A Chicagoan who helped Mr. Obama navigate his rise through that city’s aggressive politics, Ms. Jarrett came to Washington with no national experience. But her unmatched access to the Obamas has made her a driving force in some of the most significant domestic policy decisions of the president’s first term, her persuasive power only amplified by Mr. Obama’s insular management style.
From the first, her official job has been somewhat vague. But nearly four years on, with Mr. Obama poised to accept his party’s renomination this week, her standing is clear, to her many admirers and detractors alike. “She is the single most influential person in the Obama White House,” said one former senior White House official, who like many would speak candidly only on condition of anonymity.
“She’s there to try to promote what she understands to be what the president wants,” the former aide said. “Ultimately the president makes his own decisions. The question that is hard to get inside of, the black box, is whether she is really influencing him or merely executing decisions he’s made. That’s like asking, ‘Is the light on in the refrigerator when the door is closed?’ ”
I have a question about the code for unsourced allegations, such as "aid one former senior White House official." When I was a kid during the Nixon Administration, I used to assume that quotes from "a senior White House foreign policy official" actually meant somebody pretty junior. I mean, in a sense, everybody in the White House is pretty senior, right? But, eventually, I found out that most of the time, it really meant Henry Kissinger.
So, does this attribution imply former Chief of Staff and now Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emmanuel?
A funny thing with Obama is how much the Chicagoans in his White House hate each other. With Jimmy Carter, the Washington old-timers complained about his Georgia Mafia that he had brought with him to the White House. But my recollection is that the Georgians mostly stuck together. With Obama's Chicagoans, though, they always seem to be out to stab each other in the back. It's not like they are a team, they are just some local bigshots that a small time local politician, Barack Obama, happened to know. A recurrent problem Obama has as in his first try at being an executive is that he doesn't know very many people and he doesn't really want to know more. I can empathize, but still ...