So, things didn’t work out quite like they were supposed to for White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. His status as the right-hand man to the philosopher-king destined to save the United States largely resulted in “Rahm-ing” through both a stimulus package and a health care “reform” bill that proved wildly unpopular with the American people (including one quite memorable scene involving Rahm in the Congressional gym shower). Moreover, Rahm’s generally moderate and pragmatic thinking never meshed well with the West Wing FDR ideologues surrounding Obama. These are the same individuals who believe the stimulus, health care and financial reform didn’t go far enough.
Then again, maybe Rahm is the cat that swallowed the canary.
It’s long been known that Emanuel has coveted Richard Daley’s spot as King of Chicago, and it now appears that he just may get it. I have no idea how he will govern there; I don’t know him or the city. My guess, however, is that to be mayor of Chicago you have to be willing to cut a few deals and prod with a few nude shower fingers (both of which Emanuel has demonstrated a willingness to do).
The national ramifications of President Obama’s selection of Emanuel’s successor, however, are potentially colossal. I’m not in the business of giving political advice to Democrats, but Obama could go one of two ways. He could “Clinton up” and replace Rahm with a more steady hand at the tiller who will move the administration more toward the center following what is sure to be a Republican onslaught on November 2. Candidates in this vein include former Senator Majority Leader Tom Daschle (whom, I confess, is a personal friend and mentor of mine), Senator Mark Warner, although it is unlikely he will leave the Senate to run a White House he currently views as veering too far to the left, and Leon Panetta — a known bipartisan and statesman who has held the position before.
Or Obama could double down and select one of his old Chicago cronies and/or those who embolden his far left leanings. At the top of that list is longtime consigliere Valerie Jarrett. Some media outlets are already reporting she is the frontrunner. Others mentioned in the same breath include Ron Klain, currently Chief of Staff to Vice President Biden and known liberal attack dog, and John Podesta, a former White House Chief of Staff who already runs the “shadow” White House — the Center for American Progress. Although it’s unlikely Podesta would want to leave his million dollar a year job seeing as he essentially pulls the Obama strings from outside 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
The partisan in me hopes that Obama chooses someone from the second tranche, which will all but assure a one term — Carter-esque presidency that emboldens Republicans. The nationalist in me, however, remains deeply concerned with that choice and hopes Obama selects someone who rights the ship and charts a more centrist course for the administration.
Cameron Lynch is a former aide to three Republican Senators and president of The Lynch Group, LLC, a Republican government affairs and political consulting firm.