“The only chance the Obama administration has to make a mark would be to work close with Congress,” Mark W. Davis, former speechwriter and senior director of The White House Writers Group (and venerable DC insider) tells me. “But this is a president who is insular… [And] surrounded by people who reflect back to him what he wants to hear… For a man with an Ivy League education, he seems remarkably ignorant of the ways in which past presidents — Lyndon Johnson and Bill Clinton — have worked with Congress.” Davis also underscores that President Obama has not received the memo put forth by American voters last November with the GOP seizing control of the Senate, giving them full command of Congress. President Obama believed the elections were a referendum on his policies, even as Republicans gained seven seats in the Senate and maintained a solid majority in the House of Representatives. The schism between Republicans and Democrats has only widened in recent months.
Davis asserts that the first order of business should be to immediately fire Jarrett, “She remains an enabler of the worst tendencies of Barack Obama to go it alone, even to the point of stiff-arming other Democrats. Some Clinton people say the White House doesn’t understand the need to work the center in American politics, and they lack a fundamental appreciation for how the presidency can be effectively used in Washington.”
To her detractors, Valerie Jarrett is akin to the evil queen in Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs, who ofttimes clouds the president’s smarter instincts for pragmatic governance.
In response to criticism leveled against her, Jarrett recently told the New York Times Magazine: “Oh, my goodness, I intend to stay until the lights go off. Why would I miss a single second of this?” Jarrett also downplays reports that her close friendship with the president and first lady Michelle Obama stemming from their Chicago days makes White House aides often uncomfortable, Jarrett responded: “In a town where access is so important, initially it probably made people a little uncomfortable. I think that has faded. I just want to do my job, and part of my job for the president is to be his friend.”
Obama’s aides have reportedly long resented Jarrett’s selfish and haughty demeanor within and near 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Recent revelations made by Edward Klein, author of Blood Feud: The Clintons and the Obamas have suggested Jarrett had been personally responsible for generating the leaks involving the current scandal engulfing Hillary Clinton who used her private email account while at the State Department. White House spokesman Josh Earnest refuted this charge as“utter baloney”. That has done little to quell the speculation that Jarrett remains a divisive political operative. Simmering tensions remain between the Clinton and Obama camps ever since the neck-and-neck 2008 Democratic race which ultimately selected Obama as the Democratic nominee.
Obama aides remain flummoxed and annoyed. Jarrett continually dines with the Obamas, as if she is part of the First Family. More importantly, Jarrett may have generated as much influence with policy as vetted officials, according to Klein, who reported in 2012 that the president had long delayed the mission that killed Osama Bin Laden. “At the urging of the Valerie Jarrett, President Barack Obama canceled the operation to kill Osama bin Laden on three separate occasions before finally approving the May 2, 2011 Navy SEAL mission,” as reported in the Daily Caller, which cited Richard Minter’s bestseller: Leading From Behind. Minter wrote that Obama canceled the “kill” mission in January 2011, again in February, and a third time in March, largely due to Jarrett’s persuasion. The cancellations reportedly irked the president’s military officials.
Davis also suggests that Obama’s insistence on continuing to play partisan politics and cast Republicans as antagonists remains a weakness. He may even be goading Republicans try and impeach him. “Obama is daring Congress to talk impeachment by saying that he will act outside of the constitutional boundaries through executive orders. Impeachment, of course, requires conviction,” says Davis. “It is very likely, as we saw with Bill Clinton, that such a measure would fail and would backfire, giving the president a popularity boomerang. This group of Republicans isn’t stupid and they aren’t going to rise to the bait. They’d be better off letting Obama do whatever he is going to do, and let the American people react… Republicans would be wise to ignore Obama, who is increasingly irrelevant in domestic politics, and focus on their priorities, which is to create jobs and increase income,” adds Davis.
Does Obama ultimately seek common ground between Republicans and Democrats?
“The president talks of common ground, but the only common ground to be taken are between the two 40-yard lines. Obama sees the common ground as being on the 10 or even the 1-yard line of the Republican side of the field. President Obama has a little time to correct, but he needs to free himself from the uncritical adulation of Valerie Jarrett in order to see the world as it is,” concludes Davis.
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