Critics have long-held senior White House advisor Valerie Jarrett a consigliere-like figure standing between President Obama and, well, everyone else. They suspect Jarrett enables what appears to be a profound personal narcissism, which is largely to blame for the president’s obvious inability to listen to the advice of others, or learn from his past policy mistakes.
Further, with good reason, critics on both sides have questioned the borderline inappropriate and certainly unprecedented treatment of a woman whose role and title(s) — senior advisor to the president, assistant to the president in charge of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, assistant to the president in charge of the Office of Public Engagement, the White House Council on Women and Girls — is too shadow-like and undefined.
“Jarrett seems to have a 24 hour, around the clock detail, with five or six agents full-time,” said Democratic operative Pat Caddell. “The media has been completely uninterested. We don’t provide security for our ambassador in Libya, but she needs a full Secret Service security detail. And nobody thinks there’s anything wrong with this. And nobody in the press will ask. What kind of slavish stoogery are they perpetrating here?”
The security detail assigned to Jarrett is completely unprecedented. After all, he is nothing more than a private citizen. In America, service to the president does not come with very, very expensive Secret Service perks.
“This country has reached the point of absurdity,” Cadell added. “There are people dead because we don’t have security details for them. But she’s privileged to have a full Secret Service detail on vacation?”
Sadly, as Caddell notes, the media elites have left both Jarrett’s White House role and record untouched. Undoubtedly, the details of Jarrett’s past if ever told by the media, would be extremely unpalatable to the American people. Her record of failed public-private partnerships, in which she represented some of the Chicago slums dirtiest slumlords, is even worse than some of her staunchest critics describe.
In 2008, Binyamin Appelbaum of the Boston Globe, chronicled in great detail the events that transpired while Valerie Jarrett was executive vice president of Grove Parc’s management firm Habitat Company. Basically, Jarrett was getting paid to ensure the government threw people out of downtrodden neighborhoods that her clients destroyed, then rebuild those neighborhoods using her clients as the benefactors.
“They are rapidly displacing poor people, and these companies are profiting from this displacement,” Matt Ginsberg-Jaeckle said at the time. Ginsberg-Jaeckle was with Southside Together Organizing for Power, a community-based group that was trying to help these tenants stay in the same neighborhoods.
Jarrett represented private companies paid by the government to build and manage the city’s affordable housing, but they only ever built and profited, leaving the management for, well, nobody. The neighborhoods went to pot and poor people froze in the Chicago winter, literally.
“The same exact people who ran these places into the ground now are profiting by redeveloping them,” Ginsberg-Jaeckle told Appelbaum.
Yet, somehow, this and other highly questionable dealings — in which, the Obamas were also involved — including a “patient-dumping scheme” she carried out with the now-first lady, weren’t newsworthy.
Now, on the heels of the president’s second devastating midterm defeat, with Obama’s presidency seen as a failure by a majority of the American people, the media have finally turned their attention to Jarrett.
“The media have identified the problem with the Obama presidency and want her tarred and feathered,” says Fox News’ resident mediate Howard Kurtz. “Or just fired. Or sidelined. Or made an ambassador to some faraway land. Her name is Valerie Jarrett.”
Kurtz points to a new, blistering piece by Noam Scheiber published in The New Republic, which highlights Jarrett’s bizarre influence with the president. An aide cited in the story calls her influence “pretty toxic,” while another says she’s regarded by others “as a spy.”
The piece confirms what critics have suspected for roughly 6 years, which is that Jarrett acts not only as the gate-keeper, but insulator and panderer to the president. Sadly, it is only now — when they frantically need to find some explanation for the failures of a man they so heavily invested their own credibility in — that Valerie Jarrett seems headed for the media chopping block.
Kurtz cites an argument by USA Today columnist Michael Wolff, whom he says “has an interesting take” on the media reversal, in particular from MSNBC.
“MSNBC’s problem is almost exactly the same as the Democrats’ problem: It built its future around a vivid and dramatic hero who, unfortunately, turned out to be both opaque and conflict averse. MSNBC now has a lineup of ever-righteous and often sulky defenders of President Barack Obama, who seem, not just to conservatives but to many liberals, too, bizarrely tone-deaf and lost in time”