The Rahm Roulette wheel begins spinning

posted at 12:15 pm on September 8, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

With Mayor Richard Daley retiring, many assume that Rahm Emanuel will leave his White House chief of staff position to run in next year’s election.  Emanuel, known more as a tough pragmatist and infighter, nevertheless helped run Barack Obama’s administration into the shoals of ObamaCare and a failed, radical economic agenda.  If Emanuel does leave, Obama’s selection for his replacement will send strong signals about the direction he will take in the second half of the term — and already some signals have come out of the White House, according to Politico, about getting a more establishment figure in Rahm’s place:

Amid mounting signs that Rahm Emanuel will leave the White House to run for mayor in Chicago, Democratic insiders say President Barack Obama is likely to choose a new chief of staff who’s already in his orbit but has experience with previous administrations.

The goal: to maintain the president’s comfort level while bringing in an outside perspective that would help mitigate the insularity of the current West Wing.

The most likely candidate may be Tom Donilon, a deputy national security adviser whose political experience goes back to the Carter-Mondale campaign. Donilon earned his chops in government as the first assistant secretary of state for public affairs under President Bill Clinton. His wife, Cathy Russell, is chief of staff to Dr. Jill Biden.

Another possible prospect is Ron Klain, chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden, who has served in a string of sensitive positions, including chief of staff to Vice President Al Gore during the 1996 reelection campaign.

After the midterm bloodbath that most presume will come in eight weeks, changes in staff were inevitable anyway.  Emanuel might have had the best chance of sticking around, but clearly he sees a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in Chicago as well as an opportunity to get out of Washington while the getting is good.  He may not be the only one looking for greener pastures once Republicans start to control the agenda on Capitol Hill, either, especially among those who came out of Chicago and have little experience with, or stomach for, dealing with political opposition.

That would seem to include Valerie Jarrett, who gets a long-shot mention by Mike Allen and Josh Gerstein in this piece.  Jarrett came out of the Chicago Machine to Obama’s White House as one of his closest advisers, part of the same inner circle as David Axelrod.  However, picking an outsider like Jarrett would hardly signal a new era of cooperation with Congress regardless of which party controls it.  It would be a shot across the bow of Capitol Hill and a big signal that Obama would double down on his radical agenda in the next two years — in short, become the antithesis of the 1995-6 Bill Clinton.  Democrats looking at a tsunami in 2010 know this would mean a repeat in 2012, and could generate a serious presidential primary challenge from someone like Evan Bayh as a means of rescuing the Democratic Party from the grip of the Left.

Politico mentions Clinton-era CoS retreads like Leon Panetta, Erskine Bowles, and John Podesta, none of which seem suited for the task of a Hopeandchange presidency.  Panetta has a job for which he has fought tooth and nail at CIA and isn’t likely to want a switch back to running a presidential datebook, while Bowles has to chair Obama’s debt commission for the next few months and then defend it afterward.  Podesta moved to the Left after leaving the White House and would send a similar signal as appointing Jarrett.

The best political choice might be one of the people included in the list as an afterthought: Ed Rendell.  He has plenty of political infighting experience and is well-respected within the party.  Rendell has a much more pragmatic approach than Jarrett or Axelrod, and a better political ear than anyone currently in the White House, including Emanuel.  Pennsylvanians don’t much care for him as Governor at the moment, but he could help Obama reconnect in a state that Obama cannot afford to lose in 2012 if he wants to win re-election.  Rendell is also good with the media and can give the impression that Obama is softening his agenda in response to a big midterm loss.  And Rendell is available almost immediately, too.


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Catch 22? Who advises him on his pick of advisers?

Vince on September 8, 2010 at 12:20 PM

RAHM bails rather than being thrown out .
Axlerod goes back to ” co ordinate” for the 2012 run
Plouffe stays to run the 2012 campaign.
Hillary declares she has achieved ” progress in the Middle East ” OR ” The inexperience of this administration is hampering my ability to bring Peace to the Middle East , and resigns to begin her 2012 campaign for POTUS

Democorrupts still in office SUDDENLY become deficit hawks

Obama began his campaign 2 years prior to the election and surely this time around all players will start to ramp after the midterms

ELMO Q on September 8, 2010 at 12:23 PM

you spin me right right baby right round, like a rahm record baby.

This is going to be an interesting election.

upinak on September 8, 2010 at 12:24 PM

The most likely candidate may be Tom Donilon, a deputy national security adviser whose political experience goes back to the Carter-Mondale campaign.

Because that was such a successful campaign.

rbj on September 8, 2010 at 12:24 PM

Obama began continues his campaign 2 years prior to the election and surely this time around all players will start to ramp after the midterms

ELMO Q on September 8, 2010 at 12:23 PM

FIFY. It’s not like he’s quit campaigning since he was elected.

darury on September 8, 2010 at 12:28 PM

Don’t worry rest assured that some Chicago thug, socialist loving ideologue will be taking their place.

roux on September 8, 2010 at 12:30 PM

Heck, why not Bob Beckel.

He ran Mondale’s historic loss to Reagan in ’84, so he is due a promotion.

Brian1972 on September 8, 2010 at 12:30 PM

I hate it when it does that.

kingsjester on September 8, 2010 at 12:30 PM

I hope he goes with Jarrett, she’s got about as much sense as a horse turd and isn’t smart enough to just lurk in the background like Rahm.

It would be comedy gold.

BigWyo on September 8, 2010 at 12:33 PM

However, picking an outsider like Jarrett would hardly signal a new era of cooperation with Congress regardless of which party controls it. It would be a shot across the bow of Capitol Hill and a big signal that Obama would double down on his radical agenda in the next two years — in short, become the antithesis of the 1995-6 Bill Clinton.

And that’s exactly why he’ll pick Jarrett or someone like her.

What has he ever said that would lead anyone to believe that he wants to change his radical agenda or even acknowledges in any way that he thinks there’s any problem with it?

But that’s just my opinion.

SlaveDog on September 8, 2010 at 12:35 PM

Ladies and Gentlemen, The President of the United States

Good afternoon.

I am here today to announce my choice as the new White House Chief of Staff, since my uuuhh, good friend Rahm Emmanuel has uuhhh, decided to go back home and uuh, get our hometown on the right track as uuhh, Mayor. Good luck, buddy.

Let me introduce, uuhhh, without any further doo doo, uuhhh, I mean ado, the new man around here, uuhhh, uuhh, Markos Moulitsas.

Brian1972 on September 8, 2010 at 12:35 PM

I said yesterday that the Valerie Jarrett COS story at Politico was a trial balloon to see the reaction. Obviously it didn’t go the way they’d hoped.

Monica on September 8, 2010 at 12:36 PM

Brian1972 on September 8, 2010 at 12:35 PM

Yikes. Almost as much fun as BFF Valerie would be.

kingsjester on September 8, 2010 at 12:37 PM

It is easier to run over those who leave the bus voluntarily than to throw them under it.

Problems will be blamed on those who leave.

Yet the problems will continue.

ajacksonian on September 8, 2010 at 12:37 PM

this is the double down president we are talking about here…i can valerie jarrett at the top of the short list…

cmsinaz on September 8, 2010 at 12:38 PM

SlaveDog on September 8, 2010 at 12:35 PM

agree

cmsinaz on September 8, 2010 at 12:38 PM

Let the night of the long knives begin.

Although knowing the Democrats, they’ll bring a rubber knife to a squirt gun fight.

NoDonkey on September 8, 2010 at 12:41 PM

So far O hasn’t picked anyone with their ear to the general public. I suppose he’ll continue down the same road. Good–as it will produce the same result.

jeanie on September 8, 2010 at 12:41 PM

I was under the impression that Rahm Emmanuel was the pragmatic force curbing the Leftist ambitions of Jarrett and Axelrod.

Rendell was a Hillary! supporter, but he is enough of a party animal to thrust himself into a position of power.

onlineanalyst on September 8, 2010 at 12:44 PM

My non-interest in Rahm Emmanuel’s political future is so massive it bends light.

Bat Chain Puller on September 8, 2010 at 12:47 PM

Rendell makes a lot of sence therefore Obama won’t choose him.

WisRich on September 8, 2010 at 12:48 PM

Doesn’t matter. Obummer cannot pull off a Clinton like move to the center, it’s not within him. He’s a petluant, thin skinned prick who will not heel to a new CoS’s counsel.

bloviator on September 8, 2010 at 12:48 PM

Democrats looking at a tsunami in 2010 know this would mean a repeat in 2012, and could generate a serious presidential primary challenge from someone like Evan Bayh as a means of rescuing the Democratic Party from the grip of the Left.

Picking her would also openly signal to the world that he is henpecked by two women, on-going.

Schadenfreude on September 8, 2010 at 12:48 PM

My non-interest in Rahm Emmanuel’s political future is so massive it bends light.

Bat Chain Puller on September 8, 2010 at 12:47 PM

I take it you’re not in Chicago, where he looks to take over.

Brian1972 on September 8, 2010 at 12:50 PM

My non-interest in Rahm Emmanuel’s political future is so massive it bends light.

Bat Chain Puller on September 8, 2010 at 12:47 PM

that is a refraction of epic proportions.

upinak on September 8, 2010 at 12:50 PM

If Valerie Jarrett wants the job, she’ll get it. Obama is too arrogant and too convinced of his political and intellectual superiority to change stripes. Scary as it is, Rahm is the calming, pragmatic, most centrist member of the inner circle. With him out of the way the ultra left will have Obama’s ear and he’ll go wherever they pull him. Jarrett gets the job.

Trafalgar on September 8, 2010 at 12:51 PM

If Obama really had a brain, and would not be such a Liar and a Utopian idealist, he’d pick Pat Caddell as CoS.

Schadenfreude on September 8, 2010 at 12:51 PM

I take it you’re not in Chicago, where he looks to take over.

Brian1972 on September 8, 2010 at 12:50 PM

can’t we just build a large wall and let all the liberals go at each other? I know, too much to ask for.

upinak on September 8, 2010 at 12:51 PM

Obama is scared of challenging his base, and his base is the core groups on the left that are going to demand a new CoS to their liking. Unless the union leaders, environmental groups and the anti-big business crowd in general are so afraid of a 2012 disaster they OK a replacement for Rahm with a ‘moderate’ Clintonesque reputation, it ain’t happening.

Rendell is borderline acceptable — he’d be OK with the unions, but not-so-good with some of the other groups — while Podesta would be perfect, because he’s got Clinton White House connections which would be played up in an attempt to spin him as a ‘moderate’ while his actions over the past decade show a man with a mind pretty much interchangable with Keith Olbermann.

jon1979 on September 8, 2010 at 12:51 PM

And, by the way, Jarrett’s appontment would be “unprecedented” and “historic”.

Trafalgar on September 8, 2010 at 12:54 PM

can’t we just build a large wall and let all the liberals go at each other? I know, too much to ask for.

upinak on September 8, 2010 at 12:51 PM

Haha, made me think of that old movie, Escape From New York.

Brian1972 on September 8, 2010 at 12:54 PM

Bill Clinton, now that would be a hoot…

right2bright on September 8, 2010 at 12:54 PM

Valerie Jarrett….First female Chief of Staff.

Another “first”, so there you have it.

pseudonominus on September 8, 2010 at 12:55 PM

If Obama really had a brain, and would not be such a Liar and a Utopian idealist, he’d pick Pat Caddell as CoS.

Schadenfreude on September 8, 2010 at 12:51 PM

Didn’t Pat just refer to him as a dictator last week?

Monica on September 8, 2010 at 12:55 PM

Obama’s childish, and irresponsible behavior seem more tuned toward having someone who can reign him in, and tutor him a bit in how the real world works.

Is The Nanny available?

capejasmine on September 8, 2010 at 12:56 PM

The goal: to maintain the president’s comfort level while bringing in an outside perspective that would help mitigate the insularity of the current West Wing.

These TWO goals seem mutually exclusive. Can anyone maintain Obama’s “comfort level” while bringing in an “outside” perspective, when Obama’s fragile ego requires fawning adulation, and constructive advice sometimes requires criticism?

One could imagine the exchange:

Outside Advisor: Mr. President, people have been telling me that you should change your policy on ______.

Obama: I am the one we’ve been waiting for! I have a gift! I will stop the seas from rising! I saved 6 million jobs! How DARE you say that to ME, you stupid, racist son of a Bush! I’m looking for an @$$ to kick, and you’re it!

Steve Z on September 8, 2010 at 12:56 PM

Ed Rendell brings too much scandal along with all those political skills, so he’s never going to take so public a job. No, the guy Obama will choose is going to be from Chicago (the president wants to “be comfortable” with him), is going to be OK with the party power structure and is a guy Obama knows well. William Daley, in other words.

MTF on September 8, 2010 at 12:59 PM

“However, picking an outsider like Jarrett ……”

.
So, as expected, Val’s under consideration only as a formality; much like the Oscars, it’s the nomination that really matters …..
.
Ow. That’s going to leave a mark.
.
Val’s not going to like this. A lot.
.
Heh

Arbalest on September 8, 2010 at 12:59 PM

Why not pick another one of Zero’s pals who has already received a subpoena from a federal grand jury? Just to reduce costs, don’t ya know.

MayorDaley on September 8, 2010 at 1:02 PM

Russian variety?

lorien1973 on September 8, 2010 at 1:05 PM

Can Rahmbo do a glissade into the ‘da Mare’s’ office? Depends whether he is too much dirtied by his involvement in the disastrous administration of the Bamster. COS is definitely close enough to the top that he has to share blame, but no real legal scandals have hit him yet, as they have the bumbling Eric Holder.

Whether he succeeds or not depends on the quality of primary competition and the Republican opponent.

slickwillie2001 on September 8, 2010 at 1:08 PM

There are no Republican opponents in Chicago. The only election is the Democrat primary.

The real story is that Daley got pushed out. Being Mayor of Chicago is an F – ing valuable thing, he isn’t giving it up for no reason.

Angry Dumbo on September 8, 2010 at 1:14 PM

Only in Chicago politics is being a U.S. congressman and then White House chief of staff considered a mere stepping stone to the big time as head kahuna of the Chicago political machine.

simkeith on September 8, 2010 at 1:27 PM

Biden’s WIFE has a chief of staff? Please tell me it is a medical staff, not a political one.

One other possible candidate: Al Sharpton. He is unethical, has IRS problems, and seems to be in need of gainful employment since he ran NAN into the ground.

mad scientist on September 8, 2010 at 1:31 PM

How about Arlen Specter? :)

Conservative in NOVA on September 8, 2010 at 1:39 PM

Wonder how many White House staffers would like to exchange Obama for somebody else…

albill on September 8, 2010 at 1:45 PM

If Rahm leaves, who is going to perform visits to congressional Gym bathrooms?

antisocial on September 8, 2010 at 2:32 PM

I don’t care who the COS is, Barry ain’t going to change. He’s a socialist. He follows the One True Way. Socialist thought is CORRECT, all else is in error. If anything, the new COS’s main function will be to show Barry how to be a lame duck, one-term president.

GarandFan on September 8, 2010 at 2:37 PM

Little known fact. Cook County, IL has the same population as all of Wisconsin. Likewise, it has the same population as all of Maryland. It is a very big town (Richard J. annexed the land around O’Hare in one of the nation’s most notorious municipal land grabs) that swallows the County.

Ergo, being Mayor of Chicago is a big F-ing thing which you don’t give up for nothin.

Angry Dumbo on September 8, 2010 at 6:01 PM