03.14.10

Health Vote Coming in a Week

Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett on the coming "up or down vote" on health care, how the Rahm drama is overblown, and why she doesn't watch Glenn Beck. Plus, her email from The Daily Beast Women in the World summit urging Michelle Obama's office to invite Africa's first ladies to the White House.

Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett on the coming "up or down vote" on health care, how the Rahm drama is overblown, and why she doesn't watch Glenn Beck. Plus, her email from The Daily Beast Women in the World summit urging Michelle Obama's office to invite Africa's first ladies to the White House, and watch the top 5 moments from her interview.

Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to President Barack Obama, continued the administration's drum beat on health-care reform Sunday morning, speaking at The Daily Beast's Women in the World summit.

"The time has come," Jarrett told session moderator Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes, adding that she was "very confident" that legislation would see a vote within around a week.

Click Below to Watch Lesley Stahl's Interview with Valerie Jarrett at the Women in the World summit

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In the audience was New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, whom Jarrett praised for supporting the legislation.

"Now I think the American people deserve an up or down vote," Jarrett said.

She poured water on the idea that Obama wasn't up to the task of strong-arming Congress, when quizzed by Stahl on the mounting criticisms of the president. "If a week from now, we have health-insurance reform passed, my guess is that you will be asking the question a different way."

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Jarrett, who admitted to a daily cable television habit ("Everybody knows I watch Morning Joe every morning"), had some harsh words for one commentator in particular. "I don't watch Glenn Beck. I watched it once, but I couldn't actually finish the show. I was not entertained," she said, adding, "I do watch the normal cable during the course of the day." She said of Obama, "He chastises me regularly. He says 'Just turn it off. You're making me crazy, just stop it.'"

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When told by Indian magazine editor Shoma Chaudhury that Obama's leadership style is a womanly one, because it emphasizes cooperation and "turning down the temperature" of conflicts around the world, Jarrett said she would pass the praise along to her boss, who would appreciate it.

She also said that she emailed Michelle Obama's chief of staff from her BlackBerry during yesterday's summit, sharing the suggestion from summit speaker Leymah Gbowee of Liberia that the first lady should invite 10 first ladies from Africa to the White House to call attention to the problem of female genital mutilation. "There's a very special place in hell for women who don't support other women," Jarrett said, quoting former Secretary of State and summit speaker Madeleine Albright.

Jarrett pushed back against criticism of the president, saying he was familiar with the challenge of running from behind.

Live reports from the summit

Women in the World Video Highlights

Ruth E. Van Reken: Obama’s “Third Culture” Team
"Not that long ago, he was 30 points down in the national polls, and everybody was saying the same thing. Why isn't he fighting back? Why isn't he punching back? But he is president of the United States, so that worked out pretty well."

She also spoke about work-life balance issues for women, saying that as a young real-estate attorney and new mother in Chicago, she would sit in her posh Sears Tower office and cry, because she was so unfulfilled and bored by her job. She later went to work for Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, where she hired Michelle Robinson and met her fiancé, Barack Obama. "I won't say I knew he was going to be president," Jarrett said, "but I knew he was special."

Samuel P. Jacobs is a staff reporter at The Daily Beast. He has also written for The Boston Globe, The New York Observer, and The New Republic Online.