The New Republic’s Noam Scheiber has a must-read on how Valerie Jarrett influences and more or less runs the Obama White House.
Be aware, of course, that the New Republic is no longer a neo-left pub, but a true left organ now. It’s in the tank for Obama ever since Chris Hughes took it over.
It’s at the end of Scheiber’s long piece that we learn that America just doesn’t deserve the holiness that is embodied in Obama and Jarrett.
The post-election Obama sees no need to descend from the heavens to meet us mere mortals halfway.
As it happens, the way the White House runs these days does even less to check Obama’s inclinations. According to a former high-level aide, there is no longer a daily meeting between the president and his top advisers. Under the old system, if the president waved off one adviser’s objection to his preferred plan of action, another could step in to vouch for the objection’s merit. The advice Obama gets now, though, comes more regularly through one-off interactions with the likes of Jarrett and Denis McDonough, who don’t have anyone else to back them up. In the second term, observes the former aide, “Maybe the president says, more often than in the past, ‘We’re doing it.’”
The result is that Obama has become even more persuaded of his righteousness as the years have gone on. His belief that he can win over opponents is unshaken. Unfortunately, these opponents include a party in the throes of radicalism and a self- interested class of ultra-rich that increasingly calls to mind plutocracy—not people whose better instincts you can appeal to. Obama and Jarrett should know this. Any time they have made preemptive concessions to the GOP or business leaders, their negotiating partners have simply pocketed the concessions and asked for more. From the budget battles to immigration reform, they have consistently overestimated the ability of Republican elites to reason with their rank and file. As recently as early this year, the official White House position was that it preferred Congress to ban workplace discrimination against gays. Congress!
Perhaps no episode illustrates this mind-set better than the fate of the consumer agency that the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill created. In 2010, Jarrett and two other advisers persuaded Obama to install a genuine populist in the person of Elizabeth Warren to set up the agency. But they never intended for her to actually run it, a promotion Warren aggressively sought. “Having Warren in the short-term role was their elegant solution,” says a former administration official. “It was the best way to appease the left while preserving [Obama’s] reasonableness to business. That’s what drives him: Do they look reasonable? … That’s what Valerie’s all about.”
It’s no surprise that Barack Obama and Valerie Jarrett would govern as reasonable people. It’s who they are. The tragedy is that we live in surpassingly unreasonable times.
Leftists like Schieber are fascinating creatures. Republicans — supposedly “in the throes of radicalism” — now control the House, the Senate, and have unified control of 23 state governments. The Obama Democrats controlled everything six years ago but have been voted out of control of Congress and only have unified control in fewer than 10 states. The mid-terms saw Democrats bounced out of power in Illinois, Massachusetts and Maryland — deep blue states — while the supposedly “radical” Republicans further consolidated their hold on Texas and Florida and made inroads in North Carolina and Colorado and almost snatched a Senate seat in Virginia. The bench for Republicans deepens down to state legislatures now and into the millenial generation and includes Tim Scott, Nikki Haley, Bobby Jindal, Susana Martinez, Mia Love, Will Hurd and on and on and on; the Democrats’ bench consists of Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren — all Baby Boomers, and two of the three are essentially re-treads now while Warren is a typical northeastern liberal academic with the boutique appeal associated with such candidates. She will not play anywhere outside the deepest blue states. As the three run for president, they will be trying to out-left each other to appeal to a base that is ever more out of touch with reality.
Which party is in the “throes of radicalism” again?