As of now, I am in control here, in the White House

Michelle’s Role Goes Way Beyond Nutrition

Michelle Obama is a major force within the White House who appears to have successfully advocated for critical changes in staff and policy within the West Wing, according to a book that will be released Tuesday.

“The Obamas” by New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor relies on extensive interviews with current and former White House advisers – though not the Obamas themselves – and appears to have within its pages a rich amount of insider detail about power struggles in the West Wing.

The book helps explain to me one of the likely causes of something I never fully understood – the departure from the White House of Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. And it makes clear that even if the chance to become mayor of Chicago never came up, Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel was on the way out the door, which was kindly being held for him by the first lady.

Michelle, according to the book, was a key enforcer of liberal orthodoxy, reminding the more politically minded staff of the principles underlying Barack Obama.

For months, it had been rumored that Gibbs, a longtime and trusted aide to President Obama, would ascend to a higher position within the White House. It’s clear from the book that his rocky relationship with the first lady and blistering butting of heads with senior West Wing adviser Valerie Jarrett made this impossible.

From a New York Times preview piece on the book:

Early on Sept. 16, Robert Gibbs was scanning the news when a story stopped him short: according to a new French book, Michelle Obama had told Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, the French first lady, that living in the White House was “hell.” It was a potential disaster — the equivalent of the $400 haircut, Mr. Gibbs feared, coming just weeks before election day and on the heels of a vacation in Spain that had drawn accusations of lavish spending.

Mr. Gibbs asked her aides to find out if she had said anything even close (no, the answer came back), and then fought the story back for hours, having the book translated and convincing the Élysée Palace to issue a denial. By noon the potential crisis had been averted.

But at Mr. Emanuel’s 7:30 a.m. staff meeting the next day, Ms. Jarrett announced that the first lady had concerns about the White House’s response to the book, according to several people present. All eyes turned to Mr. Gibbs, who started to steam.

“Don’t go there, Robert, don’t do it,” Mr. Emanuel warned.

“That’s not right, I’ve been killing myself on this, where’s this coming from?” Mr. Gibbs yelled, adding expletives. He interrogated Ms. Jarrett, whose calm only seemed to frustrate him more. The two went back and forth, Ms. Jarrett unruffled, Mr. Gibbs shaking with rage. Finally, several staff members said, Mr. Gibbs cursed the first lady — colleagues stared down at the table, shocked — and stormed out.

Mr. Gibbs later acknowledged the outburst but said he had misdirected his rage and accused Ms. Jarrett of making up the complaint. After the book incident, he “stopped taking her at all seriously as an adviser to the president,” Mr. Gibbs said, adding, “Her viewpoint in advising the president is that she has to be up and the rest of the White House has to be down.”

Ms. Jarrett declined to discuss the incident; two East Wing aides said she had misspoken, and that Mrs. Obama had not made any criticism.

Looks like ValJar got the reaction she wanted out of Gibbs.

Gibbs was also the chief advocate for scaling back the first lady’s lavish lifestyle, a role that must have rankled her deeply and that appears to have little impact given her  . . . lavish lifestyle.

But her husband’s advisers — in particular, Mr. Gibbs — were worried that the White House might appear oblivious to public anger about joblessness, banker bailouts and bonuses. The result was constant, anxious give-and-take between the East and West Wings about vacations, décor, entertainment, even matters as small as whether to announce the hiring of a new florist.

“We all have watched what happens when people get caricatured,” Mr. Gibbs said in an interview, explaining why he policed such personal matters. With a mistake like John Edwards’s $400 haircut in 2007, “there’s no way to correct that.” Other aides said there was a reason Mr. Gibbs became the main enforcer of the rules of political life: because Mr. Obama, all too aware that his wife never wanted that life, would not.

Michelle was perhaps the most crucial voice countering Rahm’s position that the White House should back away from trying to pass the entire health reform law negotiate a smaller bill following the victory of Republican Scott Brown in the Massachusetts Senate race.

From an article by Huffington Post White House reporter Sam Stein, who seems to have purloined an early copy of the book.

When the whole enterprise seemed to have fallen apart, following the election of Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, a Republican, the first lady was furious. Instead of letting her husband down easy, which top staff hoped she would do, she lit into him.

“She feels as if our rudder isn’t set right,” the president told his aides. “They had the sense that was not the actual language she had used.”

Kantor writes, “To her, the Scott Brown victory provided grim evidence for what she had been saying for months, in some cases years: [her husband] had been leaning on the same tight group of insular, disorganized advisers for too long; they were not careful planners who looked out for worst-case scenarios.”

Emanuel, naturally, had a different read. And according to “The Obamas,” he was indignant about how the first lady handled the Brown victory. “Emanuel hated it when people criticized the administration from lofty perches,” writes Kantor. “More fundamentally, the chief of staff was trying to convince the president to scale back his health care efforts, but the first lady wanted him to push forward. Emanuel wanted to win by the standard measures of presidential success: legislative victories, poll numbers. Michelle Obama had more persona criteria: Was her husband fulfilling their mission?”

In the end, Michelle Obama would win that fight. After several days of reflection, the president would push again for Congress to pass the full health care reform bill. And while he ultimately would succeed, the battles took their tolls.

“Barack Obama had made a choice in the contest of the worldviews that surrounded him, between his chief of staff’s point of view and his wife’s,” Kantor writes. “His decision to pursue the health care overhaul later seemed to mark the beginning of the end of Emanuel’s tenure in the White House.”

And Rahm, it seems, is just as much a foul-mouthed bully as his reputation suggests. From the book, by way of Politico: a furious Rahm tries to find out who leaked a memo:

“Just because someone wants to put their dick on the table, we have to deal with this!” he yelled, eyeing (Political Director Patrick) Gaspard, who he clearly thought was the culprit. Gibbs, who had approved the leak, said nothing. Emanuel was still screaming at his morning meeting the next day . . .

In his slight Haitian accent, Gaspard talked back. “Respectfully, we’re not the DCCC, there’s but so much we can do,” he said. “We don’t want to own this.” Rahm became volcanic again, screaming about the memo. Gaspard said he had written the memo but not leaked it; Emanuel told him he didn’t believe him, and launched into another round of swearing. Again, Gibbs did not acknowledge his role.

121 Responses to Michelle’s Role Goes Way Beyond Nutrition

  1. When I was first trying to figure out who the heck Obama was and why he got that 2004 speech and who was behind him, I read that the advisers were trying to downplay HER–bec she was “too sarcastic.” Fast forward…now we are being “ruled” by a free spending lawyer with no license anymore and whose experience was a make-work high paying job turfing uninsured patients out of a hospital. Neato torpedo. Oh–and she pretends to garden.

    • “….and she pretends to garden.”

      AHAHAHA!! That one always cracks me up. Any real gardener looks at her “gardening pictures” and laughs all day.

        • Back stabbing staff, former friends and lackeys have contributed to a book that energizes hatreds in the right and those who simply do not like the Obamas. Revealing the inner workings of the White House social scene may garner book sales but it begs the question does Obama really have any friends, or are those empowered by him just waiting to cash in. Society has fallen to the point where parents cash in on their children, wives/girlfiends write tell all books about their former flames and Presidents’ privacy is given up for the almighty buck. Conservatism will eventually infect the entire nation, but at what price. Mark Davis President of Healthnets Review Services

          • It’s telling that obama’s sycophants are repeatedly ‘forced’ to defend every misguided remark and embarrassing gaffe, explain every untoward remark and label every criticism of this statist couple as ‘hate’ or bigotry. Newsflash, Dr. Davis- some of us really do have concerns with the damage they are doing to this country with their statist policies and it has NOTHING to do with the color of their skin or how we feel about them as human beings. Their imperious attitude and professorial tone do little to endear them to we grown-ups who don’t care to be lectured to like children by our public servants. They are not royalty, they are our employees.

            • Point well taken. My belief is there exists a profound traumatic fault line that runs through the Obama’s innate to their personalities. Their combined hatreds surface in the way they manage the White House, which is completely unbecoming for a sitting president. This behavior is more than imperious, it has the mark of schizophrenia. They state one thing and do something completely the opposite. This is exemplified in Mrs.Obama’s crusade to reduce obesity in America, yet she eats unhealthy. Or Mr. Obama’s class warfare rhetoric, yet he gravitates to the rich, celeb or notorious in society. Perhaps those running for these high offices should have psychological profiles performed before they are eligible to move forward. Mark Davis, author of Demons of Democracy.

    • I was wondering if someone else found this little gem. The Christmas Law firm office party story told about the future Mrs. O is quite on the mark. Thank you fellow reader!

  2. They took her off the campaign trail in 2008.
    No wonder the man’s hair turned gray.
    No wonder why they travel separately.
    Hilliary Clinton was also accused of having a nasty attitude.

  3. I don’t typically read biographies of people I don’t like..I’ll make an exception here. There will be more tell all books and I can’t wait to read the play by play after the fact. I’m sure they will provide the confirmation we’ve always know about this dysfunctional “couple.”

  4. Has Moochelle ever been successful in a real job? I recall she was given a no-show 300k/yr job as a political favor. Anything else? Hillary wasn’t much better. Her career took off after Bill used his connections as governor to get her a job at a law firm. She never did any real work in court. Mostly writings and politically related advocacy. Bill was elected President then of course opens the door for Hillary to later become a politician on the national stage.

  5. I said all along Obama doesn’t go to the men’s room without permission from
    that dreadful excuse for a FLOTUS. She’s a woman who would throw her own
    husband under the bus to get what she wants and notice she always gets
    what she wants. He scared to death of her and it shows.

  6. I remember reading her thesis shortly after the people were given access to it and thought not only is she a racist but an eighth-grader could have written a better one.

  7. From all accounts, the woman is a harridan! She was pulled off the campaign trail because of her abrasive personality. Her staff turnover is unprecedented. Her offensive campaign speeches have been scrubbed from the net. Many pre-election photos have been deleted by photobucket. The woman is a holy terror!!!

    Obama is a jellyfish! If he can’t control his loud-mouthed wife….how can he run this country??? Interestingly, Obama appears to have given the MOOCH much more visibility and power of late – – he rarely leaves home without her! After her extensive cosmetic overhaul, he now refers to her as ‘cute – a sure sign that he has lost his mind! Sounds like they are getting ready for the next chapter – the first woman President – and a black one to boot! Move over, Hillary!

  8. When The One and The Wife were on one of their extended foreign tours, Obama signed his name in some book — large signature, flourishes everywhere, in the center of the page.

    MoochMORE rammed her signature’s start down into the gutter of the book so that she could place it in front of Buh-rock’s and on the same line.

    I thought at the same time that it was an example of her anger over not being the center of power and attention — she was ONLY FLOTUS to his POTUS.

    It looks as if she really has been POTUS all along. This is why we have had the disgusting parade of her appearances everywhere — she craves the attention that she feels she deserves. She is the real President, or at least the one making decisions, so she’ll fly where she wants to when she wants to and the little people can pay the bills.

  9. Michelle Obama has two talents. First she feeds off the public dole at a rate faster than any first lady in history. Second she flaunts wealth with a style that would be beneath Marie Antoinette. Those of you who are embarrassed by her actions, you should be. MD

    • That is hilarious and a very good photoshop of the original. I remember when the sycophant press couldn’t write an article about her without bringing up her well-toned arms, and she must have more sleeveless clothing in her closet than Imelda Marcos had shoes. The race card has expired on these grifters.

      • I think the Vera story was debunked as merely a “flirty” situation and Michelle would have nonoe of that. NONE OF THAT !

        What’s mysterious, Baker was a top fundraiser for the DNC, especially for minority candidates, then WHOOSH, she moves to the Carribean “to start a new life”. I was a Dem long enough to know, the DNC would never let her go.

    • You know those people you bring into a crime scene to clean up the dead bodies and blood on the walls? We’re gonna new a whole crew of em.

  10. So one way or another, the o’s Triumvirate is gone from Pennsylvania Avenue: Gibbs, Rahm, Axelrod.
    So we have TWO shadow Presidents: Jarret and MOOch?

    • To go along with our shadow government made up of a multitude of czars who are unelected and mostly unconfirmed by the Senate. When was the last time he met with his cabinet?

  11. Steaming here, absolutely steaming! Their little ‘salons’ have pissed the crap out of me, too. The fact we hear nothing about their entertaining makes my blood boil. I hope more and more of the tabloids will put this stuff out there, we need the whole last three years to be shoved into everyone’s face about what these two have been doing at a time of economic crisis.

  12. This is merely a propaganda piece telegraphing to the socialist how Obama plans to govern in a second administration. Michelle is an undisciplined warrior for the left because she is has been seduced by the trappings of wealth and privilege. Obama is in charge and she is a constant irritant to him.

  13. We have a new Czar to party with Bon Jovi he’s appointed to the new
    Council for Community Solutions. Yes we can ‘work’ with him and party too!

  14. And I have to say, the posts on this site are insightful, witty, well thought out, polite, etc. I think I found a new “home”. Thank you posters and a Happy New Year to all!

  15. Boy this really has the ladies who worship Mrs O’s flip flops are in snit, tizzy
    and their panties are in a bunch some may do the lemming end right off the cliff. Makes for a giggle to read as does most everything they say about the
    most perfectly wonderful beautiful FLOTUS we have ever had ever!:-)

  16. This is outrageous! BO and MO have no concern for anyone but themselves. Are they still having their weekly Tuesday night soirees? I haven’t heard about any for a long while now.

    • This revelation just goes to show how the press is covering for these grifters. Wouldn’t doubt it if they are still having their weekly parties with Wagyu beef and top shelf adult beverages. Most of the dutiful sycophant press won’t breathe a word about their extravagances until they can write a tell-all book years after the fact. Jodi Kantor is just another self-serving hack who cares more about making a buck than she does about the economic failure of her country.

  17. I am starting to have a very creepy feeling all this about the book. The
    WH response tepid and nothing big from the MSM that carry Obama on everything. Beginning to,think they might be behind this whole thing to get
    the base all worked up and it will probably work. If you think about it what did
    we find out shocking and new? Nothing.