Pete Rouse, a top White House aid, has been appointed to replace Rahm Emanuel as White House chief of staff. Rouse is described as a low-key fixer, in sharp contrast to the volatile Emanuel, who is leaving the White House to run for mayor of Chicago. Rouse, a long-time Washington insider, is taking a job some say most people wouldn’t want as the Obama administration seems destined to navigate troubled waters following the November election.
Pete Rouse is the ‘anti-Rahm’
Pete Rouse was introduced by President Obama as a “skillful problem solver” when his appointment as interim White House chief of staff was announced Friday. Sheryl Gay Stohlberg of the New York Times said Rouse was virtually unknown outside the White House, but he has been very influential within it. Stohlberg wrote that “Rouse is the anti-Rahm.” While Emanuel was flamboyant, profane and larger than life, Rouse is intensely private and works behind the scenes. Rouse was chief of staff for former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle and ran Obama’s senatorial office. He moved with Obama to the White House as a senior adviser described as extraordinarily close to the president.
Toughest job in government
Pete Rouse has a hard act to follow as he fills Emanuel’s shoes. The difficult political climate the White House is facing had Dana Milbank of the Washington Post saying Rouse had “the worst week in Washington” even before his appointment was made official. Milbank wrote that Rouse is “stepping into the toughest job in government at one of the toughest times imaginable.” In the November election, Democrats seem destined to lose a bunch of seats. Getting Obama’s agenda passed over the next two years will be harder than ever.
Beware the wrath of Palin
Pete Rouse is already drawing the wrath of Sarah Palin. According to CNN, Palin started tweeting innuendo about Rouse as soon as his name came up as a possible replacement for Emanuel. CNN reports that Palin said Rouse maintained his voter registration in Alaska so he could collect the state’s yearly dividend. But Rouse’s name does not appear on the Alaska Permanent Fund dividend records. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs called Palin’s accusations “fairly silly.”