Obama's Rasputin Moves into the Bunker
Politics, it is said, makes curious bedfellows, and the longstanding relationship between Barack Obama and presidential adviser and confidante Valerie Jarrett is curious indeed. It had become curiouser and curiouser with the news that Jarrett is moving into Obama’s D.C. home, which is to serve as the nerve center to the resistance to the presidency of Donald Trump. As the Daily Mail reports:
Barack Obama is turning his new home in the posh Kalorama section of the nation's capital -- just two miles away from the White House -- into the nerve center of the mounting insurgency against his successor, President Donald J. Trump.
Obama's goal, according to a close family friend, is to oust Trump from the presidency either by forcing his resignation or through his impeachment.
And Obama is being aided in his political crusade by his longtime consigliere, Valerie Jarrett, who has moved into the 8,200-square-foot, $5.3-million Kaloroma mansion with the former president and Michelle Obama, long time best friends.
Jarrett played a vital -- if at times low-key -- role in the Obama presidency. She lived in the White House, dined with the Obamas, and help shape his domestic and foreign policies.
That is a bit of an understatement. Hillary Clinton sought to be first female President of the United States but, had she won, she wouldn’t have been the first female to occupy and control the Oval Office (insert Monica Lewinsky joke here). That honor arguably goes to Valerie Jarrett, former Senior Adviser to President Obama.
Jarrett, born in Iran to American parents, has been with the Obamas since her days as Deputy Chief of Staff in the office of Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley, the younger.* She hired Michelle Obama, them Michelle Robinson to fill an opening in the mayor’s office. As Wikileaks describes the beginning of a long relationship:
In 1991, as deputy chief of staff to Mayor Richard Daley, Jarrett interviewed Michelle Robinson for an opening in the mayor's office, after which she immediately offered Robinson the job... Michelle Robinson asked for time to think and also asked Jarrett to meet Robinson's fiancé, Barack Obama. The three ended up meeting for dinner. After the dinner, Michelle took the job with the mayor's office, and Valerie Jarrett reportedly took the couple under her wing and "introduced them to a wealthier and better-connected Chicago than their own." Jarrett later took Michelle with her when Jarrett left the mayor's office to head Chicago's Department of Planning and Development.
The rest, as they say, is history. Not only did Valerie Jarrett become a mentor to the young Barack Obama, she soon became what Investor’s Business Daily called Obama’s Rasputin, someone who had more security than our personnel did in Benghazi:
She receives more protection than our Libyan ambassador, calls the president by his first name, dines and vacations with the First Family and had the power to call off three strikes against Osama bin Laden.
Ambassador Chris Stevens did not have a Marine detail in Benghazi, Libya. But White House senior adviser and Obama confidante Valerie Jarrett reportedly had a full Secret Service detail on vacation in Martha's Vineyard.
"Jarrett seems to have a 24-hour, around-the-clock detail, with five or six agents full time," Democratic pollster Pat Caddell said in an interview recently with Breitbart news. If Stevens had a similar escort, he'd probably be alive today. Such protection isn't usually available to senior advisers, but Jarrett is no ordinary adviser...
Indeed, she is not. She arguably has more influence over Obama than anyone with the possible exception of Michelle Obama herself. As IBD notes:
Her influence is shown by an account in Richard Miniter's book "Leading From Behind: The Reluctant President and the Advisors Who Decide for Him."
It relates that at the urging of Jarrett, Obama canceled the operation to kill Osama bin Laden on three occasions before finally approving the May 2, 2011, Navy SEAL mission. Seems she was concerned about the possible political harm to Obama if the mission failed.
Miniter writes that the president canceled the kill mission in January 2011, again in February and a third time in March, in each instance at the urging of Jarrett.
Miniter cites a source within the Joint Special Operations Command who had direct knowledge of the operation and its planning.
Edward Klein, author of the best-selling book about Obama, "The Amateur," once asked Obama if he ran every decision by Jarrett, and the president responded, "Absolutely." A former foreign editor of Newsweek and editor of the New York Times Magazine, Klein describes Jarrett as "ground zero in the Obama operation, the first couple's friend and consigliere."…
Her power and influence extends to staffing by the White House to a virtual veto power over foreign policy decisions. Valerie Jarrett undoubtedly had significant input into President Obama’s Munich-like deal with Iran, which kicks the nuclear can down the road to assured detonation over Israel, which Iran continues to threaten to wipe off the map when it is not wishing “death to America”. Her influence over President Obama is legendary:
The Iranian-born Jarrett (her parents were American-born expatriates) is the only staff member who regularly follows the president home from the West Wing to the residence and one of the few people allowed to call the president by his first name.
Noam Scheiber, writing in the November 9, 2014, New Republic, called Jarrett “The Obama Whisperer”, noting her power and influence and the fear she instilled in other staffers:
Even at this late date in the Obama presidency, there is no surer way to elicit paranoid whispers or armchair psychoanalysis from Democrats than to mention the name Valerie Jarrett. Party operatives, administration officials—they are shocked by her sheer longevity and marvel at her influence. 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.
This is not as irrational as it sounds. Obama has said he consults Jarrett on every major decision, something current and former aides corroborate. “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,” says Anita Dunn, Obama’s former communications director. Broader, even, than the role of running the West Wing. This summer, the call to send Attorney General Eric Holder on a risky visit to Ferguson, Missouri, was made by exactly three people: Holder himself, the president, and Jarrett, who were vacationing together on Martha’s Vineyard. When I asked Holder if Denis McDonough, the chief of staff, was part of the conversation, he thought for a moment and said, “He was not there.” (Holder hastened to add that “someone had spoken to him.”
Jarrett holds a key vote on Cabinet picks (she opposed Larry Summers at Treasury and was among the first Obama aides to come around on Hillary Clinton at State) and has an outsize say on ambassadorships and judgeships. She helps determine who gets invited to the First Lady’s Box for the State of the Union, who attends state dinners and bill-signing ceremonies, and who sits where at any of the above. She has placed friends and former employees in important positions across the administration -- “you can be my person over there,” is a common refrain.
And Jarrett has been known to enjoy the perks of high office herself. When administration aides plan “bilats,” the term of art for meetings of two countries’ top officials, they realize that whatever size meeting they negotiate -- nine by nine, eight by eight, etc. -- our side will typically include one less foreign policy hand, because Jarrett has a standing seat at any table that includes the president.
Apparently now she will also have a room and an office in his house. Valerie Jarrett’s hold over President Obama is as mysterious as it has proven dangerous. She is Obama’s Rasputin and will have great influence as the former community organizer wages guerilla warfare from his Washington, D.C. bunker.
Daniel John Sobieski is a freelance writer whose pieces have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, Human Events, Reason Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications.