The Weekly Standard's Matthew Continetti has given a new title to Senior White House Advisor Valerie Jarrett; "The Worst White House Aide." The label comes as Continetti gives his outlook on the episode described in The Obamas that has taken up the brunt of political chatter not involving the GOP nomination over the last week.
(Related: Valerie Jarrett Attacks GOP in Speech From MLK's Church Pulpit)
The Obamas author Jodi Kantor writes that during a heated White House Staff meeting involving then press secretary Robert Gibbs and Jarrett, Gibbs dealt out expletive-laden insults to both the First Lady and White House advisor. According to Kantor, the exchange occurred on Sept. 16, 2010, right after after Gibbs had allegedly diffused a potentially explosive report that claimed Mrs. Obama told French First Lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy that she “can’t stand“ life in the White House and that it was ”hell.”
Jarrett alleged Mrs. Obama was “dissatisfied” with Gibbs’ handling of the incident and that the former press secretary launched into Jarrett for interfering in the matter. According to the book, Gibbs used a series of expletives, including the “F” word, which was allegedly directed at the First Lady.
Although both Gibbs and Jarrett have since released statements playing down the stand-off, it's hard to forget that Gibbs had told Kantor that at the time he stopped taking Jarrett seriously “as an adviser to the president of the United States." To that comment Continetti writes: "It's about time."
Continetti goes on to note that no one can really put their finger on “What, exactly, does Valerie Jarrett do?” and surmises that she is "the Obama administration in a microcosm," embodying "its insularity, its cronyism, its cluelessness." After going through her history with Barack and Michele, Continetti goes on to connect Jarrett to some of the president's most glaring mistakes:
"One of Obama’s more flowery hagiographers, journalist Richard Wolffe, divides the administration into 'revivalists,' who want the president to be true to the spirit of hope and change, and 'survivalists,' who believe compromise is necessary in a divided country. Jarrett is the leader of the revivalists, and her fingerprints are on every blunder and boo-boo the White House has ever made. She bragged to a conference of leftwing bloggers that she had hired noted environmentalist and 9/11 Truther Van Jones, later forced to resign. She campaigned extensively for Obama to travel to Copenhagen and make the case for holding the 2016 summer games in Chicago before the International Olympic Committee. Obama took the trip; the IOC chose Rio. During this time Jarrett met with George Kaiser, the Obama bundler and investor whose solar-panel manufacturer Solyndra was up for a huge loan guarantee. Jarrett, according to government documents, was warned about Solyndra’s shaky finances on the eve of the president’s visit to the company’s facility in Fremont, California. Obama went anyway. "
Continetti concludes that in a representation of her value, or cluelessness, Jarrett has outlasted all of her internal adversaries:
"Gibbs is gone. Internal clashes led to Emanuel’s sudden discovery that he had always wanted to be mayor of Chicago. Emanuel’s replacement, fellow Chicagoan Bill Daley (brother of Richie), was muscled out last week; word is he fought with Jarrett too. Her persistence is matched only by her tone-deafness"
Continetti is not the first to question Jarrett's place in the White House. As Continetti notes, Jason Horowitz examined Jarrett's role in the Obama administration in October 25's Washington Post:
"The high-fashion aide carries the high-octane title 'White House senior adviser' and is a barometer for how Obama and his wife will react to events. Except she has no operational expertise and it’s unclear exactly how she advises the president.
As the head of the Office of Public Engagement, she serves as the administration’s contact to local governments, constituency groups and the business community. Except that critics have accused the administration of failing to engage.
Jarrett organized a grievance-airing dinner in 2009 with the president and frustrated women in the administration. Except many women’s advocates outside the administration find her inaccessible.
She provides the president and Michelle Obama with intelligence on staff squabbles. Except that staff squabbles, especially with former chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, have often centered on Jarrett herself.
And while administration officials argue that Jarrett’s unique stature has allowed her to stand in for the president and make calls to executives during the auto bailouts, or governors during the gulf oil spill, it is that very prominence that has made Jarrett such a big target.
Disgruntled Obama donors in the financial industry, reluctant to take their ire out on the president, have cast Jarrett as insufficiently sophisticated on economic issues and incapable of brooking any dissent about Obama.
'I have always thought she was a liability,' said one prominent investor and donor who, like many others, spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear of angering the White House. 'I’ve talked to people in the White House about it, and they have agreed with me, but they are scared to say anything.'"
Chicago Tribune contributing op-ed columnist Dennis Byrne describes Continetti's piece as a "must read for Chicagoans" and "devastating stuff" for Jarrett.
As news of the ugly ordeal described in The Obamas continues to linger, it will be interesting to see if old criticisms of Jarrett rehash and lead to administrative changes in the West Wing.
(H/T: Hot Air)