“The Amateur” by Ed Klein – Chapters 10 -11

Ed Klein, former Editor of Newsweek & former NY Times Magazine, Editor-in-Chief

This book has 22 chapters filled with quotes and interviews by people with insider information on Barack Obama. While the left has ridiculed the author, they have not been able to dispute the quotes in the book.

Ed Klein offers a good deal of opinion based on interviews. It is an intense character analysis.

Chapter 10

Valerie V. Rahm

Hosts of complaints about Valerie Jarrett or VJ have come from Republicans, Democrats, the WH press corps, African-Americans and Jews interviewed for the book. VJ keeps the President isolated. Rahm Emanuel has said as much.

VJ refused to stay connected to Obama’s black base in Chicago. When she was approached by ABLE to talk about boards, appointments and so on, VJ said she didn’t want to “listen to them bellyache” though that was not their intent.

People who gave Obama money in 2008 complained that they never hear from him unlike the Clintons who call in a friendly way, showing their appreciation. One donor from Chicago’s Jewish community said Obama “isn’t that kind of warm, fuzzy guy.”

Emanuel and Jarrett were not friends and Emanuel did try to block her appointment to the WH staff. She didn’t like his style of one-hand-washes-the-other. Emanuel is a realist and wanted to cut deals on the economy. Jarrett thwarted him at every turn. Axelrod and Jarrett kept Obama on his big-spending, big-government path.

Billy Tauzin, Washington lobbyist, said “In previous administrations, there’s usually been a coherent meld of these two operations, some sort of broad strategy that was being managed. But that didn’t happen in the Obama White House under Emanuel and Jarrett.” He added, “I haven’t seen such incoherence in the White House since Jimmy Carter.

Tauzin believes that the Democrats and Republicans are very frustrated because they don’t sense any coherence.

The bitter fights between Emanuel and Jarrett often brought Obama to Jarrett’s defense. Emanuel fought the overly-ambitious healthcare plan but lost to Jarrett, Axelrod and Michelle Obama.

Emanuel fought with Jarrett against Obama putting his prestige on the 2016 Summer Olympics and we all know how that worked out. Jarrett thought the Olympic committee would be touched and “there won’t be a dry eye in the room.” He suspected Jarrett wanted Mayor Daley and his political cronies to benefit from the capital it would bring to Chicago. Chicago came in fourth out of four candidates in a complete rout.

Emanuel urged Obama to deal with the skyrocketing unemployment.

Shortly before the President visited Solyndra, which was just before they went belly up after borrowing half a billion dollars from the taxpayers, Jarrett was warned of their possible upcoming demise. She ignore the warnings. Obama famously said upon visiting Solyndra, “The true engine of economic growth will always be companies like Solyndra.”

The WH excuse was that the process for the Solyndra loan began under Bush, ignoring the fact that it was roundly rejected by Bush.

Jarrett was opposed to the raid on bin Laden’s compound but in this case, the President did not listen to her advice.

A high-ranking former staffer said that Jarrett works at making the Obamas suspicious of everyone. She is “both arsonist and firefighter” and has been able “to spread her tentacles into every nook and cranny of the executive branch of government.” She creates fear and keeps their old friends and supporters away. If she can’t control you, you won’t get in.

The staffer said, “Fear is the operative word. When people on the staff hear that Valerie’s in the Family Quarters, it scares them. ‘What is she saying to the president and first lady about me? Is she giving me credit for what I’ve done? Is she distorting what I’ve said? Valerie tells everyone that she’s going up to the Family Quarters, even if she’s only delivering a letter.

Chapter 11
The Wrath of Michelle

The false image of Michelle as a hands-off adviser has been discounted in the book, The Obamas, by NY Times correspondent, Jodi Kantor, who said Michelle is an unrecognized force in her husband’s administration. Kantor wrote, “She was sometimes harder on her husband’s team than he was, eventually urging him to replace them, and the tensions grew so severe that one top adviser erupted in a meeting in 2010, cursing the absent first lady.”

Michelle then went out to restore her image by saying that people try to paint her as some angry black woman.

Kantor was very wounded by the charge of racism and she emphatically stated that there is nothing in the book to imply that, only that she is a very strong woman. The Kantor book is supportive of the Obamas and there was no need for this reaction.

Michelle hides her co-presidency with her husband and their shared worldview is what is bringing us closer to European-style socialism.

She is even further left than her husband. She pushed the healthcare initiative when most advisers were saying not to. She has a strong sense of social justice.

Michelle’s handlers made it appear as if she was opposed to Obama’s running for office. She complained about the political structure not being able to solve the problems of real people and she said she was tired of the political process being given over to the privileged – the wealthy.

If that were true, she would not have married a rising political star. The political system has brought her riches, making her claim seem disingenuous. And, she is playing a major role in the process.

Michelle appears to have held some deep-seated, long-held resentments over the Daley machine’s failure to recognize blacks and her father’s worth. Her father was relegated to being a precinct captain without the raises which normally come with the job. She was best friends with schoolmate, Santita Jackson, Reverend Jesse Jackson’s daughter, but never told her what her father did for a living.

Michelle’s mother is described as formidable with a cynical attitude towards politics and likely passed her attitudes on to her daughter.

Her family thought she might never marry because, as her brother Craig said, “So I was thinking, Barack says one wrong thing and she is going to jettison him. She’d fire a guy in a minute, just fire him.”

Klein said it was hard to find stories about Michelle’s fiery reputation and fits of jealousy, but he did cite several examples. One was from a Harvard Law School classmate of Barack’s who said she didn’t like his pretentiousness and she couldn’t handle his popularity, especially with the women. Once when she met him in the library, some female classmates had just happened upon him, she put her hand on his shoulder possessively and stormed off and went back to Chicago.

He said he didn’t think the relationship would last because she drove a lot of his friends away and they fought incessantly. She insisted that Barack marry her, and when he had cold feet, she persisted and wouldn’t take no for an answer.

Travis Smiley had one of the stories. He moderated a prime-time national debate between Barack and Hillary Clinton, who received the most applause. Smiley said, “After the debate, with the cameras still rolling, the candidates were on the stage shaking hands. And in the midst of all this, Michelle Obama comes up on the stage and grabs me by the back of my jacket, and yanks me backward, and gets in my face. ‘Why are you messing with Barack,’ she yells at me. This is in front of the auditorium with thousands of people. ‘You were unfairly tough on Barack,’ she says. ‘You should know as a black man what he’s up against and what he’s trying to do.” And she proceeds to lay into me. I had to leave her standing there because it was getting really testy.”

Michelle was known to push Barack to go beyond the state legislature and go national.

Once he joined the U.S. Senate and his memoir, Dreams from My Father, became a bestseller, they moved to a mansion, and Michelle landed a cushy job at the University of Chicago Medical Center with a salary of $317,000.

Despite her talk of fairness, she helped launch a program called the South Side Health Collaborative, which saved the hospital millions of dollars by redirecting the indigent from its ER’s to surrounding community hospitals in the South Side. Her hospital was reserved for the prosperous. The president of the American College of Emergency Physicians, Dr. Nick Jouriles, said Michelle’s program came “dangerously close to ‘patient dumping.’ This is and was an illegal practice.

Michelle changed the name of the program to Urban Health Initiative and hired a PR firm co-owned by David Axelrod. They attempted to change the image but not the tactics of the program. Edward Novak, President of Chicago’s Sacred Heart hospital described Azelrod’s PR efforts as “bull.”

According to a Barack confidant, Michelle was “one of the strongest voices” arguing for the appointment of SCOTUS Sonia Sotomayor.

Michelle uses Jarrett to convey her opinions. In the case of Michelle being quoted by Carla Bruni-Sarkozy as saying “that she can’t stand life in the White House,” Gibbs got right on it but not quick enough for Michelle who sent Jarrett to convey her displeasure. Gibbs blew his stack. He said, “Fuck this, that’s not right, I’ve been killing myself on this, where’s this coming from? What is it she has concerns about? What did she say to you”

Jarrett was vague. Gibbs responded, “What the fuck do you mean? Did you ask her?”

Jarrett said the denial from the Élysée didn’t come fast enough. Gibbs wanted to know why Michelle didn’t come to him. Jarrett said he shouldn’t be talking that way. Gibbs said, “You don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about. Jarrett said the first lady would not believe his talking that way and Gibbs said then fuck her too.

Rahm never got along with Michelle either and didn’t appreciate her interference. She would undercut his authority via emails. A story ran about Emanuel trying to save Obama from his amateurish stunts – “Why Obama Needs Rahm at the Top.” It was assumed he leaked it and Michelle was even unhappier with him.

After Martha Coakley lost Edward Kennedy’s seat to Scott Brown, Michelle decided Obama needed all new advisors, starting with Rahm. Rahm offered to resign but was turned down. His days were numbered.

The White House PR team remade here image. The tone and content of speeches changed dramatically. She changed the way she dressed. She softened into June Cleaver and her approval ratings went from 43% to 53% by August 2009.

Michelle presents to many as narcissistic and impulsive. When she took her lavish vacation to Spain during the height of the recession, she was advised against it. The cost to taxpayers was several hundred thousand dollars and brought her negative headlines.

Between August 2010 and August 2011, she spent 42 days on vacation or one out of every nine while Americans on food stamps increased from 32 to 46 million.

Michelle is high maintenance and is treated like a queen with little expected on her.