Sunday, 12 September 2010

If Emanuel Is Out, Who's Next Chief of Staff?

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Rahm EmanuelThe fire-breathing — as his reputation would have it — Chief of Staff of the Obama Administration has seemed to keep a low profile of late. Indications are that Rahm Emanuel may be opting to resign his post in the near future. The office of Chief of Staff to the President of the United States is said to be the toughest one in Washington. It is a Cabinet-level position responsible for overseeing the White House staff, managing the President’s schedule and supervising who meets with him — a position dubbed the Gatekeeper to the Oval Office. Even among Presidents who have served two terms, the longest a Chief of Staff has lasted is six years.

At this point in time, it is being bandied about that Rahm Emanuel has actually been in the way of the even more progressive parts of the Obama agenda than what has taken place since January 2009. Activist members of the President’s team have expressed disappointment with what they consider the Chief of Staff’s compromising ways, saying he is the reason Obama has not delivered as effectively on all his campaign promises of “hope and change." Regarding Emanuel’s Chief of Staff appointment, said:

This is Emanuel’s return trip to the White House. In between, the man known as “Rahmbo” amassed a reputation as a shrewd party operative, millionaire investment banker and congressional leader.

A skilled campaigner and fundraiser, Emanuel was one of the architects behind the Democrats’ 2006 House takeover. After being elected to represent Illinois’s 5th district in 2002, he quickly became a top player on Capitol Hill, joining the House Ways and Means Committee in his second term and rising to chair the House Democratic Caucus in his third.

But his first year in the White House was rocky. Faced with an ambitious agenda and a struggling economy, Emanuel was criticized by progressives for compromising too many of their principles on things like health-care reform, and some liberals even called for his ouster.

For his part, Rahm Emanuel always indicated he would probably serve about 18 months. With Mayor Richard M. Daley of Chicago announcing that he is not running for re-election, it is thought that Emanuel, a Chicagoan, will seek that post which he is known to have coveted. Which leaves the question: Who will replace him as Chief of Staff?

An article in The Hill, the congressional newspaper published daily when Congress is in session, is rife with conjecture. Among their replacement possibilities are:

Ron Klain — Chief of Staff for Vice President Joe Biden and a frequent suggestion from many sources

Leon Panetta, Erskine Bowles and Tony Podesta — all former high-ranking aides to ex-President Bill Clinton

Tom Donilon — Deputy national security adviser to President Obama

Tom Daschle — former Senate Majority Leader and an original candidate for the Chief of Staff position that ultimately went to Emanuel

Pete Rouse — Senior White House advisor who has worked for the then newly-elected Senator Obama, and for Senator Tom Daschle as well

Also mentioned by The Hill are Valarie Jarrett, Ron Kirk and Senator Mark Warner.

The website has further speculation, including that President Obama could think outside the Democratic box:

The president could pick a moderate Republican to show he's all about getting things done. Among the prospects — some more plausible than others — are Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood; former Congressman Tom Davis, now head of the dwindling Republican Main Street Partnership; BP lobbyist and former Ronald Reagan chief of staff Ken Duberstein; former Sen. John Danforth; and even former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Which brings to mind the famous quote of George Wallace, that "There's not a dime's worth of difference between the two parties" — true, here, if a Democratic President feels he can move a radical agenda forward by using a Republican Chief of Staff.

U.S. citizens must continue vigilant, and more so if what the country has experienced since Barack Obama took office is not the worst this administration intends to impose. Obama's next Chief of Staff will be very indicative of his future intentions. Mindful of both past and future, voting Americans will remember in November and covet for themselves constitutionalist candidates.

Photo of Rahm Emanuel: AP Images

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