Valerie Jarrett: The woman who stays for dinner
Ryan Summerlin August 21, 2014
Washington insiders are well aware that the key decision maker in the Obama White House is Valerie Bowman Jarrett. Washington lobbyists know that if they have an idea or project to push, unless it has the blessing of Valerie Jarrett, it is probably dead in the water.
Valerie Jarrett may have even more power than Mrs. Woodrow Wilson. Recall, in 1919, President Wilson suffered a debilitating stroke and, for the next 18 months, Mrs. Edith Wilson decided which papers President Wilson saw and which ones he signed. But, despite her influence on President Obama, Valerie Jarrett is not well-known outside of Washington circles.
As most everyone knows, the First Family lives upstairs in the White House in what is known as the presidential residence. What most people do not know is that Valerie Jarrett has her very own bedroom inside the presidential residence and she most often eats her meals with the First Family. Every matter of importance is discussed between the President, the First Lady, and Valerie Jarrett.
Some say that Valerie Jarrett is the de facto President of the United States, that the First Lady is actually the de facto Vice President of the United States and that Barack H. Obama is their skilled official spokesman. The three work together. They travel together. They even vacation together, albeit Barack and Michelle often take separate vacations. When that happens, Valerie usually goes on vacation with Michelle and the children.
So, who is this mysterious l’éminence grise of the Obama White House? She is the daughter of James E. Bowman, M.D. and Barbara T. Bowman. Valerie was born on November 14, 1956, in Shiraz, Iran. Yes, in Shia-dominated Iran, which is now the major self-proclaimed enemy of the United States and of non-Shia Muslims everywhere.
Valerie’s first five years were lived in Iran where her cradle language was Persian and her second language was French. At age 6, she lived in London for a year where her English was perfected. After that, her family settled in a wealthy African-American section of Chicago. She holds a B.A. from Stanford University and a law degree from the University of Michigan. She is a divorced single mother with a grown daughter.
Working quickly up the ranks of Chicago’s Democratic Party politics, Valerie was the person who got Michelle a job in Mayor Richard J. Daley’s office and who served as the Yenta or match-maker (Valerie has a Jewish great-grandfather) who brought Michelle Robinson and Barack Obama together in marriage.
Sometimes, Wonder Wife and I put together imaginary lists of famous dead people we would like to bring back to life and have over for dinner. Usually, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, and the historians Barbara W. Tuchman, Daniel J. Boorstin, and Stephen E. Ambrose top the list. But we also make up lists of today’s interesting people. Someone with the smarts and influence of Valerie Jarrett, despite our political differences, would be more than welcome. To find out why President Obama has been so painfully slow to provide arms and aid to our Kurdish allies (mostly, Sunni) would be worth serving filet mignon and some decent wine. Wonder if Valerie’s background in Iran (mostly, Shia) plays a role?
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, is a laureate of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame, and the Oklahoma University Army ROTC Wall of Fame. He was educated at the University of Oklahoma, the George Washington University, the U.S Naval War College, the University of Nebraska, and Harvard University.