Valerie Jarrett is not only one of President Barack Obama’s closest advisors; she also is one of the most radical, with close connections to the Chicago left that nurtured Obama in his early political career.
The Iranian-born Jarrett (her parents were American expatriates) found a foothold in Chicago politics through her marriage to Dr. William Robert Jarrett, whose father Vernon held sway as a columnist on the Chicago Sun-Times--for a time, the city’s only major black columnist.
In 1991, Vernon Jarrett enthusiastically promoted a Chicago visit by professor Derrick Bell, who was still on voluntary unpaid leave from Harvard Law School, in protest at the faculty’s refusal to hire visiting professor Regina Austin.
Barack Obama, who had joined Bell in that protest, had just graduated from Harvard and had begun work in Chicago at the law firm of Davis, Miner, Barnhill and Galland, a prominent local civil rights firm.
Bell’s visit had been arranged by the Community Renewal Society, a left-wing group that wanted Bell to help it launch a “racial justice agenda” across the Chicago area. He addressed the Society’s annual dinner, delivering a radical speech on the “permanence” of racism. Describing the civil rights movement as “childlike, trusting, believing, and hopelessly naive,” he suggested a more confrontational approach to race relations.
Vernon Jarrett enthusiastically plugged the dinner in his column in the Sun-Times on October 22, 1991, in radical, alarmist terms:
The featured speaker is Professor Derrick A. Bell, Jr. a distinguished sage whose courage ranks as high as his academic accomplishments.
This is the same African-American author of several monumental studies and volumes of research on human rights who took leave of his Harvard Law School professorship last year in protest of Harvard’s shortage of women and racial minorities on its law faculty. Professor Bell has since joined the law faculty at New York University.
Meanwhile, hard-line right-wingers are splashing themselves in the ecstasy of Clarence Thomas’ Senate confirmation for the Supreme Court, and, yes, despite denials, their hopes also were fanned by Ku Klux Klan-love David Duke’s big vote in the Louisiana gubernatorial race Saturday.
Their bliss will continue if on Friday morning they can gloat: “Despite the $60 individual dinner price, which is modest for such events, attendance was down from last year’s Community Renewal Society dinner.”
Vernon Jarrett’s audience was the radical Chicago political world in Chicago in which Valerie Jarrett was soon entrenched, and in which she facilitated Barack Obama’s rise.
Obama was not Valerie Jarrett’s only project. She saw to the appointment of Van Jones as White House “green jobs” czar, noting that “we’ve been watching him...for as long as he’s been active out in Oakland.” (That activity included an anti-American rally on Sep. 12, 2001.) Her authority in the White House is almost unchallenged, and on visits to Chicago, local Democratic judges, officials and activists flock to see her and curry influence.
In 2009, the same year Solyndra received its $535 million federal loan guarantee, the George Kaiser Family Foundation made a $10,000 donation to the Urban Health Initiative at the University of Chicago Medical Center. The foundation controls 35.7 percent of Solyndra.
Just months before Kaiser’s foundation poured tax-exempt cash into its coffers, Valerie Jarrett served as the medical center’s chairwoman. The initiative was created by none other than future First Larcenist Michelle Obama. In an earlier act of cronyism, Michelle “recommended” the center hire David Axelrod’s firm to provide PR in 2006. Indeed, the project employed a bevy of Obama’s Chicago cronies. In a 2008 story, The Washington Post reported:
One of Barack’s best friends, Eric Whitaker, is executive vice president at the center and is now in charge of the Urban Health Initiative. Hospital board member Kelly R. Welsh is executive vice president at Northern Trust Co., which extended the couple a $1.3 million home mortgage shortly after Barack Obama was elected to the U.S. Senate. Dan Shomon, Barack Obama’s former campaign manager, is a university lobbyist. Jarrett, Whitaker, Welsh and Shomon all declined to be interviewed or did not respond to requests.
Investigate Valerie Jarrett Over Deepening Role In Solyndra Scandal
One thing is beyond question: Jarrett holds unprecedented sway over the president. An Obama 2008 campaign official told the New York Times, “If you want him to do something, there are two people he’s not going to say no to: Valerie Jarrett and Michelle Obama.” Susan Sher, who helped Jarrett recruit Michelle Obama to the Chicago mayor’s office before Michelle married the president, said, “I don’t think either of them [the Obamas] made major decisions without talking to her,” adding that Jarrett failed to appreciate “how incredibly instrumental she’ll be in virtually everything” in the White House.
The president confirms Jarrett’s tremendous cache with him, personally and politically. In July, Obama told New York Times reporter Robert Draper, “I trust her completely…She is family.” Obama trusts Jarrett “to speak for me, particularly when we’re dealing with delicate issues.” When asked, he admitted he runs every decision by her
Without her patronage, it seems Van Jones would not be heard. A White House official told Politico Jones “did not go through the traditional vetting process”; instead, Jarrett interviewed Jones, a signal she bucked for his appointment. Jarrett gushed to the Netroots Nation conference: “We were so delighted to be able to recruit him into the White House. We were watching him…for as long as he’s been active out in Oakland. And all the creative ideas he has. And so now, we have captured that, and we have all that energy in the White House.”
This is the environment and political climate that created the Obama we are seeing evolve right before our very eyes. An Obama so arrogant that he threatens the Supreme Court if they decide to UPHOLD the Constitution.
With a Little Help from my (Radical) Friends
Who is this person to whom Jarrett is so indebted – and whom, we shall see, she calls a personal friend? Marilyn Katz provided “security” for Students for a Democratic Society at the 1968 Democratic Convention. Undercover Chicago policeman William Frapolly told prosecutors that during the Days of Rage, Katz showed protesters a new weapon to use against the police: “a cluster of nails that were sharpened at both ends, and they were fastened in the center.” Police later reported being hit by golf balls with nails through them, as well as excrement. Years later, Katz would insist her “guerrilla nails” were merely “a defensive weapon” to prevent “possible bad behavior by the police.”
A faux pas in front of a crowded room – even an off-the-record one – can be cruel.
At a black tie event over the weekend, White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett mistook the vice chief of staff of the Army for a waiter and asked him to get her a drink. She was, sources said, mortified when she later realized her mistake.
she has something no other adviser in the Obama White House ever will: ties to the president-elect and future first lady that go deeper than a political alliance. Ms. Jarrett is only a few years older than the Obamas, but her relationship with them can seem almost maternal. “I can count on someone like Valerie to take my hand and say, You need to think about these three things,” Mrs. Obama said. “Like a mom, a big sister, I trust her implicitly.”
Decades later, at the dinner that started their friendship, Ms. Jarrett and Mr. Obama bonded over their far-flung childhoods and initial confusion about race. “I wasn’t burdened by a personal history of prejudice,” she said. “It’s part of why I thought Barack could win.”
Ms. Jarrett, a lawyer with degrees from Stanford and the University of Michigan, first met Mr. Obama during her successful courtship of his fiancée, Michelle Robinson, for a job at City Hall, and from that night onward, she was someone with whom the young lawyers could discuss their ambitions. “They could talk openly about desires, wishes, dreams,” said Desiree Rogers, a friend.
The Obamas were from modest backgrounds, and Ms. Jarrett represented the sophistication and intellectual polish of Hyde Park, the Chicago neighborhood they shared. Her mother, Barbara Bowman, is a child psychologist, and through the generations her family had consistently broken barriers: her great-grandfather was the first black graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, her father the first black tenured professor in his department at the University of Chicago.
The Obamas were not her only protégés — Ms. Jarrett kept a database of them, in case a prospective employer called — but she drew them deep into her world, taking them to Sunday dinners at her parents’ house, where Hyde Park’s leading lights gathered over green beans and tomatoes from the garden. Eventually, she even invited the Obamas to vacation with her in the elite black enclaves of Martha’s Vineyard, introducing them to others in her high-achieving family, including a cousin, Ann Jordan, the wife of the Washington lawyer Vernon Jordan, to whom Ms. Jarrett has frequently turned for advice.
After the election, speculation that Ms. Jarrett might seek Mr. Obama’s Senate seat coursed through Chicago. After a career of helping formidable men, she could finally “be the sun,” as Marilyn Katz, a friend, put it. But the Obamas saw her place in Washington.
Back in March Obama's quest for the nomination was suddenly in peril, threatened by his longtime pastor's fiery words about race and injustice in America. It didn't matter that the words of Rev. Jeremiah Wright were sometimes years-old and had been taken largely out of context-a few minutes snatched from a lifetime of sermons. The words were all over Fox News and YouTube. The damage was done.
Obama called his senior staff and Jarrett together to discuss how to handle the crisis. All told, there were a half-dozen people in a conference room at Obama's Chicago headquarters, 233 N. Michigan Ave. The senator opened the floor for discussion.
"Barack's management style,'' Jarrett says, "promotes open, candid, provocative discussion in a setting where his advisers all feel safe opening up and sharing their opinions. Barack leads the discussion, but if one or two people are not weighing in, he will ask them their thoughts.''
Jarrett's position that day was clear. He should confront the issue of race head-on. "I knew that because of Barack's life experiences and many of our conversations, he had given a great deal of thought to the topic of race,'' she says. "He had mentioned earlier in the campaign that he thought he could provide a framework for a conversation about race in a way that could bring the American people together and heal so many wounds. My advice was to seize this opportunity, speak honestly, directly from his heart, and I had every confidence that his message would resonate broadly with the American people.''
In the end, it is always Obama's call and he quickly made it. He would deliver a speech-sermon-of his own in Philadelphia, professing once again his faith in America to heal and overcome. "People were eager,'' Jarrett says, "to understand Barack's perspective and he knew that with the 24-hour news cycle, time was of the essence.''
Still, it was a risky decision. Up to then, Obama had tried mightily to keep race out of the campaign. But Jarrett's advice to her old friend was simple: Trust your gut.
But for that crucial moment in the campaign, Jarrett did more than offer advice. She also supplied what turned out to be the moving conclusion to the speech, an anecdote about two Southerners, a young white woman and an elderly black man, coming together to get a biracial politician from the Midwest elected president.
Early in the primary season, Jarrett was doing her eyes-and-ears thing for Obama at a meeting of campaign volunteers in Franklin, S.C. A white, 23-year-old field organizer named Ashley Baia told the group that when she was a little girl her mother developed cancer and had lost her health insurance. To save money for medical expenses, Ashley and her family ate mustard and relish sandwiches. She told the room that she joined the Obama campaign to help millions of struggling children like she used to be. Then she asked everyone else to introduce themselves to Jarrett and reveal why they had come. "People brought up various issues,'' Jarrett says, "from health care to education to veteran's benefits.''
Lastly, it was an elderly black man's turn.
"I'm here,'' he said, "because of Ashley.''
The man had been visited by Baia and was so moved by her story of sacrifice on behalf of her mother that he had joined the campaign.
Jarrett first told Obama that story in January as they flew to Atlanta, where he was scheduled to deliver a speech on Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday. The story, Jarrett says, "symbolized Barack's goal of bringing people together.''
"He was very touched by the story and his immediate reaction was that the story was the missing piece for the conclusion of his MLK speech,'' she says. "He revised his speech that night and delivered it the next day.''
He used it again in Philadelphia.
Lesson: Take the time to develop personal relationships all along the way.
In the summer of 1989, Michelle Robinson told her mother she was going to concentrate on her law career and not worry about dating. She was 25 and had just finished her first year as an associate at Sidley & Austin, a corporate law firm in her home town of Chicago. Not long after, the firm assigned her to mentor a summer associate named Barack Obama.
Even then, there was a lot of buzz about this 27-year-old prodigy from Harvard Law School. Sidley didn't usually hire first-year law students as summer associates, so Barack's arrival was noteworthy. Martha Minow, a law professor at Harvard, told her father, Newton Minow, a high-ranking partner at Sidley, that Barack was possibly the most gifted student that she had ever taught. Michelle, who'd graduated from Harvard Law herself in 1988, felt annoyed by all the chattering. Why were people surprised that a black man might be articulate and capable?
Her own skepticism took a different form. His name struck her as odd, as did the fact that he had grown up in Hawaii. She assumed he would be "strange and overly intellectual" and that she would almost certainly dislike him.
Perhaps the set up of all set-ups !
Guess WHO "assigned" Barack to be "mentored" by Michelle. Hint: Bernadine Dohrn was also "working" there !
The fact that she was Obama's mentor made her feel self-conscious. She often recounts how she resisted when Barack asked her out, saying in an interview that she felt it would be "tacky" if they started to date because they were "the only two black people" at the firm.