- Close friend and adviser of President Barack Obama
Jarrett's maternal grandfather was a Chicagoan named Robert Taylor, who in the 1940s was involved with such communist fronts as the American Peace Mobilization and the Chicago Civil Liberties Committee. Also a member of these groups was Frank Marshall Davis, the communist journalist who in the 1970s would mentor a young Barack Obama.
Jarrett's mother (and Robert Taylor's daughter) is early-childhood-education author Barbara Taylor Bowman, who co-founded a Chicago-based graduate school in child development known as the Erikson Institute, named after the psychoanalyst Erik Erikson; in 1950 Erikson became a hero to the left by choosing to resign from his professorship at the University of California rather than sign an anti-communist loyalty oath as the school required. Indicative of the Erikson Institute's radical political orientation is the fact that its board of trustees has included, in addition to Bowman, such figures as Tom Ayers (father of the former Weather Underground terrorist and lifelong Marxist Bill Ayers) and Bernardine Dohrn (longtime wife of Bill Ayers). Bill Ayers, for his part, called Bowman “a neighbor and friend” in his 1997 book A Kind and Just Parent, noting that his neighbors also included Louis Farrakhan and “writer Barack Obama.”
Jarrett earned a B.A. in psychology from Stanford University in 1978, and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Michigan Law School in 1981. In 1983 she married Dr. William Robert Jarrett, son of the Chicago Sun-Times reporter Vernon Jarrett. Vernon Jarrett was a pioneering black journalist who in the 1940s wrote columns for the communist-influenced Chicago Defender extolling Communist poet Langston Hughes and lifelong Stalinists W.E.B. DuBois and Paul Robeson. Also in the 1940s, Mr. Jarrett was a leader of the Chicago chapter of American Youth for Democracy—youth wing of the Communist Party USA. He also served on a publicity committee for the Packinghouse Workers Union, a Chicago-based entity dominated by the CPUSA. In each of these endeavors, Mr. Jarrett had close contact with Frank Marshall Davis.
Mr. He freelanced at Kansas City’s The Call from 1954-58, then returned to Chicago to become the first nationally syndicated black columnist for the Chicago Tribune, and still later wrote for the Chicago Sun-Times. Mr. Jarrett once sat on a union publicity committee (for the communist-controlled Packinghouse Workers Union) with Frank Marshall Davis, the Communist poet who occasionally counseled the young Barack Obama. When Vernon Jarrett died in 2004, he was saluted in the pages of People’s Weekly Worker, the house organ of the Communist Party USA.
Valerie Jarrett entered Chicago politics in 1987 as Deputy Corporation Counsel for Finance and Development in the administration of Harold Washington, the city's first African-American mayor. Jarrett's father-in-law, whom The Washington Post called “a key influence in [Harold] Washington's decision to run for the Chicago mayoralty,” may have facilitated Valerie's rise through Chicago’s political ranks.
After Washington’s death in 1987, Valerie Jarrett worked for his successor, Richard M. Daley, whom she served as Deputy Chief of Staff. In 1991 Jarrett and her colleague Susan Sher recruited to Chicago's City Hall Michelle Robinson (the future Michelle Obama), who at the time was engaged to Barack Obama. Jarrett quickly became a trusted confidante of both the Obamas.
From 1992 through 1995, Jarrett served the Daley administration as Commissioner of the Department of Planning and Development; from 1995 to 2005, she chaired the Chicago Transit Board. From 1995 to 2008, she was CEO of The Habitat Company, a real estate firm headed by Daniel Levin (cousin of Senator Carl Levin and Representative Sander Levin of Michigan). Marilyn Katz, an activist/public-affairs consultant with close ties to City Hall (and a former Students for a Democratic Society radical) introduced Jarrett to Daniel Levin.
From 2000 to 2007, Jarrett was a board member of the Chicago Stock Exchange. She currently serves as Chairman of the University of Chicago Medical Center's Board of Trustees; Vice Chairman of the University of Chicago's Board of Trustees; a Trustee of Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry; and a Board of Directors member of USG Corporation, a Chicago-based building-materials company.
In 2008 Jarrett co-chaired the Obama-Biden Transition Project. After that, she was appointed to a prominent position in the Obama administration: Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President for Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs.
Jarrett became one of President Obama’s (and Mrs. Obama’s) closest and most trusted advisers. An Obama 2008 campaign official told the New York Times, “If you want [Barack Obama] to do something, there are two people [he's] not going to say no to: Valerie Jarrett and Michelle Obama.” Also in 2008, the aforementioned Susan Sher, who had helped Jarrett recruit Michelle Obama to the Chicago mayor’s office in 1991, emphasized “how incredibly instrumental [Jarrett will] be in virtually everything” in the White House.
Barack Obama confirms Jarrett’s tremendous cache with him, personally and politically. In July 2009, 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, the President admitted that he runs every decision by her.
“We have kind of a mind meld,” Jarrett said of herself and the President. “And chances are, what he wants to do is what I’d want to do.”
Chicago tycoon Martin Nesbitt identified the source of Jarrett’s power in the fact that she establishes both Michelle and Barack Obama's “whole notion of authenticity.” According to Nesbitt, Jarrett channels the Obamas’ inner voice, telling them, for instance: “That’s not you. You wouldn’t say that. Somebody else is saying that. Barack Obama wouldn’t say that.” Jarrett told Vogue magazine, “I kind of know what makes them [the Obamas] who they are.”
Jarrett is deeply concerned with racial issues. After the Jeremiah Wright tapes threatened to sink Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, it was Jarrett who encouraged Obama to give his “race speech” at Constitution Hall. African-American administration staffers have said that without Jarrett's patronage, “their opinions and the often-legitimate concerns voiced by black leaders like [Al] Sharpton would have been thoroughly disregarded by the white-dominated senior staff.” (Emphasis added.)
When White House press secretary Robert Gibbs tried to downplay Obama’s assertion (during the 2008 campaign) that Republicans were emphasizing the fact that Obama “doesn’t look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills,” Jarrett instructed white staffers: “You guys, you’re not getting this issue right.” After Jarrett’s intervention, candidate Obama told his white staffers that they were too “gun-shy on race issues.” A campaign source revealed, “moving forward, the candidate made it very clear to us that we were just a bunch of white people who didn’t get it – which, by the way, was true.”
After Obama's inauguration in January 2009, Jarrett successfully pushed to loosen restrictions barring government officials from meeting with lobbyists, a rule enshrined in Obama’s executive memo on the Recovery Act, for fear that other “legitimate” concerns – raised by “civil rights organizations whose directors happen to be registered lobbyists – will not be heard.”
Without Jarrett’s patronage, the self-identified communist revolutionary Van Jones would not have gotten his appointment as the Obama administration's Green Jobs Czar in March 2009. A White House official told Politico that Jones “did not go through the traditional vetting process”; instead, Jarrett interviewed Jones, a signal that she pushed for his appointment. Jarrett gushed to the Netroots Nation conference:
“We were so delighted to be able to recruit him [Van Jones] 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.”
In early 2009 Jarrett lobbied President Obama to create the office of Chief Diversity Officer within the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), a position filled soon thereafter by Mark Lloyd, an Alinskyite and a former senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.
Jarrett also helped recruit Obama's Regulatory Czar, Cass Sunstein, who supports the Fairness Doctrine, has argued that Americans should “celebrate tax day,” and believes that animals should have legal standing to sue humans.
Moreover, Jarrett's office approved the September 2009 invitation of Jameel Jaffer to a White House Ramadan dinner. Jaffer runs the ACLU's "national security project." According to The American Spectator:
"Jaffer is a cause célèbre to the far left for his career of litigating against the United States in support of terrorists and radical Islamists, and has proudly touted his awards from groups like CAIR.
"'We had other names on the list for invitations, but Jarrett's office wanted Jaffer in the room. We were told it was important,' says a White House source. 'It was made clear that his presence was something senior folks here wanted to happen.'
"Jaffer has filed lawsuits challenging the FBI's 'national security letter' authority [and] the constitutionality of warrantless wiretaps. [He] has been a leader in pushing for the shut down of Guantánamo Bay, and providing legal rights to terrorists held by the United States overseas in such countries as Iraq and Afghanistan. His efforts enabled the leaking of 'torture photos' out of Iraq and Afghanistan, and some sources inside the Central Intelligence Agency believe he was one of the lawyers who provided legal advice to the Department of Justice to pursue an investigation into enhanced interrogation techniques used by the CIA."
In September 2011, Jarrett said the following about what she viewed as the proper role of government: “We have to give people a livelihood so they can provide for their families.... His [President Obama's] is a moral vision. It's a vision based very deeply in values and taking care of 'the least of these.' And making sure that we are creating a country that's a country for everybody, not just for the very, very wealthy. We are working hard to lift people out of poverty and give them a better life, a footing, and that’s what government is supposed to do.”
In his 2012 book, Leading From Behind, author Richard Miniter reveals that Jarrett, prior to the May 2011 U.S. killing of Osama bin Laden, had repeatedly urged President Obama not to take out the al Qaeda leader, prompting Obama to cancel the mission on three separate occasions.
In March 2012, Jarrett was a major presenter at J Street’s 3rd annual conference.
A September 2012 article about Jarrett described her as “the only staff member who regularly follows the president home from the West Wing to the residence, a practice that has earned her the nickname ‘the Night Stalker.’” The article further identified Jarrett as the person responsible for a number of controversial Obama administration policy decisions, including the healthcare-reform bill's call for an insurance mandate for contraceptives, abortifacients, and sterilization procedures; President Obama's decision to sue the state of Arizona for its immigration-enforcement statute (SB-1020); and the president's decision to allow illegal immigrants to apply for work permits.
In October 2012 it was revealed that for several months, Jarrett, who had no experience in international negotiations, had been leading secret negotiations with representatives of Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, in an effort to develop normalized relations between the U.S. and Iran.
A few days before the November 2012 presidential election, a representative from Jarrett's office quoted Jarrett as having told several senior staffers the following:
“After we win this election, it’s our turn. Payback time. Everyone not with us is against us and they better be ready because we don’t forget. The ones who helped us will be rewarded, the ones who opposed us will get what they deserve. There is going to be hell to pay. Congress won’t be a problem for us this time. No election to worry about after this is over and we have two judges ready to go.”
Portions of this profile are adapted from the article, "Valerie Jarrett: The Next Van Jones," written by Ben Johnson and published by FrontPageMag.com on September 14, 2009.
Valerie Jarrett’s Influence on Obama
Valerie Jarrett is President Obama’s single most important and influential adviser. No one else in the White or the entire administration is as close to Obama. She has been described as everything from his “right-hand woman” to like a sister and even a mother to Obama. To cite some mainstream/leftist sources: The New York Times says she’s Obama’s “closest friend in the White House,” his “envoy,” his “emissary,” and his “all-purpose ambassador.” The Times calls her the “ultimate Obama insider.” Dana Milbank says her connection to Obama is “deep and personal” and that she’s “the real center of Obama’s inner circle.”
Obama himself calls her one of his “oldest friends” and says “I trust her completely.”
As for Jarrett, she says that she and Obama have a “shared view of where the United States fits in the world.” She says they “have kind of a mind meld.” She’s says that “chances are, what he wants to do is what I’d want to do.”
We need to understand the role Valerie Jarrett plays in Obama's private and political life.
"If it wasn't for Valerie Jarrett, there'd be no Barack Obama to complain about," starts Klein's chapter on Jarrett. He quotes Michelle Obama on Jarrett's influence over her husband: "She knows the buttons, the soft spots, the history, the context."
No one outside Michelle has the access or power over Obama's decision-making like Jarrett does. Here's an odd little fact that gives some insight into what kind of president Obama is: Michelle, Michelle's mother, and Valerie, and only a few others in Washington, are allowed to call Barack by his first name. After work, Jarrett joins Obama at night in the Family Quarters, where she dines often with the First Family. She goes on vacation with them.
Jarrett's title is the weird mouthful "Assistant to the President for Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs." She is the gatekeeper, but she is also much more than that. She occupies Karl Rove's and Hillary's old office and has an all-access pass to meetings. She shows up at the National Security Council, at meetings on the economy and budget. She stays behind to advise Obama on what to think and do. Obama uses her as his left-wing conscience. Klein's sources describe how at each pressing issue, Obama turns to ask her, "What do you think the right thing to do is?" As president, he likes to have her next to him "as the voice of authentic blackness in a White House that is staffed largely by whites."
A longtime friend told Klein that Jarrett is the "eyes, ears and nose" of the Obamas. She tells them whom to trust, who is saying what, whom to see at home and abroad. Michelle wants her there: "I told her ... it would give me a sense of comfort to know that (Barack) had somebody like her there by his side." As Obama told the New York Times, "Valerie is one of my oldest friends. ... I trust her completely."
To understand why Obama relies so heavily on Jarrett, we must remember the president's identity crisis as a black man, which is the main subject of his memoir, Dreams from My Father. Valerie Jarrett's adoption of the Obamas as her friends and protégés in Chicago's upper-crust black society was one of the greatest things that ever happened to Obama. Until becoming a community organizer, Obama tells us he felt himself to be an inauthentic American black. Nothing in his life helped him understand or fit into the American black community.
Within a few weeks of Obama's birth, conceived out of wedlock as he was, his mother moved away to a different college, leaving Obama's African birth father behind in Honolulu. There may have been a shotgun wedding or not -- in the memoir, Obama says he is not sure. The only time Barack set eyes on his father was a brief visit when he was ten. Our president lived with his white mother, then with her and her Indonesian husband in Indonesia from age six to ten. He was so unhappy that he chose to leave his mother and live with his white grandparents back in America. Obama's America was the tolerant, wealthy American world of Honolulu's top prep school.
His only black experience was his grandfather's creepy old friend, Frank Marshall Davis, a card-carrying Communist and self-disclosed pederast, who was Obama's voice of authentic blackness. One result of this lonely and unhappy childhood as a mixed-race child was Barack Obama's envy problem. The key to understanding Jarrett's power over the president is that Obama didn't just envy people with normal parents and loving, successful fathers. He envied American blacks, especially those who grew up in intact black families, knowing who they were, comfortable in their black skin.
Valerie Jarrett reflects Obama in many ways. Like himself, Valerie looks more white than black. Her mother had three white grandparents, and her father was black. Like Obama, she lived in the Muslim world for part of her childhood, when her father practiced medicine in Iran. Like Obama, she is a committed leftist. But there are crucial differences. Her father was not a drunk Kenyan polygamist like Obama's, but a famous pathologist and geneticist. Her mother was not a leftist expatriate like Obama's, but a distinguished psychologist. Valerie married into Chicago's black elite, the top rung of African-American society. She went to Stanford, got a law degree from Michigan, and became Mayor Richard Daley's deputy chief of staff, "the public black face" of his administration.
When Valerie Jarrett hired Michelle to work for Daley and befriended her, the Obamas gained access to the exclusive world of upper-class black Chicago politics. Valerie knew everyone whom it was important to know in black and Jewish money circles. She gave Barack entrée and legitimacy. She financed and promoted his ambitions for national office.
Obama finally belonged. Not that Jarrett's record in Chicago was anything to be proud of. Jarrett was known for her corruption and incompetence. Daley finally had to fire her after a scandal erupted over her role in misuse of public funds in the city's substandard public housing. She went on to become CEO of Habitat Executive Services, pulling down $300,000 in salary and $550,000 in deferred compensation. Again, she managed a housing complex that was seized by government inspectors for slum conditions. The scandal didn't matter to Obama. The sordid corruption was all part of Jarrett's Chicago success story.
Every insider in Chicago told Klein the same thing: Jarrett has no qualifications to be the principal advisor to the president of the United States. She doesn't understand how Washington works, how relations with Congress work, how the federal process works. She doesn't understand how the economy works, how the military works, how national security works. But she understands how Obama works.
The president turns to Valerie Jarrett for definitive advice on all these issues. She has given him terrible advice over and over, and still he turns to her.
Her true job is to make Obama feel proud of himself. When Obama looks at Jarrett, he sees himself as whole and good and real. He is no longer the fake black, the fatherless kid flailing around in a white world, tortured by the unfairness of it all. She fills the emptiness at the core of his identity. She admires and adores him. Jarrett told New Yorker editor David Remnick that the president is "just too talented to do what ordinary people do." And the icing on the cake -- she shares his left-wing politics that project unfairness out onto white America.
Obama relies on Jarrett to create the White House bubble he likes to live in, where his narcissism is stroked and his desire to do the big, left-wing thing is encouraged. Jarrett is the doorman. She runs access to the president. As Klein puts it, she guards him from meeting with "critics and complainers who might deflate his ego." No one gets past Jarrett who has an incompatible point of view.
Jarrett pushed ObamaCare. At the beginning of Obama's presidency, there was pressure on Obama to focus on the economic crisis. Rahm Emanuel advised a small, bipartisan health care reform with popular items such as coverage for young adults -- to get it passed quickly and focus on the country's money problems. Jarrett urged the president to be true to his left-wing agenda. She was all for having Reid-Pelosi create the ObamaCare assault on the American health system and ramming it through on a one-party vote, using Chicago-style politics, while Obama crossed the country doing what he does best: make speeches. Obama liked Jarrett's idea. Emanuel is now out of the White House.
Jarrett pushed the Solyndra fiasco. Jarrett promoted Solyndra because one of her richest Chicago connections, billionaire George Kaiser, a top Obama bundler, had a 35% share in Solyndra. Kaiser visited the White House sixteen times.
Larry Summers, the director of the president's National Economic Council, warned Obama that the federal government should not get involved in venture capital of any sort. Summers understood that crony capitalism sabotages economic growth. Huge government funding distorts and destroys whatever market segment it touches, replacing economic decisions with political ones.
A member of Obama's finance committee warned the president that Solyndra was going bankrupt. But it is Obama and Valerie who see eye to eye, and they saw the value to Obama of rewarding his political cronies. It worked fine in Chicago. Larry Summers is now out of the White House.
Jarrett pushed Obama to take on the Catholic Church over contraception, arguing that it would appeal to single women (she was right) and that religious freedom isn't important (she was wrong). Bill Daley, who had replaced Rahm Emmanuel as chief of staff, argued against Obama pushing contraception on the Church and invited Archbishop Timothy Cardinal Dolan of New York to meet with a displeased Obama, who didn't appreciate hearing from the Church. Daley is now out of the White House.
Valerie Jarrett is the most powerful woman in Washington. She has guided the president's decisions on health care, the budget, the stimulus, the deficit, foreign affairs.
So when Jarrett told Obama that the mission to kill bin Laden was too politically risky, and to play it safe, it is entirely plausible to believe that the president listened to her. It is consistent with everything we know about Obama's dependence on her. According to Miniter's source in the U.S. Military Joint Special Operations Command, Obama listened to her for four months, dithering and deciding no the first three times the military told him that the time to get bin Laden was now.
In The Amateur, Klein reports that another worry won out. Obama was even more scared of the political fallout if voters learned he'd passed up the chance to get bin Laden. What decided him wasn't the national interest, but politics. For once, the president disagreed with Valerie Jarrett.
The New York Times calls her Barack Obama’s “old hometown mentor,” “closest friend in the White House,” “all-purpose ambassador,” “skillful envoy,” “emissary,” and the “ultimate Obama insider.” The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank dubs her “the real center of Obama’s inner circle,” with ties to the president that are “deep and personal.” A profile in the Post’s “WhoRunsGov.com,” says she has been involved in “almost all” of Barack and Michelle Obama’s “major decisions.” The Wall Street Journal identifies her as the “essential member” of President Obama’s “inner set.” The Chicago Tribune proclaims her “the president’s right-hand woman.” Rahm Emanuel calls her “a very dear friend” and “valuable ally” to Barack Obama.
And Obama himself calls her one of his “oldest friends,” who is “like a sibling to me…I trust her completely.”
Who is this mystery woman of extraordinary influence? Who is this invisible hand behind Obama? She is Valerie Jarrett, President Obama’s close friend, confidant, and secret weapon, known to Washington insiders, but unknown to the folks in the hinterland.
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.
In addition to the dinner, Bell was invited to conduct a workshop with leading Chicago community organizers. Those invited included Obama’s pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, as well as Father Michael Pfleger, both of whom became notorious during the 2008 presidential campaign.
Obama was not invited, but his boss, Judson Miner, was among the community activists listed as participants in the Society’s workshop.
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.
Jarrett attended the Supreme Court last week as it heard arguments on the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. Her presence as the president’s “eyes and ears” was noted by Breitbart.com’s Ken Klukowski. Jarrett had also led the administration’s media charge in advance of the Supreme Court arguments, arguing that Obamacare is necessary because it protects women’s health in particular, shaping the case to fit Democrats' narrative of a Republican "war on women."
As more moderate, pragmatic voices have abandoned the White House to attend to the actual business of governing--Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel being only one of many defectors--Jarrett has remained and her influence has grown.
Jarrett endorses the idea that Obama is still a “community organizer” in the White House, and the administration’s Alinksyite tactics of race and class division bear her fingerprints as much as his own.