On a trip to Washington in the early fall of 2010,
Powell had met with some of her friends at the White House who told her that President Obama was going to Silicon Valley that October.
She suggested that he might want to meet with her husband. Obama's aides liked the idea; it fit into hisnew emphasis on competitiveness.
In addition, John Doerr, the venture capitalist who had become one of Jobs's close friends,
had told a meeting of the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board about Jobs's views on why the United States was losing its edge.
He too suggested that Obama should meet with Jobs.
So a half hour was put on the president's schedule for a session at the Westin San Francisco Airport.
There was one problem: When Powell told her husband, he said he didn't want to do it.
He was annoyed that she had arranged it behind his back.
"I'm not going to get slotted in for a token meeting so that he can check off that he met with a CEO," he told her.
She insisted that Obama was "really psyched to meet with you."
Jobs replied that if that were the case, then Obama should call and personally ask for the meeting.
The standoff went on for five days. She called in Reed, who was at Stanford, to come home for dinner and try to persuade his father.
Jobs finally relented. The meeting actually lasted forty-five minutes, and Jobs did not hold back.
"You're headed for a one-term presidency," Jobs told Obama at the outset.
To prevent that, he said, the administration needed to be a lot more business-friendly.
He described how easy it was to build a factory in China,
and said that it was almost impossible to do so these days in America, largely because of regulations and unnecessary costs.
Jobs also attacked America's education system, saying that it was hopelessly antiquated and crippled by union work rules.
Until the teachers' unions were broken, there was almost no hope for education reform.
Teachers should be treated as professionals, he said, not as industrial assembly-line workers.
Principals should be able to hire and fire them based on how good they were.
Schools should be staying open until at least 6 p.m. and be in session eleven months of the year.
It was absurd, he added, that American classrooms were still based on teachers standing at a board and using textbooks.
All books, learning materials, and assessments should be digital and interactive, tailored to each student and providing feedback in real time.
Jobs offered to put together a group of six or seven CEOs who could really explain the innovation challenges facing America, and the president accepted.
So Jobs made a list of people for a Washington meeting to be held in December.
Unfortunately, after Valerie Jarrett and other presidential aides had added names, the list had expanded to more than twenty, with GE's Jeffrey Immelt in the lead.
Jobs sent Jarrett an email saying it was a bloated list and he had no intention of coming.
In fact his health problems had flared anew by then, so he would not have been able to go in any case, as Doerr privately explained to the president.