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

Michelle Obama, Control Freak

Writing in the New Republic, former White House West Wing press aide Reid Cherlin goes pretty far out on a limb for a former in-guy with the Obama towel-whipping society, describing First Lady Michelle Obama as a controlling yet sometimes fickle East Wing boss who has created an unhappy work environment.

Apparently, all that spontanaiety you see from Michelle takes a lot of planning.

Michelle seriousCherlin was an aide I dealt with frequently before he left the West Wing a couple of years ago to become a freelance writer.

While he was a committed Obama staffer who never “went off the reservation” by dissing the boss or giving me something I wasn’t supposed to have, I didn’t get the sense he had drunk the Kool-Aid as fully as some of the others who worked there or that he was as willing to torture small animals, lie, or do whatever it took to make Obama and his agenda look fantastic.

Cherlin actually treated the press with some respect, which for all I know got him in hot water. He’s not like some of the other former aides from various White House operations who have cynically glided from fangs-bared propagandizing to supposedly unbiased or at least thoughtful journalism.

I realize none of this helps Reid with his ex-colleagues.

Here are some excerpts I’ve strung together from his piece:

The first lady’s office can be a confining, frustrating, even miserable place to work. Jealousy and discontentment have festered, as courtiers squabble over the allocation of responsibility and access to Mrs. Obama, both of which can be aggravatingly scarce. Fueling these sentiments, according to former East Wing insiders, is the exacting but often ambivalent leadership style of the first lady herself.

Unlike her husband, who derives visible satisfaction from his ability to improvise, Mrs. Obama depends on structure to support her public warmth—the ease with which she’ll pick up a hula-hoop, say, or do the Dougie with school kids.

The imperative to guarantee results could be paralyzing. “That was the pressure on us,” one ex-aide told me. “‘Don’t do it if it’s not going to be perfect.’” Staff knew that every event should produce positive coverage, and that all the angles had to be exhaustively researched and gamed out (not easy with a team of less than 30).

But it was never completely clear what the standard of perfection should be. “There’s no barometer: The first lady having the wrong pencil skirt on Monday is just as big of a fuck-up as someone speaking on the record when they didn’t mean to or a policy initiative that completely failed,” says another former aide. “It just made you super anxious.”

Former staffers describe a high-stress, high-stakes workplace, in which Mrs. Obama scrutinized the smallest facets of her schedule. Aides in both wings of the White House say she insists on planning every move months in advance and finalizing speeches weeks ahead of time—a rigidity nearly unheard of in today’s chaotic political environment.

“For her, trust is huge, really feeling like people were protecting and thinking about her,” says one alum. “And then, also, she’s a lawyer. She’s really disciplined. She cares about the details. She’s never going to wing it.”

All of this led to a culture of harsh internal judgment. Invitations to meetings with the first lady, in her office above the Jackie Kennedy Garden, became a vital status symbol, a way for staffers to measure their worth. “Every meeting was like an identity crisis, whether you got invited or not,” one former East Winger told me . . .

Whoever the chief of staff has been, Cherlin makes clear that the real power behind the throne is Valerie Jarrett, who gives the orders. Also very powerful is Sam Kass, who seems to have risen from Obama chef and gardener to all-round advisor and general-purpose guru.

They’ve become personal friends even intimates of the first lady, which Cherlin makes suggests, is what it takes to really succeed in the East Wing.

Talk about an unfair work environment.

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61 Responses to Michelle Obama, Control Freak

  1. It shows in her accomplishments, which are safe and unnecessary in today’s world, by surrounding herself with incompetent YES men and women and Valerie Jarrett who’s quietly taking over the world.

    I think the author was being way too kind to her. Her sparkly party and vacations perks are all part of her “what’s in it for ME” if I play loving and supportive wife.

  2. She needs to take up needle point, and stay away from everyone.
    She also needs to give all the tax payers our money back from these trips.
    I promise you if these trips were out of her pocket, I could care less where she went.
    There are millions of people who travel more than I will have dream of.
    That is OK.

  3. The reality of things with both of the Obama’s is this is really their first job. While she is described in the article “Like Hillary Clinton before her, she was an accomplished lawyer with policy smarts”. Really?? What were her accomplishments in the legal profession? If they were both accomplished why give up their law license that they worked so hard to achieve? Her actions and mannerisms describes someone who is unsure of themselves and trusts no one. An accomplished attorney is capable on their feet and are team leaders in building and accomplish their cases or projects. It will be interesting of all the books that will come out after they leave describing the real Obama’s.

    Disturbing that a chef and vacuous cipher has such influence without vetting.

    • …I have to fill out a 15+ page “Back Ground Check/Security Clearance” to even apply for some entry-level US Govt. job (cleaning toilets at the Pentagon, and I Am a US Vet)

      YET! a nobody like “Barack Hussein Obama” is allowed to be an Illionis politician, then US Senator, then ‘US President’… (with NO “Back Ground Check/Security Clearance)

      • There’s no way Barry could pass a security clearance examination. Not with his background, past and present associates, admitted use of cocaine, mysterious travels to Pakistan when he was a college student, etc. Impossible. Yet he has access to the most sensitive information in the country. My question has always been: “Who does he really work for? Who calls him up and tells him what to do, what to say?” Someday, we’ll know.

    • Accomplished lawyer? You mean a lawyer who gave up her license to practice law in order to avoid being prosecuted for insurance fraud? Yep, that’s accomplished alright.

  4. Clever writing; he strokes with the right hand, smacks with the left.
    For all the harm she’s done with her FatKidsBehinds program and the useless iniative with military families, she hasn’t caused any scandals. Yet. We’re waiting for the tell-all books that are sure to come.

    IMO, she arrived at the WhiteHouse with a chip on her shoulder, a firm belief that she’s been a victim of racism her whole life, and a naive understanding of just what is expected of any First Lady. Unlike former modern FirstLadys, she had no experience in politics outside of the closed ranks of Chicago. She didn’t want to move into the WH, wanted her mother with her for protection, and felt she had to “represent” someone she isn’t and never was.

    The MSM, invested wholly in everything Obama, tried their darnest to make her something special with the “best-dressed” farce, the insulting “toned-arms’ and worst of all the “Black Jackie-O”. How she must have hated every photo-shopped cover, every reference to her that she knew wasn’t true.
    She, just like her husband, is out of her depth. She doesn’t know what to do, and doesn’t really want to do anything. She issues orders to her staff, demands this or that, then disappears and returns only to find fault. No wonder her staff is unhappy, who wouldn’t be.

  5. Too bad her husband doesn’t have some of that discipline. Instead, he flies by the seat of his pants. How did Val Jar become so powerful?

    OT: Obama doesn’t travel light.

    Barack Obama’s first visit to Brussels to cost Belgium more than €10m
    Obama will arrive with 900-strong entourage, including 45 vehicles and three planes, and attend EU and Nato summits

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/24/barack-obama-visit-brussels-cost-belgium-10m

    • Oh for heaven’s sakes, we had Jim Crow laws, we had a period when people could own slaves, many blacks were wrongly dragged over here–but does this EVER trail off, is there never any recognition of improvement or turnaround? And she lets loose with all this in another country–just disgraceful. How about talking about a country in which a young black woman can become a Harvard lawyer, however briefly, and then First Lady and travel the world? Do the Chinese travel around and talk about all the millions Mao killed? That sort of thing?

    • Just noticed something after re-reading MOO’s ‘victim’ speech.

      …..”But like me, this guy got scholarships and loans to attend universities. He became a lawyer and a professor, and then he was a state senator and then a
      national senator. And then, he became President of the United States.
      This guy I’m talking about is my husband, Barack Obama”.

      ####################

      1.) Obama was NOT a ‘professor’ he was an adjunct lecturer
      2.) She refers to him as a ‘national’ senator. Huh? Is that the same as U.S. Senator?

      Is MO as dumb as she appears? Geez.

    • It sounded like a speech someone in high school would give, and “this guy”? She’s doing her best to show the Chinese how dumbed down we have become.

      • I mentioned on another thread about the people who write the speeches O are not the best. As well O must not read anything before he speaks.
        Well the same people may be “jotting” down her speeches as well.

    • I wonder how these spendthrifts are going to feel on ‘the morning after’ (Jan. 21, 2016) when they wake up in Chicago (or wherever) and discover that AF1 and The Beast are not parked in the driveway. Michelle will be looking for her ‘glass slipper’ but will have to settle for an old pair of muckluks.

  6. I am completely over all these “we were poor black people in an America of affluent, stingy, greedy white people” sob stories.
    I am white. My parents were poor. They did not have money for higher education. I worked 3 part time jobs during high school to buy my clothes and save for my education. I am one among many, many other white people who had exactly the same circumstances.
    The difference between our stories and hers? We are sincerely grateful to God that we lived in a country where everything was possible. Our “beginnings did not have to determine our ends.” (Joyce Meyer). We understood that if we “worked hard, treated people right and trusted God to take care of the details” (my mother in law) our dreams would eventually become reality. And so – with as much respect as I can muster, I say, “Shut up, Michelle.”