All is not lost in the Ivory Tower!
In September/October, Stanford Magazine ran a lavish softball profile of Valerie Jarrett (Stanford ’78) on her role as Barack Obama’s confidante (h/t – reader Ed R.):
Jarrett has been an ever-present figure throughout Obama’s improbable ascent and has become a star in her own right. She appears regularly on national television advocating the president’s position on an array of issues. She was profiled in July on the cover of the New York Times Magazine, and earlier in Vogue. She is that rare political appointee who becomes a public figure, known to millions despite working in what would typically be a behind-the-scenes role.
Political savvy, extraordinary personal skills and intense loyalty established Jarrett as a central member of Obama’s inner circle long before she arrived at the White House. She was co-manager of the presidential campaign, but more appropriately she was its guiding light—the person in every room who best knew the Illinois senator, and who held the most sway. Considered a candidate for Obama’s vacated Senate seat, Jarrett declined the opportunity. “I want her inside the White House,” Obama insisted. “She is family,” the president told the Times; “. . . she is someone I trust completely.”
The piece appeared in the wake of the Jarrett-engineered Van Jones debacle and the Obama/Jarrett/Chicago crony Olympics flop. Like the massive New York Times profile published earlier this year, the Stanford Magazine piece was mum on Jarrett’s hardball days and failed developer record as a slum lord.
But Stanford alumni made sure the magazine’s readership knew the rest of the story.
When I saw the cover photograph of Valerie Jarrett, I was reminded of the school fight song referring to “Stanford Red.” I am quite dismayed that this radical leftist is featured (“I Want Her Inside the White House,” September/October). She is, as you might recall, the one who recruited the self-avowed communist, Van Jones, to be part of President Obama’s inner circle. [Jones was special advisor on green jobs at the White House Council on Environmental Quality from March 2009 until his resignation in September.]
Some have also likened her to a slumlord, er, lady. According to the Boston Globe’s Binyamin Appelbaum on June 27, 2008, Grove Parc Plaza, a slum housing project in the very district that Obama represented for eight years, is 20 percent uninhabitable because of “unfixed problems, such as collapsed roofs and fire damage. Mice scamper through the halls. Battered mailboxes hang open. Sewage backs up into kitchen sinks. In 2006, federal inspectors graded the condition of the complex an 11 on a 100-point scale—a score so bad the buildings now face demolition. . . . Jarrett is the chief executive of Habitat Co., which managed Grove Parc Plaza from 2001 until this winter and co-managed an even larger subsidized complex in Chicago that was seized by the federal government in 2006, after city inspectors found widespread problems.”
As Appelbaum reported, “Grove Parc and several other prominent failures were developed and managed by Obama’s close friends and political supporters. Those people profited from the [federal] subsidies even as many of Obama’s constituents suffered. Tenants lost their homes; surrounding neighborhoods were blighted.” Among those [profiting] was convicted felon, Antoin “Tony” Rezko. Need I go on?
I located this information with a few mouse clicks. You could have done so as well. How far left has the Farm become? Is this cover an indication? Valerie Jarrett has no business being lauded by our magazine, despite her connection with Stanford and the current administration. Shame!
Ward S. De Witt, ’62
How timely to see Valerie Jarrett on the cover. You have highlighted the woman who has just been exposed as one of the most vocal advocates for Van Jones, an avowed communist and public supporter of a cop-killing murderer [death row prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal], now exposed and removed from government.
What a great lesson: Valerie’s Stanford education did not provide her with a moral compass sufficient to recognize that Jones would be bad news in any administration. I’m left wondering if Jarrett, or Stanford, can recognize the immoral shamefulness of her actions?
As a senior mentor in India once told me, “An educated scoundrel is still a scoundrel.” How true it is.
Pete Holzmann, ’79
Black Forest, Colorado
You cannot imagine my dismay to learn that the architect of the Van Jones debacle is a Stanford graduate.
Tom Flood, ’66
The ill timing of the Valerie Jarrett cover story was really quite ironic. Far from being a canard of the right, the Van Jones affair is troubling on many levels. In his own words, Jones, a self-proclaimed communist, attributed his conversion to people he met during his incarceration: “I met all these radical people of color, I mean really radical, communists and anarchists. It was like ‘this is what I need to be a part of.’ I spent the next ten years of my life working with a lot of those people I met in jail, trying to be a revolutionary.” In 1994, Jones was one of the founders of STORM. Among other things, he accused “white polluters and environmentalists” of deliberately poisoning people of color. There is much more, all of which can be easily sourced, but to the point of Jarrett, it was she who, last month, told conferees, “Ooh, Van Jones. We were so delighted to recruit him to the White House. We were watching him . . . for as long as he’s been active out in Oakland.”
Jarrett’s role in the circumvention of confirmation proceedings through the appointment of “czars” is profoundly disturbing. Sen. Robert Byrd, among others, has warned of the danger of these “czar” appointments. The concentration of power in the executive branch, coupled with the circumvention of the confirmation process, is a serious threat to our nation and our way of life.
I hope that this story doesn’t end with the glowing endorsement of the September/October STANFORD.
Thomas A. Keiser
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