Magazine article Newsweek

David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett

Magazine article Newsweek

David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett

Article excerpt

The most loyal Friends of Barack will carry new weight in the White House.

Harry Truman quipped that true friendship in Washington comes in canine form. But for President-elect Obama, a couple of trusted friends have something almost as precious as a dog basket in the executive mansion--a West Wing office and the rare title of senior adviser. In the Clinton White House, the FOBs were schmoozers who spent their free time at Renaissance Weekend getaways and ended up as ambassadors. In the closed circle of the Bush White House, there was just one trusted counselor at a time, doling out communications advice to the decider. Now the new FOBs--friends of Barack, not Bill or Bush--will enjoy not just proximity to power but extensive influence in their own right.

Axelrod and Jarrett will represent a formidable new layer at the upper echelon of the White House, each with their own fiefdom and the chance to weigh in on any issue. In fact, some transition officials are privately expressing concern at how the pair will interact with their immediate superior, chief of staff Rahm Emanuel. In theory, both report to Emanuel; in practice, they have a stronger relationship to the new president than anyone else inside the West Wing. How all three senior officials work together may well determine how well the White House functions in the first year of Obama's presidency.

As the campaign's chief strategist, Axelrod was at Obama's side at every critical moment of the protracted election, giving Axelrod broad influence over political positioning, TV advertising and the day-to-day message. …

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