails that contained the line, “I forgive you, sweetie,” which, Alter explains, is “supposed to mean you’re back in,” but doesn’t really. He quotes one former staffer as warning, “If she calls you `sweetie,’ run!”

Jimmy Carter was infamous for deciding such nitpicky details as who could play on the White House tennis courts; for Obama, Jarrett made those decisions, controlling, “who got invited to everything from state dinners to the small party for family and inner staff at the White House swimming pool on the 4th of July” and “what gift to give to a foreign leader or who should get the Presidential Medal of Freedom…”

Portrayed as a woman who was “often uncomfortable with people she didn’t know,” Alter writes that Jarrett “put out the word early on [that] ‘We’re not making new friends.’” (There were a couple of exceptions, such as Attorney General Eric Holder and his wife.)

One of Jarrett’s White House responsibilities—among her official titles is senior counselor to the President—was to be the administration’s liaison with business leaders, but some of these men (Alter specifies they were all men) were unimpressed. Alter quotes one unidentified CEO as saying, “When we go to the White House we talk to people we wouldn’t hire.”

Unfortunately Democratic voters did.