Rahm Emanuel Throws His Hat Into Chicago Mayoral Race

Rahm Emanuel’s abrupt departure as White House Chief of Staff to run for mayor of Chicago is no surprise  now that Richard M. Daley has announced his retirement after 21 years in office.  The mercurial Emanuel, who left his Congressional seat and House leadership position to take the White House job, was replaced by the more introverted Pete Rouse, who served as President Barack Obama’s Senate chief of staff.  Emanuel ran the White House in an era of economic uproar, two wars and increasing political partisanship and assisted in the passage of what is considered one of the more productive legislative agendas in decades.

“This is a bittersweet day at the White House,” Obama said to senior staff and Cabinet member at the East Room announcement.  “On the one hand, we are all very excited for Rahm as he takes on a new challenge for which he is extraordinarily well qualified.  But we’re also losing an incomparable leader of our staff and one who we are going to miss very much.  Rahm has exceeded all of my expectations.  It’s fair to say that we could not have accomplished what we’ve accomplished without Rahm’s leadership.”

As Chief of Staff, Rouse will bring a completely different, less confrontational style to the job.  Obama said that Rouse has “never seen a microphone or TV camera that he likes.”  Initially, Rouse is expected to reorganize the West Wing to better coordinate policy-making with the political operation, both for the mid-term elections and later for Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign.  Obama described Rouse as one of his “closest and most essential advisers” who brings “customary clarity and common purpose” to the job.

As a going-away gift, Austan Goolsbee, head of the Office of Management and Budget, presented Emanuel with a dead Asian carp wrapped in the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times.  The gift echoed the occasion when Emanuel sent a dead fish to a political opponent.  After Emanuel – who reportedly had tears in his eyes — opened the gift, Goolsbee said, “To most people, it looks like a dead fish.  But to a future mayor of Chicago, it looks like a dead Asian carp. And you’ll be happy to know that it wasn’t easy to find one of these.”  White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs got the last word, “In Chicago, this is how friends say goodbye.”