Alex Spillius at The Telegraph:
Rahm Emanuel expected to quit White House
Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, is expected to leave his job later this year after growing tired of the “idealism” of Barack Obama’s inner circle.
Washington insiders say he will quit within six to eight months in frustration at their unwillingness to “bang heads together” to get policy pushed through.
Mr Emanuel, 50, enjoys a good working relationship with Mr Obama but they are understood to have reached an understanding that differences over style mean he will serve only half the full four-year term.
Friends say he is also worried about burnout and losing touch with his young family due to the pressure of one of most high profile jobs in US politics.
“I would bet he will go after the midterms,” said a leading Democratic consultant in Washington. “Nobody thinks it’s working but they can’t get rid of him – that would look awful. He needs the right sort of job to go to but the consensus is he’ll go.”
An official from the Bill Clinton era said that “no one will be surprised” if Mr Emanuel left after the midterm elections in November, when the Democratic party will battle to save its majorities in the house of representatives and the senate.
The Telegraph article was fairly compelling – I was planning to write about it anyway – in that it claimed that the Chief of Staff was burning out, unhappy with the effect DC was having on his kids, and interested in running for Mayor of Chicago. All three of these are certainly believable; and two years seems to be about the normal amount of time for somebody to hold this position anyway. Add to all of this the minor detail that Rahm Emanuel is a horrible Chief of Staff (something that even the Telegraph doesn’t really want to explicitly admit, but which is made fairly clear in that article) and there’s no non-political reason to call the story ‘ludicrous.’Politically speaking, of course, it would look very, very bad for the White House if it got out that the man who designed the Democrats’ 2006/2008 Congressional strategy was planning to announce his resignation just after that Congressional strategy crashes, burns, ignites, explodes, and seeps toxic polysyllabic chemicals into the groundwater this November. Not that a strategy of blustering denial will do anything except kick the can down the road for another four months, but they’ll worry about that later.
An exit by Emanuel would not come as a complete shock. Chiefs of staff do not necessarily last for entire terms anyway, and they become expendable after major political defeats. Bill Clinton had four in his two terms, with Mack McClarty hitting the exits after Clinton’s disastrous first midterm election in favor of the more politically adept Leon Panetta.
Still, Emanuel is the one man in the inner circle who understood how to get things done in Washington. Axelrod and Jarrett are Chicago pols and outsiders to the Beltway. That outsider status helps Presidents sell their agenda to the people, but it doesn’t help the White House sell it on Capitol Hill. While Obama won the ObamaCare fight despite Emanuel’s advice (a fact that Emanuel appears to be leaking copiously all over Washington), the battles have damaged Obama’s ability to move on any other issue in the weeks since. Thanks to a nationwide revulsion at the massive spending agenda the ObamaCare bill represents, Obama can’t even get a jobs bill through Congress now, let alone his cap-and-trade priority.
Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan each had four chiefs of staff during the course of their eight years in office, and George H.W. Bush had three in a single term, so consequently I wouldn’t find it shocking if Rahm Emanuel steps down sometime after the midterms—it’d be in line with historical norms rather than Andy Card’s iron man precedent in the early Bush years. But you won’t find much in the way of real evidence for the thesis of Alex Spillius’s Daily Telegraph article “Rahm Emanuel expected to quit White House”. Instead you seem to have one anonymous source who there’s no reason to believe has inside information.
And, in all honesty, the response to the whole (at least in the Blogospher/commentariat) strikes me a bit disproportionate given that the whole is based on vaguely sourced speculation in a foreign newspaper.
Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo:
But. But, and it’s a big ‘but’, if I had a nickel for every big scoop on American politics published by one of the big UK dailies that turned out to be nonsense and based on nothing, well … I’d be a rich man. And that takes a lot of nickels.The record is so bad as to almost suggest this might be evidence that Rahm has pledged to stay until Obama leaves office.
So this story is … some people guessing. Hooray! Also, Rahm has already said he wants to be mayor of Chicago if he can crush Mayor Daley’s machine.
But who is stopping Rahm’s street-thug tactics in the White House? The Torygraph says it’s OTHER Chicago mobsters, specifically David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett. Will this be the biggest Chicago gangland war since Al Capone vs. the Blues Brothers?