On Wednesday, Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank mocked all the free food and comforts being offered to the media in Charlotte. The utter lack of journalistic hardballs for Team Obama came through as he explained “My Tuesday began at the Politico Hub, where Mike Allen was interviewing President Obama’s confidant Valerie Jarrett.”
When Jarrett said how she was impressed at their first meeting about how Obama was a great listener to women, Allen inserted, “Some things don’t change.” Milbank added this sappy exchange:
“He’s still a normal human being and he likes to laugh,” Jarrett disclosed.
Allen asked if it’s true that “they’re incredible parents.”
“They’re absolutely amazing,” Jarrett confirmed.
“The young ladies have turned out to be remarkably normal, right?”
“They are very normal.”
Allen and Milbank were both White House correspondents for the Post in the early Bush years. The laugh line came later, when Jarrett argued Obama has a "very robust track record."
On Saturday, Jo Becker of The New York Times reported that insiders whisper that Jarrett is the most powerful Obama adviser. Her story began with William Daley wondering why on Earth that Team Obama was alienating Catholics by forcing them to subsidize contraceptive coverage in insurance plans:
What he did not realize was that while he was trying to put out what he considered a fire, the person fanning the flames was sitting just one flight up from him: Valerie Jarrett, the Obamas’ first friend, the proposal’s chief patron and a tenacious White House operator who would ultimately outmaneuver not only Mr. Daley but also the vice president in her effort to include the broadest possible contraception coverage in the administration’s health care overhaul.
A Chicagoan who helped Mr. Obama navigate his rise through that city’s aggressive politics, Ms. Jarrett came to Washington with no national experience. But her unmatched access to the Obamas has made her a driving force in some of the most significant domestic policy decisions of the president’s first term, her persuasive power only amplified by Mr. Obama’s insular management style...
“She is the single most influential person in the Obama White House,” said one former senior White House official...“He’s got a real mess in the West Wing,” said one close presidential adviser. “Valerie is effectively the chief of staff, and he knows, but he doesn’t know. She’s almost like Nancy Reagan was with President Reagan, but more powerful.”
Becker was impressed that Jarrett pushed hard for liberalism: "Ms. Jarrett often serves as a counterweight to the more centrist Clinton veterans in the administration, reminding them and her innately cautious boss that he came to Washington to do big things. Some of his boldest moves, on women’s issues, gay rights and immigration, have been in areas she cares about most. If Karl Rove was known as George W. Bush’s political brain, Ms. Jarrett is Mr. Obama’s spine."