Power! Thy Name Is Ms. Valerie Jarrett!
Over thirty years, I have witnessed, embraced, defied and taunted power. Like PORNOGRAPHY, I have never really been able to define it precisely.
For me, it’s taken many a novel and even an eight hundred page doctoral dissertation written as fiction, Terror Counter Terror, to even try to define the limits or gravitas of power.
Perhaps, it is the solace of a man with perspective [read: age] that allows me to try to resuscitate my efforts in explaining power to myself and you, my dear readers.
These nostalgic reflections come not from a personal encounter, but from perusing different articles on a African-American woman whose name happens to be Valerie Jarrett and how she ‘wields power in the White House’.
I do not know her personally, nor would I presume to say that she knows me.
So ignorance favors both of us for the moment.
Also, I stand in no pew of ideology or some ‘ism’.
I simply write with admiration about a woman who ascended with discretion, fortitude and class to a position that has literally made her an unusual subject of examination by this blogger.
First of all, it’s fair to say, that unlike her more outlandish, boisterous, self-aggrandizing counter-part, Ms. Hillary Clinton [both served during the same time and administration], Ms Jarrett has welcomed the shadows of anonymity.
To me, the first sign of an intelligent person, is the fact that they remain discreet, especially when they are overshadowed by the penumbra of the Office of the Presidency. This Office engenders a spectrum of Rorschach responses depending, of course, on the idiosyncrasies of a particular personality trait. This office can amplify the best or the worst of someone’s personality.
If you are bombastic, the office will resonate the bellows of foolish sounds louder than a megaphone and make you sound ‘like a horse’s ass’.
If you are professional, discreet, and unobtrusive it will amplify your silence into a tenor of fear, respect and authority.
From, Ms Jarrett’s biography on Wikipedia ..
Sidebar: Don’t forget, readers, to donate some money to that phenomenal Wikipedia.
Her background appears both cosmopolitan and intriguing.
For example, she was born in Shiraz, Iran to a very famous Pathologist and Geneticist, Dr James E. Bowman. Her mother, Mrs. Barbara Taylor Bowman, created the Erikson Institute which was set up to provide teachers in Chicago with advanced knowledge on child development.
As a trained psychiatrist, I can tell you that I had to learn all of the famous Erik Erikson’s theory on child development, not at the Harvard Medical College, but at the MIT School for International Relationship where my professors in Political Science were personally trained by Erik Erikson.
A bit of academic paradox….
As a child, Ms Jarrett spoke Persian and French. I can assure, you, my dear readers, that being a polyglot at a young age is quite impressive.
Now, I just gave away the secret of my fascination with Ms Jarrett.
I found her to be unique in her accomplishments. But at the same time, I began to understand where she was coming from.
Although I grew up in Harlem and went to Booker T. Washington School on 108th and Amsterdam, my family friends were all, like my own parents, physicians, polyglots [many spoke French and Russian] and they all were part of an organization that they helped to create –HIP: Health Insurance Plan of NYC. A medical services system for the poor city workers and NYC teachers.
The most famous of our friends, was a tall imposing, handsome African –American physician by the name of Arthur Logan. He was as elegant as he was competent. And his sister, was the first female surgeon, I had ever met at six years old.
I grew with the African-American aristocracy. They were not borne to the manor, nor were they endowed with trust funds. They were the ‘best and the brightest‘ of America.
But over the years, as I had moved away from NYC, I had lost contact with these old friends and acquaintances.
Unfortunately, Dr Arthur Logan died a tragic death. But his memory was emblazoned in large letters on the overhang of Harlem Hospital.
Before, there was Obama, I knew a lot about Adam Clayton Powell and Hazel Scott [a famous Jazz singer]. That was the African –American aristocracy of NYC.
I did not know Chicago, nor did I learn about it’s history until recently. I read a brilliant book called, The American Pharaoh written by Cohen/Taylor…. About the brilliant Mayor Richard Daley. Now that was one brilliant Irish politician.
Anyway, back to Ms Jarrett.
I found that her polymath background resonated with the fond memories of my childhood.
I also found her to be one of the many African-American who was cosmopolitan, highly educated [Stanford, Univ. of Michigan], and comfortable with different languages and cultures, like others in the early 1950’s and 1960’s when our country was still fighting the basic issues of segregation.
What I found particularly interesting, was the fact that she had chosen a public career, winding her way through the treacherous sinews of Chicago politics.
She started her Chicago politics in 1987, working for Mayor Harold Washington as Deputy Corporation Counsel for Finance and Development.
Next she became Deputy Chief of Staff for Mayor Richard Daley  during which time, she hired Michelle Robinson, then engaged to Barack Obama. So early on, she spotted the talents of both Michelle and Obama and decided to mentor them up the slippery pole of politics onto the national stage.
From 1991 till 2005, Ms. Jarrett held an assortment of jobs with impressive titles like Commissioner of the Department of Planning and Development and Chair of the Chicago Transit Board as well as CEO for the Habitat Company, a real estate development and management firm. She then became a member of the Board of the prestigious Chicago Stock Exchange and then it’s Chairperson.
So you get the idea of who this single, divorced mother really is.
She is, for good or bad, a POWERFUL FORCE---with which to reckon.
Now, it becomes obvious at least to me, why she is so valuable to POTUS.
She spotted him. She recruited him. And most importantly, she helped to make him POTUS.
Only, once in the literature of America Presidents did I see such a phenomenon. I had to study the case of Colonel House and President Woodrow Wilson.
As a matter of history, it was House and Mrs.Wilson who actually ran the country that last year-and-a-half, while Wilson was in a coma in the White House.
Thus power has it’s own organic laws of sustainability. Power falls to those who seek and nurture it and conceal it within a veil of secrecy, competence and anonymity.
Power always picks a figure head to front the foot lights of sycophancy and patronage. But it steers clear away from opining on any topic other than to reaffirm that one really does not have the power that other’s imagine the person to have.
Modesty and self-effacement are the prerequisite of true power.
It never rears it’s ferocity in public nor does it unveil it’s cunningness.
Guile remains with power’s purview and deceit becomes it’s ally.
Those who defy it will be dismissed summarily and without recourse.
True Power knows no vengeance, it’s too obsessed pursuing its ultimate goal—more power.
So to Ms. Jarrett, the MISTRESS OF POWER---
VIVE LA REINE!!!! LONG LIVE THE QUEEN!!!!
“Be thankful that we’re not getting all the government we’re paying for.” Will Rogers.