'The other side of Obama's brain'

That phrase is used to describe Valerie Jarrett, the as-yet little known key adviser to Barack Obama. A long profile of Ms. Jarrett by Don Terry of the Chicago Tribune reveals some interesting data on the Obama inner circle. He describes her role as

"...straight-talking, fiercely loyal, well-connected, discreet, disciplined, protective confidant/friend/sounding board/ surrogate sibling who has known the candidate since before he or she became the next big thing."

Jarrett is an old hand in the Daley Machine. It was a search for a city job that brought her first into contact with the Obamas. In fact, she offered Michelle a job in the same Machine her father had worked in, as a precinct worker/city employee.

In 1991, Jarrett was the deputy chief of staff for Mayor Daley when a tall, striking-looking African-American lawyer named Michelle Robinson walked into her office for a job interview. The young woman had the whole package: Princeton University undergrad, Harvard Law School, two years at a prestigious corporate law firm. [....]

Jarrett offered the young lawyer a job that day. But Robinson said she wanted to think it over. A couple of days later, she called Jarrett back and asked if Jarrett would have dinner with her and her fiance, Barack Obama.

It was a match mad in heaven, and soon Michelle was a city employee. Coincidentally or not, Jarrett is also vice chair of the board of trustees of the University of Chicago, according to the article, which would have made her in a sense a supervisor of Michelle Obama before she went on leave from her jobs as a community outreach manager (what Mr. Terry discreetly calls "an executive") for the University Medical Center. Presumably Jarrett may have had a voice in the decision of the Medical Center to nearly triple Michelle's salary once her husband was elected to the United States Senate.

Her day job (which she still keeps despite her major campaign role) is:

"CEO of the Habitat Company, a major real-estate firm and court-appointed receiver of Chicago public housing, overseeing the beleaguered agency's long, painful struggle to desegregate by building new mixed-income developments."

Evidently Tony Rezko is not the sole Obama associate to earn a good living in the realm of publicly-subsidized housing in Chicago. But unlike Rezko, she has not been indicted or convicted of any crimes. That's a mark of distinction in those circles.

Jarreett certainly is an interesting figure, worthy of much more attention. According to the article, she may be headed for a high position in an Obama administration:
Word is that Jarrett is in line for a big job in Washington if Obama becomes president. Perhaps she will be tapped to head housing or commerce. Or she may simply be First Friend, wielding power and influence behind the scenes like her cousin-in-law, the former civil rights leader, Vernon Jordan, did during the Clinton White House years.

As the article makes clear in dribs and drabs, Jarrett is a Daley Machine Chicago power player, and a vital link between Obama and the Machine.