Carol Platt Liebau

Obviously, Bob Woodward wasn't telling who in the Obama White House threatened him.  But does anyone care to hazard a guess?  If I were a betting woman, my choice would be clear: Valerie Jarrett.

Why? Because she is, indeed, a "very senior senior person" (to use Bob Woodward's phrase) at The White House, and she has in the past shown a certain lack of finesse in handling delicate matters.  To quote from a New York Times story on her:

And [Jarrett] is the president’s protector in chief, or as Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner put it, the person who must be as “omniscient as possible” in spotting trouble on the way. Those whom she deems to have failed Mr. Obama tell of scolding late-night calls and her trademark accusation of betrayal: “You are hurting the president.”

But she has also steered him toward controversy . . .

. . . .

With Ms. Jarrett’s unquestioning belief in the president has come a tendency to take political criticism personally, “even when it would be more useful not to,” said Marilyn Katz, a Chicago friend of both Ms. Jarrett and the president. Another friend compared her to a mother whose son can do no wrong: “Even when the neighbors call, she says, ‘No, no, that can’t be.’ ”

So when the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, Anthony Romero, publicly criticized some of the president’s antiterrorism policies, she swiftly shoved back. “Great harm has been done,” she warned in an e-mail he shared with colleagues. “There has been a material breach of trust.”

A White House spokeswoman said Ms. Jarrett does respond aggressively when she feels that the president has been attacked.

. . . .

Ms. Jarrett was similarly “livid,” one former White House official said, with members of the Congressional Black Caucus who accused the president of paying insufficient attention to the particular economic woes of blacks. When the writer and academic Cornel West joined in, calling Mr. Obama the “black mascot of Wall Street,” Ms. Jarrett’s response was “ruthless,” Dr. West said.

He recalled a phone call in which she dismissed his criticism as sour grapes for not receiving a ticket to the inauguration, and said he later heard from friends that she was putting out the word that “one, I was crazy, and two, I was un-American.”

In light of all that, doesn't this threat to Bob Woodward sound like something right out of the Jarrett playbook -- both in its intemperance its inability to understand how anyone might have a legitimate criticism of the President, and its tendency to create controversy?


Carol Platt Liebau

Carol Platt Liebau is an attorney, political commentator and guest radio talk show host based near New York. Learn more about her new book, "Prude: How the Sex-Obsessed Culture Hurts Young Women (and America, Too!)" here.