This past Friday, President Obama stepped forward to announce the resignation of his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, which many believed would be a precursor to Emanuel announcing a run for mayor of Chicago. On Youtube, Emanuel did exactly that on Sunday, posting a video announcement of his mayoral run. Emanuel’s resignation is the first major personnel shift for the Obama administration, but it appears that the president may already have found an interim replacement in political insider Peter Rouse.
Rouse isn’t a name most people would recognize. According to Politics Daily, Rouse is known as a mediator, someone who works behind the scenes to get things accomplished. Obama announced Emanuel’s departure and Rouse’s promotion to interim chief of staff in the same speech, calling Rouse “a skillful problem solver.”
Rouse has been a Washington insider for years, but nobody outside of political circles really knows him. The Los Angeles Times Saturday listed his accomplishments behind the scenes, however, and reading through his experiences, Obama’s faith in him makes a lot more sense. Rouse was chief of staff for former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle for 18 years and also previously for Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., so he had a ton of political contacts to help the then newly elected Senator Obama in 2005. He’s been one of Obama’s top aides ever since, part of a small inner group that, up until Friday, also included Rahm Emanuel.
Obama chose Rouse specifically because of his ability to get the job done and find political common ground without raising any hackles along the way. Politics Daily pointed out that Obama himself joked in his announcement of Rouse’s appointment that there was a line around the White House: “Let’s let Pete fix it.”
“Fixing” seems indeed to be what Rouse excels at, and could be a welcome change. Emanuel was known for being an aggressive, hands-on manager, and Rouse’s soft-spoken though tough, mediation-driven approach may be just what Obama needs to get his agenda back off the ground. If Rouse becomes Emanuel’s permanent replacement, and there’s no reason to think that he wouldn’t, he might be just the person to run the office when Obama runs for re-election in 2012.
Rahm Emanuel, “An announcement from Rahm Emanuel.” Youtube.com
Alex Wagner, “As Emanuel Steps Down, “Fixer” Peter Rouse Steps into the Spotlight.” PoliticsDaily.com
Peter Nicholas and Lisa Mascaro, “Low-Profile Obama Aide Gets Top Spot.” LATimes.com
Holly Bailey, “Meet Pete Rouse, Obama’s Next Chief of Staff.” YahooNews.com
Anne E. Komblut, “Pete Rouse, who will replace Emanuel as chief of staff, is known as ‘fixer’.” WashingtonPost.com