And in so doing the indispensable Valerie Jarrett insists on being allowed to be Valerie Jarrett, unvetted, unknown, unaccountable. Our July/August issue cover story.
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.
If conservatives will pardon my comparison, when thinking of Valerie Jarrett’s influence on Barack Obama, I’m mindful of the influence of Judge William P. Clark on Ronald Reagan—minus the ideological chasm. Bill Clark was Reagan’s right-hand man, often literally at his right side. It was Clark who coined the conservative rally cry, “Let Reagan be Reagan.” No one was more inclined to let Reagan act on his instincts, protecting the conservative president from the pragmatists and the moderates, from the détente-niks, from the Rockefeller Republicans and RINO reprobates and blue-blood country-clubbers who would separate Reagan from his true beliefs.
That seems to be Valerie Jarrett’s role with Barack Obama. Jarrett is trying to let Obama be Obama, protecting the president from the pragmatists and moderates, from the Blue Dog Democrats and voices of sanity in foreign policy who would tug Obama from his true beliefs.
“We have kind of a mind meld,” Jarrett says of her and Obama. “And chances are, what he wants to do is what I’d want to do.”
And what might that be?
An American in Iran
VALERIE JARRETT was born Valerie Bowman in Shiraz, Iran, in November 1956. Her American parents were Dr. James E. Bowman and Barbara Taylor Bowman. Her father was a geneticist and pathologist who helped run a children’s hospital in Shiraz as part of a U.S. aid program to assist developing countries in health and agriculture. The family left for London when Valerie was five years old, and eventually returned to Chicago in 1963. Because of her international upbringing—something she shares with Obama—Bowman received an excellent education and was speaking Persian, French, and English as an adolescent.
Valerie’s mother, a child psychologist, helped establish the Erikson Institute, which specialized in child development and advocacy. The Erikson Institute received funding from the Woods Charitable Fund, which years later included Barack Obama and Bill Ayers as board members. The institute tapped into not only private monies but the vast pool of public dollars unleashed by LBJ’s Head Start program. Like her daughter would one day, Barbara honed the craft of locating large sums of money (public especially) for her enterprises.
Valerie’s mother’s parents were Robert Rochon Taylor and Dorothy Taylor. Robert was the first African American head of the Chicago Housing Authority, and the son of an esteemed early African American architect. Dorothy, born in Berkeley, California in 1905, was active in Planned Parenthood, undeterred by—or not knowledgeable of—Margaret Sanger’s championing of racial eugenics, Sanger’s 1926 speech to a KKK rally in New Jersey, or Sanger’s Negro Project.
The Old Folks at Home
VALERIE ATTENDED Stanford as an undergrad, living at the African American themed Ujamaa House and earning a B.A. in psychology in 1978. She went on to University of Michigan Law School, where she got her J.D. in 1981.
Valerie quickly sought out jobs with law firms, getting hired at Chicago’s Sonnenschein, Carlin, Nath, and Rosenthal, specializing in the firm’s real-estate branch. She hated the job. “I would sit in that office and just cry,” she said later. “Cry my heart out. I’ve got to get out of here.”
Valerie Jarrett wanted to do much bigger things. She wanted to change the world.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?