Jonathan Alter, a columnist for Bloomberg News and the author of a sympathetic book on Obama’s first term, reported that Jarrett is an unusual presence in the White House: “Staffers feared her, but didn’t like or trust her. At meetings she said little or nothing, instead lingering afterwards to express her views directly to the President, creating anxiety for her underlings and insulting them by saying, ‘I don’t talk just to hear myself talking.’”
Everyone expects a presidential spouse to weigh in on issues, but the reference to Valerie Jarrett, the White House senior adviser who mentored both the president and the first lady at the start of their careers in Chicago, is telling. Her outsize role in many presidential decisions is known to insiders, but she remains resolutely behind the scenes. So when Jarrett does enter the news, it’s significant, because it may provide a window into how the Obama White House really works.