I don’t think this NYT Magazine article on Val Jar is going to do much to squelch those persistent Svengali/Rasputin rumors:
- In his new book, David Axelrod asserts that Rahm Emanuel, when he was chief of staff, was openly uncomfortable with your relationship with the first family. In a town where access is so important, initially it probably made people a little uncomfortable. I think that has faded. I just want to do my job, and part of my job for the president is to be his friend.
- You’ve been with President Obama from the very start of his political career. Are you going to stick around 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to the bitter end? Oh, my goodness, I intend to stay until the lights go off. Why would I miss a single second of this?
- Some people believe that without Democratic control of the Senate, the White House is freer to act, more liberated from Congress. Is that true? We would far prefer to have kept the Senate in Democratic hands, but we play the hand we’re dealt. The president still has a robust agenda that involves Congress. And he is also going to work closely with partners outside of Washington.
- On immigration, the president used to claim that he did not have the legal authority to stop deportations by executive action, but last year he decided to do just that. Did the legal advice evolve? He encouraged the lawyers at the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security to give him parameters. I think the intensity of their scrutiny of this issue grew after it was clear that Congress wasn’t going to act. But the president has consistently said that the best solution is a legislative one. This was not optimal to him.
- Starting out six years ago, did you expect a different relationship with the Republicans on Capitol Hill? Yes, absolutely. In Springfield, as a very junior state senator, the president was able to work with the other side of the aisle. What became clear when we came here is that there was not a willing spirit on the other side of the table.
- Some pundits blame the president for failing to foster relationships. They say he should have invited Republicans to golf with him, bowl with him and watch movies with him at the White House. They weren’t interested in playing golf, and they weren’t interested in being schmoozed, and they weren’t interested in going up to Camp David, they weren’t interested in going to state dinners. They just wanted to say no.
- Does it ever surprise you that people describe your influence at the White House in terms similar to those once used to describe Vice President Dick Cheney’s? Oh! Please don’t say that. Stop right there. The president listens to people who have interesting things to say — that could be the most junior person on the staff or it could be a senior adviser or it could be a person who whispers something to him across a rope line.
So,“until the lights go out,”1
let’s just keep practicing our hand signals.
1 "Oh, my goodness, I intend to stay until the lights go off." Wow, that's exactly what Rasputin said. Except in Russian. - comment from Steve Speicher
And he couldn’t have done any of it without Valerie.
Cross-Posted on Patriot Action Network