Justice Scalia Death: Clinton Body Count Mounts “The Chicago way!” “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.” – OBAMA


ObamaJP-DALEY-popup Obama’s History: “The Chicago Way”: “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.”

By: Dan Lyman | Western Free Press

The most conservative, Constitutionally-adherent Supreme Court Justice has passed away, in his sleep, after a night of celebratory festivities, during a hunting trip in West Texas.

Let’s be purely objective: at 79-years-old, he was the longest-serving Justice. He was overweight. It is being reported that he died of natural causes. Fair enough.

“The administration’s political tactics are straight out of the Daley playbook.

“If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.” Barack Obama is the first American president from Chicago. That fact will be the trailblazing Obama’s most lasting legacy. Chicago has long been stereotyped as a city where any-means-necessary politics have ruled, and where excess is preferable to moderation.

The scandals swirling around the Obama administration have many journalists scratching their heads as to how “hope and change” seem to have been supplanted by “arrogance and fear.”

Perhaps it’s time they revisit one of their original premises about Barack Obama: that he wasn’t influenced by the Chicago Daley machine.

You know: the machine that boosted his career and whose protégés — including Valerie Jarrett, David Axelrod, Rahm Emanuel, and his wife, Michelle — he brought to Washington with him.

Let’s also not be complacently naive: Scalia was the Supreme Court’s staunchest opponent to the progressive agenda.

He demolished last summer’s gay marriage ruling in a scathing 9-page dissent, admonishing the court for trampling individual states’ rights and its non-representative make-up, stating –

 “Take, for example, this Court, which consists of only nine men and women, all of them successful lawyers who studied at Harvard or Yale Law School.

Four of the nine are natives of New York City. Eight of them grew up in east-and west-coast States. Only one hails from the vast expanse in-between.”

 

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One need only examine how the ultra-liberal Los Angeles Times derisively covered Scalia’s passing to understand the enmity with which anti-constitutional progressives viewed him.

“…inside the court, his rigid style of conservatism and derisive jabs directed at his colleagues limited his effectiveness. Scalia himself seemed to relish the role of the angry dissenter.

 As a justice, he was the leading advocate for interpreting the Constitution by its original words and meaning, and not in line with contemporary thinking. He said he liked a ‘dead Constitution,’ not a ‘living’ one that evolves with the times.”

And please set aside the time to ingest initial reactions from the most rabid communist animals on the planet, as chronicled at Breitbart News.

It should not be overlooked that Barack Obama’s climate change agenda, in direct collusion with the United Nations’ recent COP 21 agreements in Paris, was blocked in a 5-4 vote by the Supreme Court – just a few days ago.

The Hill previously reported on the Supremes’ decision in succinct terms that clearly define its importance to the Obama cabal, United Nations, and two biggest ‘global warming’ liars in the presidential race.

“The court granted the request in a 5-4 vote on Tuesday night, saying the rule was on hold until the circuit court reviews it and Supreme Court appeals are exhausted. The court’s four liberal justices dissented from the decision.

The rule — the Clean Power Plan — is the main plank of Obama’s climate change agenda. It’s designed to cut carbon pollution from the electricity sector by 32 percent over 2005 levels by 2030 by assigning states individual reduction targets based on their energy mix.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement that the administration disagrees with the order, but ‘we remain confident that we will prevail’ when the rule is argued on its merits.

A senior administration official downplayed the decision, calling it ‘a temporary procedural determination that does nothing to affect first our confidence in the legal soundness of this rule.’ Another official said the White House is ‘very surprised’ by the decision, but has ‘complete confidence that the rule is lawful.’

The stay means Obama will likely leave office with the fate of his premier climate policy undecided.

The circuit court plans to hear arguments on the rule in June, meaning the Supreme Court probably won’t get a chance to hear or rule on the regulation until after Obama’s term ends in January.

It also elevates the Clean Power Plan’s status as a major issue in the presidential election.

Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have pledged to protect the rule — and expand on Obama’s climate work — if elected in November, while Republican candidates have been openly hostile to both the power plant rule and federal climate regulations in general.

Obama, bullish on the rule’s legality in the face of certain lawsuits, took the plan with him to Paris last year for a major climate conference focused on carbon reduction. The Clean Power Plan is the centerpiece of the American commitment to the agreement reached there.”

It has become flagrantly apparent that the Obama administration is a coterie of gangsters and criminals of the highest, most sophisticated degree. We should not blindly accept such a tragic, radical alteration of the protection of our Constitutionally-guaranteed rights to the State without a healthy dose of forthright, critical thought.

 

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We’ve all looked to Obama’s ‘final’ year in the White House with trepidation, wondering what extreme stunts he would pull – why should we rule anything out? Let’s not be complacent at this pivotal moment in our nation’s future.

Hitler’s ‘Night of the Long Knives’ just happened to be a more ‘public’ and comprehensive elimination of dissent.

May the Honorable Justice Antonin Scalia rest in peace, with prayers and healing be with his family at this time.

Get Trevor Loudon\’s NEW book: Barack Obama and the Enemies Within

Source: http://www.trevorloudon.com/2016/02/justice-scalia-found-dead-days-after-supremes-block-global-climate-agenda/

“If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.” Barack Obama is the first American president from Chicago. That fact will be the trailblazing Obama’s most lasting legacy. Chicago has long been stereotyped as a city where any-means-necessary politics have ruled, and where excess is preferable to moderation.

Convicted felon Tony Rezko, leftist extremists Reverend Jeremiah Wright and Father Michael Pfleger, radical Bill Ayers, Saul Alinsky’s take-no-prisoners Rules for Radicals, felon and former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich — all these were part of Barack Obama’s Chicago tutelage.

Chicagoan Rahm Emanuel’s infamous adage — “You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that, it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before” — was the unofficial motto of the Obama administration’s efforts to grow government, up-regulate, and borrow immense sums — measures impossible without a climate of induced panic and fear.

Director Brian De Palma’s 1987 film The Untouchables rejuvenated Chicago’s reputation for muscle over niceties. The film dramatized Chicago’s institutionalized bribery and corruption during the effort to bring down Roaring Twenties mobster Al Capone.

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Chicagacityscape

Screenwriter David Mamet famously had characters brag of “the Chicago way.” On more than one occasion, a cop advised: “They pull a knife, you pull a gun.” Gun-control advocate and Chicagoan Barack Obama made waves in his 2008 presidential run when he echoed the film’s advice to a Philadelphia audience.

He joked of what his campaign might do to his rival, John McCain: “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.”

Obama exemplified the Chicago stereotype of how to get business done when, that same campaign year, he advised his followers to confront their political opponents: “I want you to argue with them and get in their face.”

“Chicago politics” seems a common denominator in serial scandals involving political bias, cronyism, and incompetence at the VA, IRS, DHS, ICE, NSA, Secret Service, and, most recently, Office of Personnel Management.

Most critics of Barack Obama’s desultory performance the past three years trace it to his supposedly leftist ideology, lack of experience and even his personality quirks. But it would perhaps be more useful to look at the geography — of Chicago and the state of Illinois — that nurtured his career and shaped his approach to politics. Like with George W. Bush and Texas, this is a case where you can’t separate the man from the place.

The Chicago imprint on Obama is unmistakable. His closest advisors are almost all products of the Windy City’s machine politic: Consigliere Valerie Jarrett; his first chief of staff, now Chicago Mayor, Rahm Emanuel; and his current chief of staff, longtime Chicago hackster William Daley, scion of the Windy City’s longtime ruling family.

All these figures arose from a Chicago where corruption is so commonplace that it elicits winks, nods and even a kind of admiration. Since 1973, for example, 27 Chicago Aldermen have been convicted by U.S. Attorney of the Northern District of Illinois.

That culture of corruption affects the rest of the state as well. Both Gov. George Ryan (who served from 1999 to 2003 and  and his successor Ron Blagojevich have been convicted a major crimes.

So have four of the state’s last eight governors. Blagojevich’s felonies are part and parcel of a political climate that also includes the also newly convicted  Antonin “Tony” Rezko, a real estate speculator and early key Obama backer, sentenced late last month to a ten-year prison sentence.

Crony capitalism constitutes the essential element of what the legendary columnist John Kass of the Chicago Tribune has labeled both the “Chicago way” and the “Illinois Combine”, not primarily an ideology-driven movement.

The political system, he notes, “knows no party, only appetites.”

Just look at the special favors granted to vested interests while the state has imposed a 65% boost in income taxes for middle class citizens. Companies like Boeing and United, which have  head offices in Chicago, get tax breaks and incentives, while everyone else pays the full fare.

This game is still afoot.  Even as the state deficit persists, other big players such as the CME group, which operates the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the Chicago Board of Options and Sears are threatening to leave unless their taxes are also lowered.

Thus it’s not surprising then that cronyism has become a hallmark of the Obama administration.

Wall Street grandees, a key source of Obama campaign funders in 2008 and again now, have been treated to bailouts as well as monetary policies that have assured massive profits to the “too big to fail” crowed while devastating consumers and smaller banks.

The evolving scandal over “green jobs” — with huge loans handed out to faithful campaign contributors — epitomizes the special dealing that has become an art form in the system of Chicago and Illinois politics.  Beneficiaries include longtime Obama backers such as   Goldman Sachs , Morgan Stanley and Google. Another scandal is building up around the telecom company LightSquared. This company, financed largely by key Obama donors,  appears to have gained a leg up for a huge Pentagon contract due to White House pressure.

If the Chicago system had proven an economic success, perhaps we could excuse Obama for bringing it to the rest of us. Most of us would put up with a bit of corruption and special dealing if the results were strong economic and employment growth.

But the bare demographic and economic facts for both Chicago and Illinois reveal a stunning legacy of failure. Over the past decade, Illinois suffered the third highest loss of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math-related) jobs in the nation, barely beating out Delaware and Michigan. The rest of the job picture is also dismal: Over the past ten years, Illinois suffered the third largest loss of jobs of any state, losing over six percent of its employment.

The evolving scandal over “green jobs” — with huge loans handed out to faithful campaign contributors — epitomizes the special dealing that has become an art form in the system of Chicago and Illinois politics.

Beneficiaries include longtime Obama backers such as   Goldman Sachs , Morgan Stanley and Google. Another scandal is building up around the telecom company LightSquared. This company, financed largely by key Obama donors,  appears to have gained a leg up for a huge Pentagon contract due to White House pressure.

If the Chicago system had proven an economic success, perhaps we could excuse Obama for bringing it to the rest of us. Most of us would put up with a bit of corruption and special dealing if the results were strong economic and employment growth.

But the bare demographic and economic facts for both Chicago and Illinois reveal a stunning legacy of failure. Over the past decade, Illinois suffered the third highest loss of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math-related) jobs in the nation, barely beating out Delaware and Michigan. The rest of the job picture is also dismal: Over the past ten years, Illinois suffered the third largest loss of jobs of any state, losing over six percent of its employment.

The NSA’s monitoring of the Associated Press journalists fit perfectly the Chicago stereotype, which often involves two prime characteristics: sending a message to political opponents that the power of government can be unleashed against unwise criticism, and using off-the record understandings and under-the-table sweeteners to close a deal.

The administration had falsely blamed Nakoula’s little-watched video — rather than an al-Qaeda affiliate and the administration’s own lax security — as the cause of the lethal attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

The public shrugged at the jailing of the distasteful Nakoula, as if the hounding of an American resident on a trumped-up charge to mask the culpability of the White House were a minor affair.

Was it just a coincidence that Senator Bob Menendez (D., N.J.) in April suddenly found himself indicted by a federal attorney on three-year-old, and previously aired, charges — right after he voiced sharp criticism of the administration’s ongoing Iran deal?

Was the not-so-subtle message to congressional Democrats, “Don’t buck the administration if you know what’s good for you”?

Speaking of Iran, why is the administration suddenly talking of releasing master spy and traitor Jonathan Pollard ahead of his parole date? Pollard has served 27 years of a life sentence for spying for Israel. Previously, the Obama administration would not even let Pollard visit his dying father.

Is administration talk of Pollard’s early release designed as a sop to Israel over the Iran deal — a supposed way to cool Israel’s loud opposition, which might threaten congressional ratification of the deal?

In Chicago fashion, when a deal is stuck, you add extraneous sweeteners or punishments to move it along. What are the recently exposed “side deals” with Iran?

Why does the administration brag about the transparent provisions of the treaty, while hiding two concessions to the Iranian theocracy concerning its ongoing uranium enrichment and areas off-limits to inspections? During Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign, the Tea Party likewise learned about the Chicago way.

At the high-water mark of that populist conservative movement, suddenly many Tea Party affiliates ran into trouble with the IRS. It was later found out — well after Obama’s reelection — that IRS bureaucrat Lois Lerner had deliberately targeted conservative nonprofits on the basis of their politics.

At the time, Obama feigned outrage. But more recently, he dropped that pretense and scoffed that Lerner’s politicization of the IRS was due only to a “crummy” law — and Republican cuts in the IRS budget. In other words, the Republicans were to blame for Lerner’s hounding of themselves.

RELATED: The Many Lies Paving the Way to Obama’s Legacy

We forget that politicizing the IRS worked, in the sense that on the eve of Obama’s reelection lots of conservative groups were deflated.

More important, Obama subsequently established the deterrent idea that opposition to him might earn audits for his critics.

Or, as Obama joked in Chicago fashion when denied an honorary degree from Arizona State, “President [Michael] Crowe and the Board of Regents will soon learn all about being audited by the IRS.”

The Obama administration is now fishing for some way to shut down the Guantanamo detention center, after six years of failing to persuade or browbeat Congress to do so.

It suddenly complains of the excessive cost of running the facility — this worry over budgeting from an administration that will leave office having doubled the federal debt, and having borrowed more than all previous presidencies combined.

There has been bad blood between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama ever since their acrimonious 2008 nomination fight.

Hillary should beware: Obama has a long Chicago memory, and as an unfettered lame duck he no longer worries about polls or national elections. Coincidentally, Hillary just learned that federal officials are once again looking into her private e-mail mess and her possible release of classified information to friends and associates.

She should remember what happened to General David Petraeus, whose use of private e-mails and sharing of classified documents were apparently known to the Obama administration well before the 2012 election — but mattered more opportunely after the Obama victory, when it led to Petraeus’s resignation and eventual guilty plea to a federal charge of unauthorized removal and retention of classified information.

In Chicago style, the sword of Damocles falls when the boss chooses.

 Even more curious, as Stanley Kurtz has pointed out, the Obama administration is apparently going ahead with its bizarre plan to force elite suburbs to diversify and become more racially proportionate under federal guidance (certain tony enclaves like Oprah’s Montecito or Silicon Valley’s Woodside will no doubt be exempt).

Disbursements of federal money will apparently be used to alter zoning laws in wealthier areas, with the purpose of granting access to the underprivileged. Guess which exclusive enclave the Obama administration tried targeting first? Westchester, N.Y. – home to Hillary Clinton.

Pettiness too is a Chicago character trait.

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Obama’s History: “The Chicago Way”

The liberal take on the president was best summed up by Slate magazine’s Jacob Weisberg, who wrote last year that Obama “somehow passed through Chicago politics without ever developing any real connection to it.” It’s true that Obama initially kept some distance from the machine. But by the time he ran for the Senate in 2004, his main political Sherpas were Axelrod, who was then the chief consultant to Mayor Richard M. Daley, and Jarrett, the mayor’s former deputy chief of staff.

 

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As Scott Simon of NPR noted: “While calling for historic change globally, [Obama] has never professed to be a reformer locally.” The Daley machine, which evolved over 60 years from a patronage-rich army of worker bees into a corporate state in which political pull and public-employee unions dominate, has left its imprint on Obama.

The machine’s core principle, laid out in an illuminating Chicago Independent Examiner primer on “the Chicago Way,” is that at all times elections are too important to be left to chance.

John Kass, the muckraking columnist for the Chicago Tribune who for years has warned that Obama was bringing “the Chicago way” to Washington, sums up his city like this: “Once there were old bosses. Now there are new bosses.

 And shopkeepers still keep their mouths shut. Tavern owners still keep their mouths shut.

 Even billionaires keep their mouths shut.”

 “We have a sick political culture, and that’s the environment Barack Obama came from,”

 

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Jay Stewart, the executive director of the Chicago Better Government Association, warned ABC News when Obama ran in 2008.

He noted that Obama had “been noticeably silent on the issue of corruption here in his home state.”

Joel Kotkin, an urban expert who still considers himself a “Kennedy Democrat –– John F. Kennedy,” wrote at Forbes: “Most of us would put up with a bit of corruption and special dealing if the results were strong economic and employment growth.

But the bare demographic and economic facts for both Chicago and Illinois reveal a stunning legacy of failure.”

Since 2007, the Chicago region has lost more jobs than Detroit has, and more than twice as many as New York.

The city’s murder rate is a national disgrace, and its teachers’ union is so powerful that a strike it called last year forced new mayor Rahm Emanuel to back down from his attempt to curb union power.

The Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch tags Chicago as the fifth most heavily taxed city in the country: Its sky-high effective sales tax of 9.75 percent makes the tax burden on a family earning $25,000 a year the fourth highest in the country.

From 1991, two years after Richard M. Daley first took office as mayor, to 2011, the year Emanuel took the reins, the average debt per Chicagoan grew from $600 to $2,600, an increase of 433 percent. As Dick Simpson, a former reform Chicago alderman who now teaches at the University of Illinois, put it: “There’s a significant downside to authoritarian rule.

The city could do much better.” Conservatives in Chicago, an embattled breed, say the Obama scandals now coming to light — the IRS, the intimidation of journalists, the green-energy boondoggles such as Solyndra — could have been anticipated. “The 2008 Obama campaign perpetrated a fraud that he was a reformer,” says Chris Robling, a former journalist who has served as a Republican election commissioner. “All of the complaints — from the lack of transparency to HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius’s shaking down corporations to promote Obamacare — stem from the culture of the Daley Machine.”

For decades, Robling says, Mayor Daley “encouraged” contributions to his favorite charities, with the implicit understanding that the “encourager” controlled the city’s inspectors and regulators. “That sounds an awful lot like what Sebelius was doing to prop up Obamacare,” Robling notes. “Obama’s ideology may come from Saul Alinsky’s acolytes, but his political tactics come straight from the Daley playbook.”

Indeed, friends of Bill Daley, Mayor Daley’s brother, say that one reason Bill left his post as Obama’s White House chief of staff after only one year was that even he thought Team Obama was too much “all politics, all of the time” and not enough about governance.

Journalists used to know that presidents are in part a product of their past: where their careers were nurtured and where their politics were shaped. They understood this as a given when it came to Ronald Reagan and California; they basically grasped it about Bill Clinton’s Arkansas, and certainly nailed it on George W. Bush and Texas. But when it came to Barack Obama, all that went out the window.

Speaking at the University of Southern California, at a post-2008 conference on the election, Mark Halperin, then of ABC News, said that the media’s treatment of Obama had been “the most disgusting failure of people in our business since the Iraq war.” It was “extreme bias, extreme pro-Obama coverage,” he concluded.

That media failure continued throughout Obama’s first term. Perhaps now, as Obama’s “Chicago Way” is coming into focus, the media will want to redeem itself. With Obama, it’s become all too clear: You can take the politician away from the machine, but you can’t take the machine out of the politician. — John Fund is national-affairs columnist for NRO.

 

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Before he was a world-rebuilding, race-transcending international statesman, our president had become well acquainted with the Chicago Way.

And they tell me your are crooked and I answer: Yes, it
is true that I have seen the gunman kill and go free to kill again.
~Carl Sandburg, “Chicago,” 1916

When Rudyard Kipling saw Chicago in 1891, he wrote, “I urgently desire never to see it again. It is inhabited by savages.” Twenty years later, a losing candidate for mayor complained, “Chicago is unique. It is the only completely corrupt city in America.”

Socialist leader Eugene Debs called it “unfit for human habitation.” Mike Royko, the Windy City’s columnist-conscience until his death in 1997, suggested that “the city slogan be changed from Urbs In Horto, which means ‘City in a Garden,’ to Ubi Est Mea, which means ‘Where’s mine?’ ” Journalist Walter Winchell called the inhabitants “Chicagorillas.”

Chicago nonetheless had its defenders. The actress Sarah Bernhardt said after performing there, “It is the pulse of America.” H. L. Mencken declared it “the Literary Capital of the United States.” And Norman Mailer, who condemned its politicians in Miami and the Siege of Chicago in 1968, wrote, “Perhaps it is the last of the great American cities.
” To Frank Sinatra, it would always be “that toddlin’ town.”

Chicago’s most recent claim to singularity is its gift to the nation of Barack Hussein Obama.

It seems surprising that no Chicagoan before him had seized the White House, given Chicago’s significance in national electoral politics. One measure of this importance is that the Republicans and Democrats have held more presidential nominating conventions in Chicago than in any other city—twenty-five, compared to ten for its nearest rival, Baltimore. Chicago’s clout and money were always welcome in national elections, even if its politicians were not sufficiently potable to sit uptable from the White House salt. Jack Kennedy said that he would not have won in 1960 without Chicago Mayor Richard Joseph Daley, a fellow Irish Catholic and old friend of Kennedy’s father. (When Illinois Republicans demanded a recount in 1960 of the famously unreliable Cook County vote, Daley agreed to check all the ballots at the rate of one precinct a day. “At that pace,” wrote Mike Royko wrote in his magisterial biography, Boss: Richard J. Daley of Chicago, “they would complete the recheck in twenty years.”

A special prosecutor, who turned out to be a “faithful organization Democrat,” eventually dropped all charges against the accused polling officers.) Bill Clinton was so indebted to the second Mayor Daley, Richard Michael, that he made his younger brother William secretary of commerce.

Chicago’s politicians were kingmakers, not kings. Their legendary delivery of delegates at the Democratic Convention and electoral college votes to the Democrats’ nominee required Democratic contenders to feign ignorance of the ways the votes were obtained and counted. Although the last time police had to seize large quantities of arms from polling places was in 1924, the number of dead who went on casting votes meant every Chicago election was called Resurrection Day.

Yet electioneering was governed by explicit regulations, as Fortune magazine noted in August 1936: “Rule one of this art: never pay a bum his dollar for a full day’s voting in advance.

He may drink it up before he has voted the requisite number of times, in which case he will spend the day sleeping it off.” Quaint electoral traditions, abolished by reformers in most other American cities by mid-20th century, made Chicago politicians a hard sell for national office.

Even the saintly Adlai Stevenson could not overcome his identification with the Machine to beat Dwight Eisenhower for president in the 1950s.

Obama changed that, his achievement of becoming the first president of African descent less startling than being the first from Chicago.

At his inauguration on January 20th, Obama vowed to “remake America.”

His devoted supporters were entitled to ask whether he remade Chicago during his twenty-one years there, three as a community organizer and eighteen as a lawyer and politician. Or did Chicago make him?

He saw Chicago for the first time aged ten, when his grandmother determined the precocious Hawaiian islander should visit the mainland.

His memoir, Dreams From My Father, mentions only three images from this three-day stay: the indoor swimming pool at his motel, the elevated train he stood under while shouting as loud as he could and “two shrunken heads” in the Field Museum that struck him as “some sort of cosmic joke” from which his mother had to pull him away.

That would have been in 1970, Richard J. Daley’s sixteenth year as mayor.

Fourteen years later, Obama completed his undergraduate studies at Occidental College in California and Columbia University in New York.

He wanted to change the world by organizing communities.

His rationale was as idealistic as it was simple, or simplistic:

Change won’t come from the top, I would say. Change will come from a mobilized grass roots.

That’s what I’ll do. I’ll organize black folks. At the grass roots. For change.

The capital of urban activism in America was Chicago, probably because there was much to be active against.

Organizers like Jane Addams and Saul Alinksy aimed at the realistic target of winning concessions from a corrupt power structure, rather than the more problematic goal of eliminating it. “Community organizing against the political establishment is a fundamental tradition in Chicago,” the left-liberal political consultant and columnist Don Rose told me recently in Paris.

With “Another Old White Guy for OBAMA” badge pinned to his jacket, the seventy-eight-year-old savant recalled Saul Alinsky’s methods.

Rose knew Alinsky, author of the 1946 bestselling Reveille for Radicals. Although the father of Chicago community organising died in 1972 at the age of sixty-three, Rose spoke of him in the present tense,

When Alinsky threatens to take three trainloads of black people to Marshall Field’s department store, he’s not trying to shut down Marshall Field’s, but to get it to hire blacks for various jobs. Or to bring legislation. Or to build a new police station, a new fire station. A kind of petitioning with the threat of force.

Obama admired him so much that he contributed a chapter to a book about him. (Hillary Clinton wrote her graduate thesis at Wellesley College on Alinsky, one of the few interests, apart from the pursuit of power, she shares with her new boss.)

 

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Soon after his 1983 graduation from Columbia University, Obama applied to work for civil rights and community groups in Chicago. In the absence of any response, he became a researcher for corporate consultancies in New York.

Two years later, a community organiser from Chicago approached him and asked what he knew about the place.

Obama answered, “Most segregated city in America.”

That apparent fact did not deter him from accepting a post in the tough South Side neighbourhoods where blacks had been ignored, abused and exploited for generations. “A week later,” Obama wrote, “I loaded up my car and drove to Chicago.”

 

Chicago has been a one-party city since 1931, when the Democrats captured city hall. Their monopoly outlived that of Italy’s Christian Democrats, who ruled in collusion with the Mafia and the Roman Catholic hierarchy in ways the average Chicago ward boss would find familiar, by thirty-four years.

Despite beating the Soviet Communist Party’s seventy-four year record four years ago, Cook County Democrats have yet have their glasnost.

The Democratic monopoly is so secure that the only elections that matter are the Democratic primaries, a Republican having as much chance to become mayor as Ralph Nader does of moving into the Oval Office.

The Cook County Democratic Party provided Obama, when he arrived from New York in the summer of 1985, more instruction on achieving and using power than Saul Alinsky’s manuals.

It all began with Anton Cermak, an immigrant from Bohemia who, like Obama, had the ostensible defect of a “funny name.”

“Tony” Cermak graduated from precinct captain to chairman of the Cook County Democratic Party Central Committee in 1928 and took the mayor’s office from the Republican incumbent, William Hale “Big Bill” Thompson, three years later.

Thompson, who counted Al Capone among his many friends, had made the mistake of campaigning against Cermak’s foreignness. One slogan went,

I won’t take a back seat to that Bohunk, Chaimock, Chermack or whatever his name is
Tony, Tony, where’s your pushcart at?
Can you picture a World’s Fair mayor
With a name like that?

Cermak replied in terms that Obama might have used in 2008: “It’s true we didn’t come over on the Mayflower, but I came over as soon as I could.” Cermak carried the Chicago black vote by stealing the city’s leading Negro politician, William L. Dawson, from the Republican Party. Dawson had lost a leg in France during World War I, and like most blacks born in the South belonged to the party of Lincoln rather than the party of lynching. Cermak promised him an alderman’s seat, and he delivered his black constituents to the Democrats from then on. Chicago’s electoral arithmetic was simple: Democratic committeemen in the city’s fifty wards controlled captains of the 3,500 precincts, who got out the vote with promises of jobs—the mayor had at least 30,000 from the city payroll in his gift. “Tony was always careful to put a Jew, a Czech, a German, an Eyetalian, a Swede, a graduate from the University of Chicago, someone close to Hull House [Jane Addams’s settlement house for social reform], and a friend of the big bankers somewhere on his elective or appointive or advisory slate,” Fortune wrote. It added, “Police reporters say Tony employed twenty-six stool pigeons to spy on his own organization. He took no chances.”

Unfortunately for poor Tony, chance did not favour him in early 1933 when an assassin took aim at President-elect Franklin Delano Roosevelt in Florida and killed Cermak by mistake. His coalition survived with the solid block of black votes from Dawson’s South Side precincts. Two Irish mayors named Kelly and Kennelly, creatures rather than masters of the Machine, served until 1955.  Then, fifty-three year old Richard J. Daley—who had taken Cermak’s old post as head of the Cook County party two years earlier—came in with no intention of leaving.

Daley held on, winning four re-election contests, until his death. Daley’s reputation was as an honest man who took Communion daily at his parish church and never stole a penny. He tolerated corruption among his friends, until they were foolish enough to be arrested. He lived in a modest house only a few blocks from the one where he was born in working class Bridgeport. He took care of his own. He arranged, as George W. Bush’s father had, for his sons to avoid combat in Vietnam by putting them into reserve units that never left home. When one of his sons went to work for an insurance company, Daley gave the firm the city’s lucrative insurance business. Like Bush Jr., he was famed for his sometimes revealing misuse of language: “Today the real problem is the future.” “We shall reach greater and greater platitudes of achievement.” “They have vilified me, they have crucified me; yes, they have even criticized me.”

After his policemen beat demonstrators and a few journalists senseless during the Chicago Democratic Convention of 1968, he said, “Gentlemen, get the thing straight once and for all—the policeman isn’t there to create disorder, the policeman is there to preserve disorder.” The Machine he ran was crooked, as were the cops. His police force was run by political cronies, and everyone knew that it was easier to tip a cop $20 than to pay a speeding fine. If that had been all there was to Daley, however, he would not have been re-elected the first time, let alone the subsequent three. He assiduously practiced his prescription that “Good government is good politics.” Daley was a builder of great public projects and abysmal ghetto tower blocks. If Chicago is one of the most beautiful cities in America, that is as much his legacy as the police’s record of torturing black suspects and, in 1969, assassinating two leaders of the Black Panther Party in their beds.

In the 1963 elections, when Kennedy stopped at O’Hare Airport to endorse him, Daley lost the city’s white vote for the first time. But the black vote, thanks to William Dawson, who had been the Machine’s man in Congress since 1943, gave him his third term. Mike Royko wrote,

The people who were trapped in the ghetto slums and the nightmarish public housing projects, the people who had the worst school system and were most often degraded by the Police Department, the people who received the fewest campaign promises and who were ignored as part of the campaign trail, had given him his third term. They had done it quietly, asking for nothing in return. Exactly what they got.

To regain white confidence, Daley turned his back on open housing and other integrationist measures that the national Democratic Party was slowly embracing. He stymied the civil rights movement, outmanoeuvring Martin Luther King and his Chicago press advisor, a young Don Rose, with unenforceable written promises that he never kept to improve conditions for black people. Boss Dawson died in 1970 and, with him, the guarantee of black votes for the Daley Machine. On 6 April 1971, Chicago elected Daley to his fifth term with most white voters supporting him once again. Mike Royko recalled that, when reporters asked the mayor whether any of the presidential contenders—Ted Kennedy, George McGovern, Edmund Muskie and Hubert Humphrey, all of whom condemned his police state tactics of 1968 – had telephoned to offer their congratulations. Daley smiled and said, “All of them did.”

* * * * * * *

When Obama arrived in Chicago in 1985, its politics were still adjusting to the vacuum left by Richard J. Daley’s death in office in 1976. Daley’s successors were two reform Democrats, the first a woman, Jane Byrne, and the second an African-American, Harold Washington. Byrne was not re-elected, because she broke her promise to reform the patronage Machine she inherited from Daley and antagonised the city’s black population. Washington tried to dismantle the Machine, but the white old guard in the city council blocked him. Racial tension between the mayor and his leading opponent, Alderman Ed Vrdolyak, were so bitter that Chicago earned another of its disparaging nicknames, Beirut-on-the-Lake.

Twenty-three years old, somewhat naïf, Barack Hussein Obama organized church and neighbourhood groups to force the city to remove asbestos and lead paint from public housing. He also led a campaign for playgrounds in the ghetto. These were serious struggles that, as well as improving lives, taught ordinary people, whom he paints sympathetically in Dreams From My Father, that they could confront power and win. Maybe not the game, but a few points. By his own admission, Obama’s achievements as community organizer were few. One of his staunchest supporters, a woman he called Sadie in his memoir, told him, “Ain’t nothin’ gonna change, Mr. Obama. We just gonna concentrate on saving our money so we can move outta here as fast as we can.”

In 1987, Harold Washington, who had at least listened to the poor community of the South Side, died in office. His successors were, like him, Democrats. The first was the city council’s temporary president, Eugene Sawyer, who was appointed to finish Washington’s unexpired term. An African-American whom many black voters saw as being too close to the white establishment, Sawyer lost in the 1989 Democratic primary to Richard M. Daley. The Daley Restoration rode in on the back of a disillusioned black electorate, who mostly stayed home from the polls.

In the meantime, Obama had left to study law at Harvard in 1988. While he was away, the Machine under the new Daley adapted to modern requirements. Daley Junior imitated his father by giving what patronage jobs he could, circumventing court rulings against the practice by hiring loyalists on temporary contracts; but he shifted the balance towards exchanging government contracts for funds to finance his campaigns. Media ads became more important than ward heelers. Contracts to build highways and collect rubbish replaced city jobs as rewards to a new generation with higher social aspirations than their union member fathers. The goldmine would be redeveloping the failed public housing projects, among America’s largest, that Daley Senior had built to confine the black population to high-rise blocks. The constant from Daley to Daley was public money for private profit.

Chicago’s poor had lost the hope of the Harold Washington years by the time Obama returned from Harvard in 1991, with, as he wrote, “the neighborhoods shabbier, the children edgier and less restrained, more middle class families heading out to the suburbs, the jails bursting with glowering youth, my brothers without prospects.” Obama, though, had prospects and did not return to community organizing. At first, he worked with Project Vote that registered 150,000 African Americans who helped Carol Moseley Braun to defeat two white males in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate and go on to become Illinois’ first black U.S. senator.

 

The law firm Davis, Miner, Barnhill and Galland hired Obama to work on civil rights and urban development cases. Its senior partners were Allison Davis, who left to become a property developer, and Judson Miner, whom Don Rose called “liberal, honest, progressive.”

Obama met and married Michelle Robinson, another Harvard lawyer, whose father had been a Daley precinct captain and patronage city worker. She went to work as an assistant to Daley’s chief of staff, under deputy chief Valerie Jarrett. Larry Bennett, who teaches Chicago politics at De Paul University, told me, “It’s a one-party city, and Obama has made his way in that system.” While maintaining that Obama was not a product of the Dailey Machine, Bennett observed, “Obama has one foot with the regular Democratic Party and one foot with the oppositional Democrats.” Whether he was seeking higher office or rights for the “grass roots,” Obama needed the Machine more than it needed him.

Ben Joravsky wrote of Obama in the liberal Chicago Reader,

When he returned in the early 90s, just out of law school, he was bright, young and incredibly ambitious, and the first thing he learned – the first thing any ambitious wannabe politician learns around here—is that there’s no future in Chicago for anyone who defies Mayor Daley… For Obama, kissing the mayor’s ring is like putting that flag on his lapel. It’s part of the game he’s had to play to get elected.

Obama devoted 162 pages of his 442-page Dreams From My Father to his three years as a community organizer in Chicago.

In the sequel, The Audacity of Hope, his subsequent political career received such little attention that New Yorker writer Ryan Lizza commented that “his life in Chicago from 1991 until his victorious Senate campaign is something of a lacuna in his autobiography.”

This may have been because he was learning more from the legacy of Mayor Richard J. Daley than he had from Saul Alinsky. The first thing a Chicago politician learns is how to raise money.

* * * * * * *

Making money from nothing has been the Chicago way since its founding in the late 18th century as a trading post by John Baptiste Point DuSable, a freed Haitian slave. (“Chicago” derives from the Algonquin Indian word for “onion patch,” chigagou.) The Chicago method was best described by George Horace Lorimer in his “Letters from a Self-Made Merchant to His Son” in the Saturday Evening Post in 1901 and 1902:

Does it pay to feed in pork trimmings are five cents a pound at the hopper and draw out nice, cunning, little ‘country’ sausages at twenty cents a pound at the other end? … You bet it pays.

Putting a few thousand dollars into a politician also paid, when the politician regurgitated contracts worth millions. One of the luminaries of the system in the late twentieth century was a Syrian immigrant named Antoin “Tony” Rezko. Born in Aleppo to a family of Syriac Christians in 1955, Rezko was nineteen when he reached the United States. He learned English and studied engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology. He borrowed money to buy vacant lots in Chicago’s South Side and build cheap houses. His next ventures involved buying franchises to open fast food outlets for Panda Express Chinese fast food and then Papa John’s Pizzerias. His food empire expanded from Chicago’s South Side to Michigan and Indiana. The Chicago Tribune wrote in 2006, “Rezko pragmatically courted local politicians, such as befriending the aldermen who controlled zoning and land use decisions.” Rezko, his associates and his family gave generously to city and state politicians, at least $385,000 in ten years, and raised millions more.

In 1989, Rezko and his friend Charles Mahru established Rezmar Corporation to rehabilitate sub-standard properties with government funds and manage them on government contracts. They restored 1,025 apartments in thirty buildings at taxpayer expense. In 1990, one of the company vice-presidents, David Brint, read in the newspapers that a young man from Chicago had been named the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. Brint called Barack Obama and arranged for him to meet Rezko, who offered him a job. Although Obama declined, a friendship was born that would help to finance Obama’s first run for the state senate in 1996.

Don Rose put a benign interpretation on Obama’s involvement with Rezko. “He meets Rezko under innocent circumstances,” Rose said. “Rezko is doing the right thing. Lots of community groups with housing take up with developers.” Obama’s employer, Judson Miner, represented some of the Rezko projects. “Jud assigned Obama to handle some of the Woodlawn [Preservation and Investment Corporation] file.” Allison David had left the law firm she headed with Judson Miner to found Woodlawn, which went into partnership with Tony Rezko to convert a disused nursing home into an apartment building. Rose said, “Rezko was doing the right thing to build houses for the poor, but he was using some of the project as a personal piggy bank.”

As a leading donor and fund-raiser for political campaigns, Rezko bankrolled Richard M. Daley for mayor, Rahm Emmanuel for Congress, Rod Blagojevich for governor and the young Barack Obama. Rose admitted that Rezko’s largesse may not have been merely good citizenship. His businesses—property development and fast food franchises—needed “many and quick authorizations,” as well as subsidies, from government.

Valerie Jarrett, who hired Michelle Obama to work on Mayor Richard J. Daley’s staff, told the Boston Globe, “Government is just not as good at owning as the private sector because the incentives are not there.” Jarrett at the time was chief executive officer of Habitat, which managed more than 23,000 flats. She was one of six developers, along with Rezko, who gave at least $175,000 to Obama’s campaigns. (She now, along with Rahm Emmanuel, Valerie Jarrett and Daley’s former election strategist, David Axelrod, works in the Obama White House.)

Quick quiz: which of these do you believe?

(1) Public-private finance packages are a genuinely more efficient way of providing housing for the poor.
(2) Public-private finance packages are a sure way for politicians to repay those who financed their campaigns.

Hint: Tim Novak wrote in the Chicago Sun Times, “For more than five weeks during the brutal winter of 1997, tenants shivered without heat in a government-subsidized apartment building on Chicago’s South Side. It was just four short years after the landlords – Antoin “Tony” Rezko and his partner Daniel Mahru—had rehabbed the 31-unit building with a loan from Chicago taxpayers.” Novak added that seventeen other Rezko buildings had been foreclosed by mortgagees and another six boarded up, leaving many of its former inhabitants homeless.

Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass, who has succeeded Mike Royko as bane of the Machine, wrote, “Obama hasn’t dared challenge Illinois Democrats on corruption.” The fact that Obama did not challenge Chicago’s bribery and chicanery does not mean he took part in it. Obama said repeatedly that Rezko received no favours from him. That assertion was contradicted by the discovery of a letter he wrote to the Department of Housing in 1998.

State and city treasuries advanced Rezko more than $14 million for the project, from which he and his project partner, Allison Davis, took development fees amounting to $855,00.

“In the state legislature,” political scientist Larry Bennett said, “Obama maintained a progressive tack on certain issues, but maintained relations with Daley.” Obama was more than a Machine functionary during his tenure in the state capital, Springfield. He taught at the University of Chicago Law School and sponsored reform of the state’s criminal justice system. Rob Warden, executive director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law, praised Obama’s civil liberties credentials.

While Daley for more than two decades, first as the county’s top prosecutor, then as mayor, turned a blind eye to police torture that sent innocent men to death row, Obama pushed legislation to make it more difficult. “Barack engineered a law through the legislature that requires the police to record the entire interrogation,” Warden, who helped to draft the legislation, told me. Despite police resistance, Illinois became the first state to enact this defendant protection. Chicago police now video-tape all interrogations to prove they no longer torture suspects. “I don’t know how he twisted arms,” Warden said, “but he did.”

In 2000, Obama ran for Congress in the Democratic primary against the popular incumbent, Bobby Rush. While picking up an endorsement from the Chicago Tribune and liberal white votes in his home area around Hyde Park, Obama lost most of the African-American vote to the former Black Panther.

It was said at the time that Daley gave his tacit support to Obama to send him to Washington rather than have to run against him for mayor one day. But Obama lost by thirty-one points, his first defeat.

That did not stop his bid two years later for the U.S. Senate. “When I decided to run for the U.S. Senate, my media consultant, David Axelrod, had to sit me down to explain the facts of life.” One fact was that he would need $5 million for the primary and another $10 to $15 million for the general election in November. “Absent great personal wealth, there is basically one way of raising the kind of money involved in a U.S. Senate race. You have to ask rich people for it.” The money came in, but it exacted a price. “I found myself spending time with people of means—law firm partners and investment bankers, hedge fund managers and venture capitalists.” He found that these people, many of them from backgrounds he would have come across at Columbia and Harvard Law School, “reflected, almost uniformly, the perspective of their class: the top 1 percent or so of the income scale that can afford to write a $2,000 check to a political candidate.” He is unusually frank for an American politician about the one per cent’s effect on him:

And although my own worldview and theirs corresponded in many ways—I had gone to the same schools, after all, had read the same books, and worried about my kids in many of the same ways—I found myself avoiding certain topics during conversations with them, papering over possible differences, anticipating their expectations.

In the same passage, he defended himself against the charge of selling out for money.

On core issues I was candid; I had no problem telling well-heeled supporters that the tax cuts they’d received from George Bush should be reversed. Whenever I could, I would try to share with them some of the perspectives I was hearing from other portions of the electorate: the legitimate role of faith in politics, say, or the deep cultural meaning of guns in rural parts of the state.

Of all the issues confronting America’s ruling class with, faith in politics and the Second Amendment right to bear arms are probably the least challenging. Nowhere in The Audacity of Hope did he claim to have vexed his benefactors with the message that their unearned wealth should be redistributed to create a more viable economy and more just society. Nor did he claim to have told them that government defence contracts should be cut back or that the banks and hedge funds should be more rigorously regulated. Again, he is frank with his readers, whom he would soon ask to vote for him:

Still, I know that as a consequence of my fund-raising I became more like the wealthy donors I met, in the very particular sense that I spent more and more of my time above the fray, outside the world of immediate hunger, disappointment, fear, irrationality, and frequent hardship of the other 99 percent of the population–that is, the people that I’d entered public life to serve.

His remedy was not to introduce legislation to separate electoral campaigns from big money. It was to dilute money’s influence with the participation of campaign volunteers on the basis that “organized people can be just as important as cash…”

Not many people have time for full-time, unpaid campaigning, he wrote,

[Y]ou go where people are already organized. For Democrats, this means the unions, the environmental groups, and the prochoice groups. For Republicans, it means the religious right, local chambers of commerce, the NRA [National Rifle Association], and the anti-tax organizations.

He won the Senate seat through a combination of sound politicking, money and luck (his opponent was caught up in an unfortunate sex scandal). Next, he found a house in the Kenwood neighbourhood near the University of Chicago that, with a cellar for 1,000 bottles of wine, was more suitable for a US. Senator to entertain his new friends than the condominium he shared with his wife and two daughters in Hyde Park. The deal he made to buy it was, by his own confession, “bone-headed.” Even Don Rose, despite his support for Obama, said the deal “didn’t pass the sniff test.” For help in
purchasing the property at 5046 South Greenwood, for which the vendor was asking $1.95 million, he went to his old friend and backer Tony Rezko.

Rezko had been an effective member of Obama’s senate campaign finance committee, along with fellow developers Valerie Jarrett and Allison Davis. By 2005, however, Chicago newspapers had already reported that Tony Rezko was under federal investigation for bribery, fraud and money laundering.

The house Obama wanted was on one of two lots that belonged to a doctor, who was selling the two properties together. Obama and Rezko’s wife, Rita, completed purchase of the adjoining properties on the same day—Obama for $300,000 less than the sale price, Rita Rezko for the full price. Afterwards, Mutual Bank, which financed Mrs. Rezko with a loan of the legal maximum 80 per cent of purchase price, dismissed an employee, Kenneth J. Conner. Conner, who had accused the bank of overvaluing the vacant property at $650,000 to lend Mrs. Rezko the $500,000 she needed, told journalists, “The entire deal amounted to a payoff from Tony Rezko to Barack Obama.” Obama later bought a strip of land beside his property from Mrs. Rezko for $104,500. When the arrangements became public, Obama answered questions by the Chicago Tribune’s editorial staff in March 2008. Had Rezko asked for anything in return from the prospective president? “No,” Obama said. “Because I had known him for a long time, and so I would have assumed I would have seen a pattern [of Rezko asking for favours] over the course of fifteen years.” Apparently, the letter he wrote on behalf of Rezko’s Cottage Grove scheme in 1998 did not count as a favour.

Federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who has become to Chicago’s politicians what Elliot Ness was to Al Capone during Prohibition, won a conviction in June 2008 of Rezko on sixteen of twenty-four charges of corruption. He followed this up with the impeachment of Governor Rod Blagojevich for fraud, extortion and seeking to sell Obama’s vacant Senate seat to the highest bidder.  Obama’s ties to Blagojevich were not close, but they were connected through the Cook County Democratic Party and common advisors like Rahm Emmanuel and David Axelrod.

Obama & Daley

Obama never made an issue of the Daley Machine. As a politician, he did not join the South Side residents whose lives he once hoped to improve as an organizer in opposing the mayor’s excesses. Yet he kept what he called a “cordial, not close” relationship with the mayor. However, when he announced his candidacy for president in 2007, he endorsed Daley for mayor and Daley backed him for president. (That was the day Hillary Clinton should have known her campaign was over.) “It was a marriage of convenience, brilliantly brokered by David Axelrod, a campaign strategist for both men,” wrote Ben Joravsky in The American Prospect.

Obama’s endorsement cut the ground out from under Dorothy Brown, Daley’s most significant black challenger. And with Daley’s blessing it was suddenly safe for everyone and anyone in town to join Obama’s campaign for change and become a reformer. So long as it was Washington, and not Chicago, getting reformed.

Obama, who had learned about fund raising from the Chicago experts, went national in his search for money. His campaign used the internet to obtain small donations that involved ordinary voters in his fate, but it also did what the experts thought impossible: it raised more money from corporate American than the Clintons. The Center for Responsive Politics reported that among his biggest donors were Goldman Sachs at $955,223, JP Morgan Chase at $642,958, Citigroup at $633,418 and the largest corporate law firms, who are also registered lobbyists. His record-breaking $700 million in donations has set a new level for campaign funding, making high office more expensive than ever. It will inevitably leave elected politicians with more debts that some of their donors expect to be repaid.

* * * * * * *

There are two ways of doing politics short of revolution. One is for a community to seek participation in the system, as the once-disenfranchised peoples of South Africa, Bolivia and Brazil did. They put forward leaders to articulate their demands and, if necessary, take office for their benefit. The other way is for a politician to organise people to promote him for office and to support his demands. The first is a popular model, the second populist. George Packer wrote in the New Yorker, “Obama’s movement did not exist before his candidacy; its purpose was to get him elected.” He added that the “Obama movement remains something less than a durable social force.” Unlike the Democratic Party Machine in Chicago.

It would be a mistake to assume that Obama is owned by those who helped him to power anymore than Richard J. Daley was when he became mayor of Chicago in 1955. Mike Royko wrote of a cartoon that appeared in his newspaper, the Chicago Tribune, just after Daley’s election. He saw it in the house of Daley’s old friend, Alderman Tom Keane.

The cartoon portrays Daley as a grinning wind-up doll, clutching a sign that says “Give Chicago leadership.” Holding the oversized doll-crank are caricatures of John D’Arco, the Syndicate’s political representative, William Dawson, the black boss, Joe Gill, the party ancient, Artie Elrod, the Twenty-fourth Ward boss, Paddy Bauler, a boisterous ward boss and saloon keeper, and Keane himself, all smiling evilly.”

Keane told Royko, “Every time Daley comes over here, he looks at that thing and laughs.” Obama too may laugh one day at those who believe Richard M. Daley, David Axelrod, Rahm Emmanuel, Valerie Jarrett and the rest of the Cook County Machine will manipulate him. Yet, like Daley, he may know which favours must be repaid.

When Obama left Chicago for the White House this year, the city was much as he found it when he began his political life there in 1991. The Daley Machine was intact, favours were granted to cronies and the key to power remained the raising and dispensing of money. Obama will be only fifty-six years when he leaves the White House, provided the electorate grants him a second term in 2012. If he doesn’t disgrace himself, or perhaps if he does, he may yet become mayor of Chicago. He would be only three years older than Richard J. Daley was in 1955, and Daley lasted another twenty-one years.

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Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett

Valerie B. Jarrett is a Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama. She oversees the Offices of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs and chairs the White House Council on Women and Girls.

 

Valerie Jarrett

 

Valerie B. Jarrett is a Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama, overseeing the White House Offices of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs, and chairing the White House Council on Women and Girls.

Ms. Jarrett has worked throughout her tenure at the White House to mobilize elected officials, business and community leaders, and diverse groups of advocates behind efforts to strengthen and improve access to the middle class, to boost American businesses and our economy, and to champion equality and opportunity for all Americans. From ongoing campaigns to end sexual assault, raise the minimum wage, advocate workplace policies that empower working families, and promote entrepreneurship and early childhood education, Ms. Jarrett has helped the President develop a broad coalition of partners to execute a robust agenda.

Ms. Jarrett came to the White House with a background in both the public and private sectors, having served as the Chief Executive Officer of The Habitat Company in Chicago, Chairman of the Chicago Transit Board, Commissioner of Planning and Development, and Deputy Chief of Staff for Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley.

She also served as Co-Chair of the Obama-Biden Presidential Transition Team, and the director of corporate and not-for-profit boards including Chairman of the Board of the Chicago Stock Exchange, Chairman of the University of Chicago Medical Center Board of Trustees, and Director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

Jarrett received her B.A. from Stanford University in 1978 and her J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School in 1981.

 

Valerie Jarrett with Bill Daley, David Plouffe, and Jay Carney.

Valerie Jarrett is hard to find. Outsiders catch only short glimpses of her — a public conversation with Natalie Portman at a campaign event for women in Las Vegas, a wire photo with Will.i.am on the convention floor, a rare television appearance on Morning Joe. She’s not one of the administration’s leading public faces, but her low profile belies her importance. She holds the title of senior advisor to President Barack Obama; she is a best friend to Michelle. She is one of the most powerful black women in American history.

Since 2008, more than 42,000 words in at least three dozen major-media profiles and large sections of Jodi Kantor’s bestselling book The Obamas have sought to convey her importance. The New Republic alone has called her “The Third Obama” and “Barack Obama’s Fixer” and “protector of Barack’s immortal soul.” The Washington Post has dubbed her “Obama’s Cold Shoulder” and “the real power” in the White House. Vogue says she’s “Barack’s Rock.”

But she has her haters. She’s butted heads with some of the biggest male egos in the administration, including Rahm Emanuel, Robert Gibbs, David Plouffe, Larry Summers, Peter Orszag, and even the relatively mellow David Axelrod. And in the final stretch of the president’s reelection campaign, Jarrett’s position has come under persistent attack from both inside and outside the White House. A piece in the New York Times gave her the nickname “the Night Stalker” (for allegedly playing the family-friend card to access the White House’s residential wing and lobby the president after work hours) and reported that some anonymous fellow staffers said she enjoyed “the trappings of power” to an unbecoming degree. In the piece, Axelrod was quoted on the record describing Jarrett’s powerful but not strictly defined place within the White House’s organizational hierarchy as a “manageable problem” — not exactly a ringing endorsement.

Meanwhile, Bob Woodward gave her an unflattering portrayal in his new book, The Price of Politics. In chapter nine, former economic adviser Larry Summer blames Jarrett for the White House’s frayed relationship with Wall Street. In chapter six, the former CEO of Verizon complains Jarrett didn’t arrange enough time with him for the president at a Super Bowl party. “15 seconds,” the CEO is quoted as saying. Jarrett is alleged to have responded by telling him he was lucky just to be in the room.

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Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

What makes Jarrett such a contentious figure inside the White House? Some friends and colleagues say it’s the envy provoked by her powerful bond with the First Family. What terrifies Jarrett’s internal critics most, her friends say, are the moments that only she shares with Barack and Michelle, and the idea — real or imagined — that those discussions may have more sway than the conversations the president and first lady hold with other top advisors in the court. That those private moments between Jarrett and the president are essentially unknowable, even to the inner circle, makes her presence a threat. “There’s a certain parlor game about people who have pre-existing relationships with the First Family or with the president — people whose jobs you can’t necessarily put in a neat box,” says a former White House aide who worked with Jarrett. “There’s a natural curiosity about that, and for people, there’s a natural insecurity about that.”

There’s also the fact she’s not from the Beltway. She had already established a separate universe of power before coming to Washington, which might intimidate those political creatures whose resumes include little achieved beyond the Acela corridor. And then there’s the fact that, however liberal the ideals of the Democratic Party might be in theory, she’s still a black woman in a world of white men. Jarrett’s friends and allies suspect the recent attacks stem not just from resentment over her close relationship to the president but from blatant sexism. “If she wasn’t a woman, it would be different,” one close friend and former White House official told BuzzFeed. “Sexism is there.”

Jarrett has faced this Revolt of the White Male Ego in her usual style — with discretion and the confidence that her place within the administration is always secure. She has a twenty-year friendship with Barack Obama and gave Michelle her first important job. She’s inured from the Washington anxiety of worrying about your status with the president in a time of crisis. Her role is too broad and essential for that. She is a political North Star — trying to keep, say, a sense of continuity for the First Family between DC and Chicago; reminding Obama that his values, shaped on the city’s South Side, are truly liberal and progressive. She ensures that no unseemly suitors — like insufferable CEOs or overeager staffers — get inappropriately close to Barack. She’s Michelle Obama’s proxy in policy debates — “the reason you don’t see Michelle’s fingerprints on anything is because of Valerie,” says one scribe who’s covered her extensively. And she’s an enforcer. “To work with Valerie, you have to understand that she’d cut your throat and your children’s throat to protect the president,” one White House official told BuzzFeed. “If you go into it understanding that, then there’s no problem.”

Jarrett has continued to be what campaign spokesperson Stephanie Cutter calls one of Obama’s most “sought-after surrogates,” involved in “raising money, launching Women for Obama, visiting college campuses, traveling the country, rallying our supporters.” Besides the media hits and campaign events, Jarrett has done at least seven private fundraisers this year. “Valerie helps the Obamas achieve what they want to do,” says her cousin, Anoinette C. Bush, a partner at Skadden, a powerful law firm that hosted a phone bank for Obama’s 2008 bid. That’s not as obvious an observation as it sounds. To someone powerful, an advisor that has no personal agenda — even a benign one — or biases is a precious commodity. “Her role [now] is to get the president re-elected.”

Only once during the 2012 campaign cycle has Jarrett truly advertised the extent of her power — the week of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. She was relentless. At the DNC, Jarrett’s days began around 5 a.m. She did seven major media appearances over the three-day period. Jarrett’s octogenarian mother proudly accompanied her onto CBS This Morning, “in awe” of her daughter, as one friend put it. VJ — as she signs her emails to friends, and is referred to in internal White House communications — traveled to events with a robust Secret Service escort, shaded from hassles in a cocoon of black sedans. Unapproved reporters struggled to get close to her, while she was treated with deference at her appearances.

On Tuesday of the convention, she headlined the California Democratic Party breakfast in the Blake Hotel, right after spending thirty minutes on stage for a Bloomberg Q&A. On Wednesday evening, she partied with President Obama’s closest friends and supporters in a private event at Delta’s, a southern-themed soul food restaurant and bar. The guest list included Obama’s former body man Reggie Love, uber-bundler and private equity player Brian Mathis, consulting and finance bigshot Robert Wolf, and the New York Times’ Kantor. Eyewitnesses said she tore up the dance floor, enjoying her role as “the Queen Bee” of Obamaland, as one guest put it. Topping off Jarrett’s week: on Thursday night, she watched Barack Obama’s acceptance speech from Michelle Obama’s box seats on the Time Warner Cable Arena’s third floor. It was a display of status unmatched by anyone else in Obama’s inner circle.

How did Valerie Jarrett come to be powerful enough to brush off attacks conveyed through such Establishment mediums as the New York Times and Bob Woodward? She declined a request to be interviewed for this story. BuzzFeed did, however, interview over a dozen of her friends and colleagues. We visited the Chicago neighborhoods where she built her Illinois legacy, and spoke at length with other journalists who covered her. And in the course of the reporting, BuzzFeed did get to meet Jarrett once — but in an off-the-record setting on the campaign trail. Though we’re not allowed to report what was said, our general impression was that Jarrett, among Obama’s advisors, projects a certain fearlessness and composure exclusive to accomplished maternal figures the world over. It reminded us of a story we’d heard about her: unflinchingly watching a Chicago housing project demolished in 1998, her face and clothes covered in soot. “She took so much pride in being there,” says a friend who was with her that day. “Not just talking about it, [but] an ability to turn talk into action.”

In other words: she’s a woman who is not going to take any shit, from anyone, including the President.

 

Before putting her stamp on Washington, Jarrett established herself over a lifetime in Chicago. Born in Iran in 1956 to two parents committed to public service — her father, Dr. James Bowman, ran a children’s hospital in Iran, and her mother, Barbara Taylor Bowman, worked in public schools and would later found the Erickson Institute, a leading center for child development research — Jarrett moved back to the city when she was six years old.

Six-year-old Jarrett might have been new to Chicago, but her family was already one of the most well-known in the city’s black community. Her grandfather, Robert Taylor, was a housing activist and chairman of the Chicago Housing Authority. His name would be made famous — or infamous — by the Robert Taylor Homes, a housing project Jarrett would later help tear to the ground. Taylor envisioned a working-class black population provided with safe, government-funded affordable housing in good neighborhoods. It wasn’t a dream realized during his own lifetime, and Jarrett would take it up in her own career.

Chicago was — and still is — one of the most segregated cities in the country, and Jarrett’s neighborhood, Hyde Park-Kenwood, was mostly black. It was, however, an upscale area — it’s where both she and the Obamas currently have their homes — and she was tagged early to have a bright future.

“Valerie and I grew up on the same block,” said John Rogers, chairman of Ariel Investments, a friend to the Obamas, and the ex-husband of Desirée Rogers, the former White House social secretary. “As a kid she was always sort of a very quiet and thoughtful young person — just a little quiet, and always a little shy. I can remember when I started to realize her leadership skills.”

“As a child, Valerie read a lot,” remembers Antoinette Bush, who lived in the same neighborhood as her cousin and Rogers. “I remember growing up and going to political rallies with Valerie when I was, like, ten. There was a mall in our neighborhood, and we would go to these rallies at a really young age. Our parents were very involved in the community, and it rubbed off on us,” said Bush.

Jarrett’s roots in Chicago shaped her worldview — one that respects established power but prioritizes responsibility to the larger community. In September of 2011, she’d speak at length about the importance of Chicago — and her neighborhood — at her father’s funeral. “At her dad’s funeral,” Rogers recalls, “the one thing that Valerie talked about was that her parents could have settled anywhere in the world — they were comfortable around the world and had lived in different places — and they choose to live in the Hyde Park-Kenwood area and be a part of the Chicago community.”

“It’s not a coincidence that two of the three elected African-American senators came from Kenwood,” added Rogers.

Jarrett spent her college years at Stanford University studying psychology, then got a law degree from the University of Michigan. After school, she returned to Chicago, where she found her very first summer job as a clinic coordinator at the University of Chicago Medical Center (she would later end up on the hospital’s board). “My responsibility was to greet patients when they came to the clinics and make sure that their medical records were complete,” Jarrett would later say. “I learned a lot about dealing with people who are under an enormous amount of stress, attention to detail, showing up to work on time, making sure that everything from the beginning of the visit to the end of the visit went well. And all of those skills have helped me enormously in the White House.”

In the early ’80s, while Barack Obama was finding himself at Columbia University and then later on Chicago’s South Side, the city elected its first black mayor — Harold Washington. Washington’s election sent shockwaves through the political class — it was the first significant break from Mayor Richard J. Daley’s decades-long stranglehold over the town’s notorious political machine. Washington beat Daley’s son, Richard M. Daley, in a tight three-way race, pushed over the edge by more than one hundred thousand new black voters, a bloc not dissimilar from the first-time young and black voters that would put the first black president in the White House three decades later. By the time Washington won a second term as mayor in 1987, Jarrett had left her job at the hospital for a spot at law firm Sonnenschein, Carlin, Nath & Rosenthal — where she had worked her way into an office on the 79th floor of the Sears Tower — but the job left her unfulfilled. Jarrett signed up to work for Washington, becoming the mayor’s finance deputy before his untimely death later in the year. When the younger Daley took over after Washington’s passing — reasserting the family power over the city — Jarrett was kept on staff.

“We were so desperate to talk to competent people to have them show us the ropes,” remembers MarySue Barrett, then a new Daley staffer who helped make the transition between the two administrations. “Like, who are the good guys we need to talk to here? And Valerie stood out as a good resource from day one. Mayor Daley saw that and promoted her.”

Jarrett stayed with Daley for six years. He first promoted her to Deputy Chief of Staff in 1989, and then, in 1992, tapped her to oversee the Department of Planning and Development. He recognized not only her talent, but her ability to bridge the gap between Chicago communities — white and black, public and private, rich and poor — and to connect “all these intersecting circles,” explained Barrett. “She lived in Kenwood and was very plugged into that community, to the University of Chicago, and to African-American leadership. Not a lot of people have networks as broad as she does.”

Sticking with Daley would lead to the two of the most profound events in Jarrett’s career — both personally and professionally. In 1991, Susan Sher, who had the office next door to Jarrett’s at City Hall, handed her a resume from a woman named Michelle Robinson. Sher, who later would become chief of staff in the East Wing, recalls that Jarrett and Michelle hit it off immediately. As Jarrett would later recount, she spent an hour and a half meeting with Michelle, and made her a job offer on the spot. Michelle became an aide to Daley, then worked as an assistant in the city’s Planning and Development office.

Michelle and Jarrett’s lives would be forever intertwined: soon enough, Michelle had told Jarrett about a guy she was dating, Barack Obama. One of Jarrett’s longtime policy assistants in Chicago, Greg Longhini, remembers thinking of the future President as “just a guy dating Michelle.” But Jarrett had heard of the “hotshot” young lawyer who headed up the Harvard Law Review, and gave him her seal of approval. She started to introduce Obama around town, and held a book party for Dreams From My Father. “My first recollection of meeting him [Obama] was when his first book came out,” says Bush. “Valerie was very enthusiastic about him and his book. She had already been involved in his early campaign efforts at that point.”

As her relationship with the Obamas developed, Jarrett embarked on what would be her most ambitious — and controversial — project of her lifetime: radically transforming Chicago’s housing projects. It would be much of her life for almost 15 years, from the moment she left the Mayor’s office in 1995 to head a development company called Habitat until she left Chicago for Washington, D.C. in 2008.

 

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Jarrett at a row of new Chicago public housing units in 1998. Reuters archive / Reuters

In the ’80s and ’90s — and to a slightly lesser extent today — the projects in Chicago were known around the country for their horrible violence and squalid conditions. Names like Cabrini Green would enter the national consciousness as abysses of gang violence, drugs, and despair. In 1981 then-mayor Jane Byrne moved into Cabrini for three weeks to prove that it was safe. But nearly 20 years later it still wasn’t — a 9-year old girl, who became known nationwide as “Girl X,” was left for dead in Cabrini’s stairwell, where she had been found raped, choked, and poisoned.

The projects were a problem, and when Jarrett left the mayor’s office for Habitat Company — the court-appointed supervisor of all Chicago Housing Authority projects — it was her job to fix them. Her decision to leave the Mayor’s office for Habitat was controversial and much talked-about in the Chicago papers. Crain’s Chicago Business speculated that her decision had to do with public-sector red tape — “bickering alderman, anxious developers and bureaucratic infighters.” Others said it had more to do with the resignation of key Jarrett allies and a crop of unfamiliar aides coming in. Jarrett told the Chicago Tribune that her new job would allow her to focus on what she called her “real love”: community development.

Despite the high-profile departure, Jarrett kept close ties to the public sector and to Daley, who appointed her chairman of the Chicago Transit Authority, a part-time post she held for him until 2003. Barrett explains that Jarrett and Daley had an umbreakable trust — and “very easy chemistry,” she said, adding that Daley “always had strong support with African-American leadership, and his support grew overtime — that’s true in part because of Valerie making sure that he would get to know certain people, meet people, interact with organizations he wouldn’t otherwise,” said Barrett. “She helped him be a more effective mayor.”

At Habitat, Jarrett was tapped to oversee a scattered-site housing program, designed to desegregate the city by placing publicly-funded low-rise units — town homes or small apartment buildings — in affluent neighborhoods. It was a new vision for public housing, and a sharp departure from the school of thought that had given Chicago its dozens of supposedly modern, uplifting high-rises in the 1950s and ’60s.

For Jarrett, that meant tearing the high-rises down and relocating residents into low-rise, mixed-income housing. “Chicago essentially had two choices in front of them: to rebuild on the land, to rehabilitate and restore, and to raze completely,” says Sudhir Venkatesh, a professor of sociology at Columbia University who is writing a book about the city’s so-called Plan for Transformation. “They chose not to rehabilitate; they decided to tear down everything.” And that included the notorious Robert Taylor Homes, named after Jarrett’s own grandfather.

But that’s what her grandfather would have wanted, her friends say. The chairman of the Chicago Housing Authority from 1943 to 1950, Robert Taylor was one of the first advocates for mixed-income community development. He abhorred the idea of high-rises, but after he stepped down as chairman, the CHA went on to build them throughout the city, and christened one complex for him in 1962, well after his death. Destroying the high-rises and replacing them with housing that would lead to economic and racial integration, Jarrett would later say, was “how my grandfather’s vision will be realized.”

This was Jarrett continuing — or trying to rectify — her own grandfather’s failed attempts at providing decent housing. “When we were growing up,” remembers Bush, “the housing projects in Chicago were terrible. It was clear that the idea of these high-rise compounds of poor people was not a successful model. I think she’s proud of her work. She’s implementing her grandfather’s vision.” Bush added that some might have been “afraid to say that a project named after her grandfather was not successful. But it was a problem, and she attacked it.”

According to Mark Segal, Habitat’s current president and CEO, the company has developed scattered-site housing in 43 of Chicago’s 50 wards. Their work — though impressive in scale — has not been without controversy. The Plan for Transformation is running nearly three years behind schedule. Grove Parc, a Habitat-managed property, was handed over to a new company after it received a score of 11 on a 100-point scale during a federal inspection. BuzzFeed visited some Habitat sites during the reporting of this story. On a Saturday night in September at Grove at around 1 a.m. a gang of youths hung outside an unwelcoming row of apartments, while only two blocks away a man on a corner advertised the availability of drugs and prostitutes. However, in other neighborhoods — like where the Robert Taylor Homes once stood — the area around public housing had taken on a safe, almost suburban feel.

Meanwhile, finding temporary and new housing for the thousands of residents whose homes in high-rises were razed is an ongoing challenge. There are some residents in Chicago, too, who blame the bloody gun violence — on one September weekend this year, there were 19 shootings in under 12 hours, much of it in neighborhoods that have never seen such levels of crime — on the scattering of gangs across the city. A 2008 cover story in The Atlantic publicized the research of scholars who believed mixed-housing policies like Chicago’s could actually raise overall levels of violence by pushing borderline-dangerous neighborhoods past a tipping point at which crime skyrockets.

That said, according to the most comprehensive study, crime has dropped 4 percent since the plan took effect. “We released a study in April — and this is not an easy question to study — but there was a theory that was promoted by the Atlantic that when you tear down high-rises, crime rises,” said Dr. Susan Popkin, Senior Fellow at the Urban Institute. “The CHA and McArthur Foundation asked us to look into the question in a more meaningful way. Our research shows that when they tore it down there was an enormous reduction in crime, and a net benefit for the city overall. It reduced crime for the whole city.”

Though the overall success of the transformation project is still up for debate, Jarrett’s reputation has only grown since she took the Habitat job. She makes colleagues feel like friends; people who meet Valerie Jarrett become her allies. By the time she left Chicago for Washington, DC, she sat on over 25 boards and had a rolodex that included bankers, celebrities, media titans, and political insiders. “A lot of people have a web of relationships, but it’s like a spider web that doesn’t withstand pressure — a heavy wind comes along and it’s gone,” said Barrett. “Valerie’s network has been so valuable because those are really deep ties. They don’t come down. When controversies do arise, people stick by her. She always assumes that someone she meets will reappear later in life.” Even those pegged as rivals — like Joseph Shuldiner, executive director of the CHA, who reportedly clashed with Jarrett in the ’90s — have benefited from Jarrett’s extensive network. “I did then and do now have absolute respect for Valerie,” Shuldiner told BuzzFeed. “My daughter went to Lab [the University of Chicago Lab School] after spending a day at the school with Valerie’s daughter.”

When Jarrett was still in Chicago, she had her assistant create a database of young talent, people to keep in mind down the road. “She set up a system to track resumes of people who were asking for help,” remembers Barrett. “Then people like me would say, ‘I’m looking for a board members with these skills, or a worker with these skills,’ and she was always had someone to refer to me. I remember her saying, ‘Oh, let me check my list!’”

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After flirting with the idea of trying to replace Barack Obama as senator, Jarrett moved to Washington, D.C. to join the Obama administration. She took an apartment in Georgetown, where she’s been a “totally cool” neighbor, according to a source in her building — the type who didn’t mind knocking on the door to, say, borrow an opener for a bottle of wine. At work on 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., however, she would begin to clash with others around the president, including Rahm Emanuel and spokesperson Robert Gibbs. Rahm, according to friends, didn’t want her anywhere near the Oval Office, while Gibbs clashed with her over how to handle Michelle Obama’s image. It should be noted, however, that Gibbs is the one who left the White House, not Jarrett.

Her colleagues quietly built a case against her in the press, starting with Kantor’s book earlier this year, putting the blame on her for the Obama administration’s unsuccessful Olympic bid for Chicago in 2016. She also had the unenviable job of doing outreach to a business community whose feelings had been hurt by Obama’s criticism of “fat cats,” and his comment that big corporations shouldn’t be blowing money on trips to Las Vegas. In Nevada, Obama’s line about Vegas would be seized upon by casino magnates Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn, who would blame the president for a downturn in business and throw tens of millions of dollars into the effort to get him out of the White House).

In her other role as the “protector of Barack’s immortal soul,” she’s put her imprint on a range of issues that have been popular with the president’s liberal base, including financial regulations, immigration, marriage equality, and women’s health. During the crafting of new financial regulations, she lobbied for the input of Paul Volcker — which put her on the wrong side of other advisors like Larry Summers and Tim Geithner. “I remember her saying this about Volcker, that Volcker was not having a voice,” says a former White House official. “She was playing her typical role — she felt he deserved to have input, she thinks there are people without a voice, and she considers the voiceless.”

She also takes it upon herself to implement what she sees as the president’s true vision when he faces resistance from other staffers. “The president was giving an immigration speech, and [told the staff] what he wanted, but the draft kept coming back that it didn’t go as far as he wanted to go. So she was telling people, you heard what he said he wanted.” Earlier this year, she pushed hard to ensure women’s birth control would be covered by employers, regardless of religion, a position that insiders speculate Michelle held as well.

Despite having recently come to a head in the press, White House drama might be behind her, according to her friends. Rahm is gone, Gibbs is gone, and Plouffe — who never particularly cared for Jarrett, as he makes clear in his book The Audacity to Win — he’s sticking in his own geeked-out lane on the campaign. (In the book, Plouffe mentions Jarrett an icy four times; Gibbs and Axelrod get over 50 mentions each.) “If you look at the current chief of staff, there’s none of that infighting,” says a former White House official. “[Jacob] Lew’s a grownup, he doesn’t seem to be threatened by her.”

As for the nickname “Night Stalker,” current White House officials and friends say they’ve never heard her called that. “An attempt to get a nasty nickname to stick,” as one friend put it. Said another former East Wing aide: “I read that and it struck me as weird. I never heard that term used… I am not saying Valerie is perfect — who is? — but she is smart, loyal, and tough in the best sense of what any presidency needs to get big things done. It seems to me that a lot of the chatter is coming from quarters that can’t win an argument on substance and can’t earn a place of greater proximity on merit.” As yet another close friend explained: “She doesn’t go over to the residence very often. It is true, every once in a while on invitation she will, if the president’s out of town, and hang out with the first lady. If the first lady is out of town she might go over with the president’s invitation. She goes over there more than other senior staffers, but I’ll bet it’s less than once a month, or less than once every two months.”

With less than two weeks left to the election, Jarrett is focused on keeping the president in power. Jarrett has done 15 campaign events so far this year, all of which have been in swing states, save for a few private receptions in Washington. Last week, she was spotted leaving with the president’s entourage for the town hall debate at Hofstra, getting off Marine One at JFK Airport. Earlier that day, she’d been keeping Michelle company at a campaign stop in North Carolina, “FLOTUS emerged from the bus a minute later and hustled to a black SUV where she took a seat next to Valerie Jarrett,” as the White House pool report noted. And this week, she’s been traveling on Air Force One.

Maybe it is easy to find Valerie Jarrett: just look by the Obamas’ side.

 

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

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