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New book: Michelle clashed with Rahm

First Lady United States Michelle Obamright Mayor Rahm Emanuel listen workers' explanations soil Growing Power's IrStreet Farm 3333 S. IrSt.

First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama, right, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel listen to workers' explanations of soil at Growing Power's Iron Street Farm, 3333 S. Iron St., during a visit Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2011, in Chicago. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times

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Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel clashed with First Lady Michelle Obama and offered to resign as White House chief of staff in February 2010, after a series of self-serving stories, according to a new book, The Obamas.

The Huffington Post reported on the book, written by Jodi Kantor of the New York Times. It’s due out on Tuesday.

Kantor, according to the online story, reports that “Michelle Obama had ‘doubts’ about the choice of Emanuel as chief of staff. Emanuel, in turn, had been opposed to bringing Valerie Jarrett, the Obamas’ longtime mentor, into the White House as a senior adviser.”

Emanuel’s reservations about Jarrett had been previously known.

According to the report: “The administration did not outfit her with a speechwriter for some time. And the first lady’s office grew so isolated from the rest of the presidential orbit that aides there began, as Kantor writes, referring to the East Wing as ‘Guam’ — pleasant but powerless.”

The website, citing Kantor’s book, also reported: “Michelle and Rahm Emanuel had almost no bond; their relationship was distant and awkward from the beginning. She had been skeptical of him when he was selected, and now he returned the favor; he was uneasy about first ladies in general, several aides close to him said, based on clashes with Hillary Clinton in the 1990s that became so severe that she had tried to fire him from her husband’s administration.”

The website also reported from the book that then-White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was often deployed to push back against the first lady, informing her that she couldn’t take a private vacation on a state visit, spend large amounts on White House redecoration, or buy expensive clothes.

Kantor also reported that Michelle Obama, who came to politics skeptically but saw her husband as someone capable of lofty achievements, lashed out against her isolation.

She sent e-mails to Jarrett when she had complaints about news coverage, which Jarrett would forward to others after removing the first lady’s name from them. When she couldn’t wedge herself into her husband’s schedule, she would send her missives to Alyssa Mastromonaco, the president’s director of scheduling. The e-mails, Kantor writes, “were so stern that Mastromonaco showed them around to colleagues, unsure of how to respond to her boss’s wife’s displeasure.”



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