Who’s The Power Behind Barack Obama’s Throne?

Obama and Valerie Jarrett

Is Michelle Obama the power behind the White House throne in Washington? Or is it the American Vice-President Joe Biden? Or, Chief of White House staff Rahm Emanuel? Could it be State Department chief Hillary Clinton? Or, Barack Obama’s mother-in-law, Marian Robinson?

“You may not recognise her face, or her name. Yet Valerie Jarrett is arguably the most powerful person in the White House apart from the President, ” says Robert Draper of The Independent.

Valerie Jarrett is a Washington outsider with a Washingtonian’s mind-deadening job title: senior adviser and assistant to the President for intergovernmental affairs and public engagement.

“Roughly translated, she is Obama’s intermediary to the outside world. But the 52-year-old Jarrett is also the President’s closest friend in the White House, and it is not lost on her colleagues that when senior staff meetings in the Oval Office break up, she often stays behind with the boss.

“Over a four-month period of reporting, I struggled to understand Jarrett’s ineffable raison d’ĂȘtre in the Obama White House. Perhaps proving that nothing succeeds like failure, my plaintive queries were unexpectedly rewarded one afternoon by a telephone call from the President himself.

” ‘Well, Valerie is one of my oldest friends,’ Obama began. ‘Over time, I think our relationship evolved to the point where she’s like a sibling to me … I trust her completely.’ As his surrogate, Jarrett is trusted ‘to speak for me, particularly when we’re dealing with delicate issues’.

“Among the narrative threads that are weaved, almost uninterrupted, throughout the history of the American presidency, is the inevitable presence in the White House of The One Who Gets the Boss. Karen Hughes got George W Bush. Bruce Lindsey got Bill Clinton. And so on, back to Thomas Jefferson’s lifelong reliance on the counsel of James Madison.

“Jarrett was born of African-American parents in Shiraz, Iran, where her physician father was running a hospital as part of an American aid programme. Obama’s fabled ‘exoticism’ was therefore comprehensible to her, the President told me. ‘She and I both are constantly looking for links and bridges between cultures and peoples,’ he said.”

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Author: SWARAAJ CHAUHAN, International Columnist

Swaraaj Chauhan describes his two-decade-long stint as a full-time journalist as eventful, purposeful, and full of joy and excitement. In 1993 he could foresee a different work culture appearing on the horizon, and decided to devote full time to teaching journalism (also, partly, with a desire to give back to the community from where he had enriched himself so much.) Alongside, he worked for about a year in 1993 for the US State Department's SPAN magazine, a nearly five-decade-old art and culture monthly magazine promoting US-India relations. It gave him an excellent opportunity to learn about things American, plus the pleasure of playing tennis in the lavish American embassy compound in the heart of New Delhi. In !995 he joined WWF-India as a full-time media and environment education consultant and worked there for five years travelling a great deal, including to Husum in Germany as a part of the international team to formulate WWF's Eco-tourism policy. He taught journalism to honors students in a college affiliated to the University of Delhi, as also at the prestigious Indian Institute of Mass Communication where he lectured on "Development Journalism" to mid-career journalists/Information officers from the SAARC, African, East European and Latin American countries, for eight years. In 2004 the BBC World Service Trust (BBC WST) selected him as a Trainer/Mentor for India under a European Union project. In 2008/09 He completed another European Union-funded project for the BBC WST related to Disaster Management and media coverage in two eastern States in India --- West Bengal and Orissa. Last year, he spent a couple of months in Australia and enjoyed trekking, and also taught for a while at the University of South Australia. Recently, he was appointed as a Member of the Board of Studies at Chitkara University in Chandigarh, a beautiful city in North India designed by the famous Swiss/French architect Le Corbusier. He also teaches undergraduate and postgraduate students there. He loves trekking, especially in the hills, and never misses an opportunity to play a game of tennis. The Western and Indian classical music are always within his reach for instant relaxation. And last, but not least, is his firm belief in the power of the positive thought to heal oneself and others.

  • Father_Time

    Uh, how about the American People there Swaraaj.

  • Silhouette

    Uh…I was going to say Swaraaj, we don't have a monarchy so “throne” is only going to agitate people to hear. It's like calling him the Messiah. I don't like it and am frankly tired of it.

    That being said there are a number of people behind Obama's “power” as our elected leader. There always has been. I'd rather have Jarrett than Cheney influencing the Whitehouse any day of the week. Just call it a gut feeling that she would work out better as an advisor than Cheney did as the de facto King of the United States for 8 years..

  • shannonlee

    60 minutes did a story about her around….3 months ago I believe.

  • tropicgirl

    Great. I was wondering who was behind Obama's “genius” public relations strategy. This is the idiot that told the president to attack the voters attending the town halls? This is the idiot who told Obama it is just “fine” to reverse positions to the point that no one trusts a single thing that he says? This is the idiot that told the Obamas to go on “date night” to expensive places while American citizens are turned out into the street? This is the moron who told Obama to make the largest bank heist in the history of the world happen? And, finally, this is the idiot that single-handedly ruined Michelle Obamas reputation by dressing her like a freak? I wondered who that was.

    I guess she cares not if she has a job in 4 years or if the Democrats retain the majority? What a bunch of self-centered opportunists surrounding the Obamas. I wonder if they ever had real friends.