Ed Driscoll

Amateur Hour at the White House

I downloaded Edward Klein’s new book The Amateur: Barack Obama in the White House last night and started reading it on the Kindle; I certainly hope he’s got the documentation to verify all of his quotes, because it’s simply a devastating book. One early Obama biographer quoted the future president as saying, “You know, I actually believe my own bulls***.” Rest assured, Klein is one of the rare journalists — rarer even still a former Newsweek and New York Times editor — who doesn’t — and he goes out of his way to find those who share similar views of Mr Obama.

Based on Klein’s research, and the quotes from those who’ve associated themselves with Obama at one point or another in his life, not surprisingly at this point in time, and pace the title of the Phil Spector song, to know the president is not to love him. The result if a laugh-aloud funny book, popping the gas out of the Hindenburg-sized ego of Mr. Obama on almost every page. (As you may know, the title of Klein’s book comes from an early quote regarding Obama from Bill Clinton; it speaks volumes when Obama makes Bill and Hillary appear as the grown-ups in the room.)

Yesterday, Power Line quoted this excerpt from Klein’s book:

He also had a run-in with Steven Rogers, a wealthy businessman who became the Gund Family Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

Early in his campaign for the U.S. Senate he gave Mr Obama $3,000 and arranged for thousands more dollars to be donated to him on one condition: he come and speak at the school when he got elected.

After becoming a Senator Mr Obama is said to have gone back on his offer because he was too busy and told Mr Rogers: ‘Come on man, you should know better when politicians make promises’.

In a furious tirade Mr Rogers screamed at him: ‘You’re a dirty rotten m*****f*****. What kind of s*** are you trying to pull? F*** you, you big-eared m*****f*****.’

A year later Mr Obama finally showed up but by then Mr Rogers’ had all but written him off as a friend.

As John Hinderaker added in response:

That strikes me as a wonderfully revealing anecdote. “Come on, man. You should know better when politicians make promises.” Have we ever seen a politician as cynical as Barack Obama? I can’t think of one offhand. Compared to Obama, Richard Nixon was an idealist.

Meanwhile, the New York Post quotes a much longer passage from Klein’s book, showcasing an epic cat fight between Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey:

However, by the time Oprah and Gayle landed in Washington a month after the election, Oprah’s relationship with the Obamas had come unglued.

OPRAH had tried to ignore the ominous change in tone coming from the Obama transition team. As Barack Obama’s inauguration drew near, Oprah’s calls to Michelle went unreturned.

Instead, Oprah heard from Max Doebler, the newly appointed White House ceremonies coordinator, who told Oprah that she needed to talk to him first about the interview. What’s more, Doebler said, Oprah had to run her interview questions past Jeff Stephens, a deputy speech writer, for prior approval.

“It was a pain as far as Oprah was concerned,” said a high-ranking executive of Harpo Studios, Oprah’s production company. “Oprah isn’t a snob, but she doesn’t like having to put up with mid-level clerks. These guys were $75,000-a-year men. Oprah was like, ‘Hello, what is this s–t!’

“But she did it; she went to Washington with Gayle and met with both Doebler and Stephens to hash out the details. I was surprised that she went there, hat in hand.”

It soon became apparent that something had gone wrong between Oprah and the new administration — or, more precisely, between Oprah and Michelle Obama.

The problem seemed to originate from two of Michelle’s advisers, Valerie Jarrett and Desirée Rogers, the new White House social secretary. They resented Oprah’s meddling in their bailiwick. Among other things, Oprah had a plan to redecorate the Lincoln bedroom. She also had ideas about how Michelle could put more zing into White House social events.

As the person who controlled access to the first couple, Valerie Jarrett saw Oprah as a potential threat to her power. If Oprah went unchecked, she would bypass Valerie and go directly to the president and first lady. What good was it being the gatekeeper if you couldn’t lock the gate when you wanted? And so Valerie set about turning Michelle against Oprah. Oprah was too close to the president . . . Oprah was acting like she was the first lady . . . Oprah didn’t know her place . . . Oprah was a bad influence . . . Valerie advised Michelle to “distance herself” from Oprah and cut her out of the White House inner circle.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

ACCORDING to sources, Oprah told Gayle King that she felt like getting Michelle on the phone and really letting her have it. Oprah raged: “Michelle hates fat people and doesn’t want me waddling around the White House!”

* * * * * * * * * * * *

“Oprah only wants to cash in, using the White House as a backdrop for her show to perk up her ratings,” Michelle was quoted as telling her staff. “Oprah, with her yo-yo dieting and huge girth, is a terrible role model. Kids will look at Oprah, who’s rich and famous and huge, and figure it’s OK to be fat.”

Oprah went through the roof when she heard about Michelle’s remarks. “If Michelle thinks I need more fame and money,” said Oprah, “she’s nuts.”

At the risk of using a cliche thoroughly deconstructed in one of the latter chapters of Jonah Goldberg’s new book, this is one time where karma meets dogma — certainly ideology at least — and karma may have won out.

I’m only a few chapters into The Amateur, but based upon what I’ve read, it’s certainly worth picking up, and may well contribute to what — at least at the moment — appears to be an accelerating preference cascade that’s working against the president.