Meet Valerie Jarrett, The Other Woman Behind Obama

“Behind every successful man is a woman, behind her is his wife.” — Groucho Marx

In Barack Obama’s case, the two women are friends. The other woman besides his wife, Michelle, is Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s closest aide and right-hand woman. Not only is Jarrett a good friend (and former boss) of Michelle’s but, ladies? She’s got our backs as well.

According to a profile in the New York Times, she is the one who reminds the President of his mission to do big things, and she pushes for those things to be accomplished. She gave the nudge to require that employers provide female employees with contraceptive coverage in their health insurance, despite objections from religious institutions. She backed the decision to nominate Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, as a strong message in favor of diversity, while other staff members expressed doubts. And she’s the one who came out swinging for gay rights; both the repeal of the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy for the military, and the support of gay marriage. On the latter issue, she insisted to Obama that the position was consistent with who he was.

A Chicagoan, Jarrett met Michelle Obama first, back in 1991, when she offered the future first lady a job in Mayor Richard Daley’s office. At a subsequent dinner to meet Barack, Jarrett discovered they had a mutual interest in empowering the downtrodden. From that point on, she was a supporter of his political career, as well as a close friend to both of the Obamas. When the President took her to Washington as a senior adviser, he freely admitted that he runs every decision by her.

Jarrett is the chair of The White House Council On Women And Girls. Recently she wrote, “Under the Affordable Care Act, for the first time ever, women will now have access to life-saving preventive care, such as mammograms and contraception, without paying any more out of their own pockets… By eliminating barriers like co-pays, co-insurance, and deductibles, secure, affordable coverage is quickly becoming a reality for millions of American women and families.”

She hangs tough in the face of criticism, not just for women’s rights; but for everyone’s civil rights. For women, it’s a particularly crucial time to know that the President stands behind them as a bulwark from the attacks by the far right. But it’s equally reassuring to know that a strong woman, Valerie Jarrett, is behind him, and Michelle Obama is behind her. A vote for Obama keeps all of them in the White House: three advocates and role models for the price of one!


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