Valerie Jarrett, a top aide to Barack Obama, told delegates at the World Economic Forum on Thursday that the new U.S. Administration is committed to taking “aggressive and extraordinary action” to revive the U.S. economy. While Jarrett spoke about Obama’s desire to take a more coordinated global approach on issues such as climate change, her short speech disappointed a number of participants for its sweeping rhetoric and lack of specificity.
“Terribly boring,” said one European CEO, who compared her remarks to a “U.S. campaign speech”. Added another executive: “I’m trying to think of a single thing in there that I didn’t already know.” Jarrett’s rhetoric was especially unsatisfying for those who had listened to the assertive and more detail-oriented comments of Chinese premier Wen Jiabao and Russia’s Vladimir Putin a day earlier.
One issue, perhaps, is that global leaders are already acutely aware of both Obama’s message and his background. And yet Jarrett spent much of her time talking about Chicago and quoting from Obama’s Inaugural Address. We did learn that Obama met Wednesday with companies such as IBM, Xerox, Citibank and Google. But what they talked about, other than broad support for a recovery plan, was left unsaid.
Jarrett, of course, has the unenviable position of representing a man who is days into his new job. For business and political leaders who are looking to the U.S. for answers to the current crisis, though, it was a strangely flat response. It makes you wish all the more for a transcript of the animated conversation that one participant saw Putin and former president Bill Clinton have on Wednesday night.
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