Articles

Channeling Valerie Jarrett

January 29, 2014

Last night, I experienced an episode of senior adviser telepathy, hearing White House aide Valerie Jarrett's thoughts as she left the Capitol in the presidential motorcade following the State of the Union.

Glad that's over. I hate standing along the walls with congressional staff. I'm closer to Barack than Crazy Uncle Joe —and I'm more powerful, too. So why does he get to sit (in view of the camera no less!) while I have to stand up? My feet are killing me.

Well, worth it. Barack gave another extraordinary performance. It will put us on the offensive and Republicans the defensive for the fall. At least if Democrats from red states like Louisiana and Arkansas and Alaska don't start running away from the gift America calls ObamaCare.

Oh, I know. As I told Remnick, most people can't see at first Barack's God-given talents. But Barack is a restless spirit with such extraordinary talents he has to be really taxed to be happy. With dropping poll numbers—just temporarily—and nervous Democrats, he's being taxed, so he's happy and came up with some terrific answers.

Minimum wage, unemployment benefits, universal pre-K, immigration and climate all tested well in the polls. They never get old and Potus never gets tired of attacking Republicans on them.

Wish Coburn, Burr and Hatch hadn't thrown out their health bill yesterday. Complicates our argument that they don't have an agenda. No matter. The MSM will keep that plan in its witness protection program. There are still plenty of journalists we can still rely on. Loved it when Potus said "let's see if the numbers add up." (I'm sure ours will eventually.) Also loved it when he claimed credit for more domestic oil and then said he'd protect federal land from exploration. Yin and yang.

Smart to make income inequality a major focus (though I wish the wordsmiths hadn't sanded off the sharper rhetorical edges I argued for). Helps draw attention away from the GDP and job numbers, which suck because of Republican obstructionism. That income inequality is up under our watch doesn't matter so much as blaming the greedy rich and the banks. Our argument is easy: inequality getting worse on Barack's watch shows just how powerful Wall Street has become and why I need to still be in charge of outreach to them.

Who came up with "myRA"? I'm mad someone would put something into his speech that Potus can't even say. But Podesta (who actually cares about policy) tells me if Treasury comes up with a way to give it a federal guarantee without going to Congress, we can use that power to give guarantees to other things we want, like clean energy or donors' projects. I like how those Clintonistas think!

I loved Barack's tone. It's like I explained to Fussman—the calmer you get, the angrier they'll get. Some people will say he was bored and detached, but that's because they don't get him. It's like I told Remnick: Barack is just too talented to do what ordinary people do. So if he wants bipartisanship, demand it and if Congress doesn't listen, then Barack has a pen that makes him bigger than ordinary presidents.

Wasn't the foreign policy section superb? Out of Iraq without a residual force and soon out of Afghanistan with one, Syrian peace talks, Iranian nuclear program halted and rolled back and Gitmo closed this year!

Some will complain that Barack was tougher on those in Congress who want to reimpose sanctions than on the Iranian regime. Congress doesn't understand what smart diplomacy is all about. They'll learn.

I was worried about the job-training thing, but it is just a review, so Biden can have it. I'll work with Barack on getting CEOs to stop discriminating against the long-term unemployed. We'll welcome our corporate partners to the White House for productive meetings and find examples for Rose Garden events when it turns warm.

It's like I told Fussman, the day before the final exam Barack would open the book, read it and get an A. That's what he did with this speech. Nailed it. I spent our first 18 years together being the older mentor. So it's easy to have my mentee my boss now because I respect him so much.

I have the world's greatest job. Wonder if it's too late to have my Secret Service detail take me to Café Milano for a nightcap to celebrate?

A version of this article appeared January 30, 2014, in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline Channeling Valerie Jarrett and online at WSJ.com.

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