Enter Pete Rouse: Who is Obama's new chief of staff?
Rahm Emanuel's replacement couldn't be more different from his predecessor, say pundits. A quick guide to the "101st Senator"
Pete Rouse, a White House senior adviser, is stepping into Rahm Emanuel's shoes as White House chief of staff today. Who is Rouse, and what might he bring to the position of Obama's right hand man?
What is Rouse's background?Currently a senior adviser to the President, the 64-year-old consultant has worked with Obama since his freshman term as senator in 2005. Before that, he worked in the office of then Senate majority leader Tom Daschle. A long-term political consultant, he has been described as the "101st Senator" due to the depth of his Washington knowledge.
What's he like?"Remember that no-drama thing you used to hear about the Obama team?" asks Ezra Klein at The Washington Post. "That's Rouse." Described variously as "low-key" and "spotlight-shy," Rouse is famous for working quietly behind the scenes to get a result. Politico's Mike Allen describes him as being "invisible to most of Washington, figuratively and literally: He rarely talks to reporters, and never on the record."
Is he an Emanuel clone?Far from it. The 64-year-old is almost a polar opposite to the famously combative Emanuel, described by New York's Nitasha Tiku as "a combo of Machiavelli and Iago." In fact, he's the "anti-Rahm," says Sheryl Gay Stolberg in The New York Times. "Mr. Emanuel relishes repartee with reporters; Mr. Rouse avoids it. Mr. Emanuel’s penchant for four-letter words is legendary; one friend of Mr. Rouse’s says that in 35 years, he has never heard him swear. The high-octane Mr. Emanuel bullies; Mr. Rouse, low-key and lumbering, soothes."
What will he bring to the job?White House aides tell the Associated Press' Ben Feller that Rouse will provide what Obama needs: "a sharp and strategic mind, a sense of continuity, a knack for troubleshooting and an ability to keep people focused on their tasks." But he's an insider, not a communicator, says Bryan Preston at Pajamas Media. His appointment could "increase the disconnect between the White House and Congressional Democrats."
Will he stay in the position?Most expect the interim appointment to become permanent after the midterm elections. But it would be better for Obama to look "outside his inner circle for a true game changer," says Doug Schoen at Fox News. The President not only needs someone with "independence" and "unquestionable credibility," but an individual willing to say no to the President, "clearly and effectively," when necessary. Has Rouse got what it takes to stand up to Obama? Unlikely.