Capital considers Rahm Emanuel’s prospects

By Ric Bohy

January 11, 2010 at 2:14pm

Washington is “abuzz with speculation” over White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel’s future, including whether he might make a run for political mentor Richard M. Daley’s job as mayor of Chicago, according to Politico and other online news sources.

Calling Emanuel “the administration’s most feared and fascinating personality,” Politico attributes the buzz in large part to Emanuel’s own prediction, when he accepted the White House job in 2008, that “he couldn’t foresee staying in the post for more than 18 months or two years.”

Put the remark in the context of a singularly rough first year for the Obama presidency, and the pundits are predicting that Emanuel will soon have to take the heat for his boss and move on. But such a departure wouldn’t merely be an act of loyally falling on his sword.

The New York Post chimed in, suggesting that, “Though once a congressman himself, Emanuel is said to be frustrated with lawmakers who won’t bend to his will.”

Rahm Emanuel
Rahm Emanuel

Legislative Washington is offended by his style, the Post noted, saying that his quick temper “has not been well received in some quarters.” It suggested that Obama adviser and to-the-bone loyalist Valerie Jarrett is the frontrunner to replace Emanuel.

Writing for The Huffington Post, columnist Michael Wolff offered his own prognostication, pointing to long-standing and “significant rancor” toward Emanuel by the speaker of the House. “A few months ago I started to hear that Nancy Pelosi was dining out on her enmity toward Rahm Emanuel, saying her goals for the year included, together with the health-care bill, his head.”

Wolff continued: “It’s a putsch that now seems in obvious progress. One indication is that there is suddenly a dignified, if implausible, rationale for why Rahm might want to leave: Because he’s frustrated, because he’s temperamentally unsuited to the job (he’s a screamer), or because he’s decided to run for mayor of Chicago.”

While Politico quoted one unnamed White House aide as flatly saying Emanuel is “not going anywhere,” unnamed “top administration officials” reportedly said “they expect Emanuel to remain in the West Wing at least through November’s midterm elections — and indicated that he might stay around even longer if President Barack Obama asks him to help on the run-up to his 2012 reelection bid.”

Responding to rumors that he may decide to leave the White House with an eye on Chicago’s mayoralty in 2011, Emanuel emailed Politico to say Daley – who has had the job since 1989 – “has my full support, and it is my deep hope that he will seek reelection.”

Daley testily dismissed the speculation about his own future as gossip, according to Politico, which countered by noting that the six-term Chicago mayor’s current approval ratings are below 40 percent while, at home, he is occupied “helping his wife battle cancer.”

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