By Ray LeMoine
Chicago power broker Valerie Jarrett has been named Obama’s “senior adviser and assistant to the president for intergovernment relations and public liaison.” Whatever the fuck that means…
Jarrett may have been number three during the campaign, just after the Davids in terms of influenece, but she was barely reported on. On election night, the campaign trotted Jarrett out on every network—the face of the new America.
Yesterday Gawker got all love-y:
Are we about to fall in love kinda like we did with Condi Rice but only for real this time?
…she’ll be a breath of fresh air to the country at large.
Before we worship Jarrett, let’s remember she’s hated on Chicago’s South Side by the local black community. When she spoke at U Chicago on MLK day this year, protesters disrupted the event. Why? Because Jarrett’s long been a controversial figure tied to the real estate crew—Rezko, Allyson Davis, Marty Nesbit—that gave Obama his initial political seed money.
In the mid-90s, that crew pushed Obama to back private-public housing policies from which they reaped tens of millions in federal tax credits. The crew took the money and flipped it into condo and parking lot development. As CEO of Habitat INC, Jarrett ran several housing projects back into federal hands, leaving residents worse off than before.
The Boston Globe ran a 4000 word story about these failed policies this summer, but few others—including the GOP—took note. In all my reading about Obama, the Jarrett-Nesbit-Davis-Rezko nexus were as sketchy as he got. The GOP likely didn’t touch this Swift Boat-style because it would backfire: “Obama f–ks over inner city blacks” is a message like that would’ve actually helped Obama attract Swift Boat-target honkies.
Sure, Obama won, and the glow surrounding the end of the Bush era feels unreal and amazing, but let’s cast off the deification for a moment. Chicago is hardly a town of political purity and insiders like Jarrett demand skepticism.