White House Minus Rahm: Less Machiavelli, More Socrates

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Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

One week without Rahm Emanuel and the difference is already palpable. Gone are the days when staffers were summoned by "hollering for them to get the hell in here right away," says Politico. Instead, newly appointed chief of staff Pete Rouse will send an e-mail request. Eh, borderline namby-pamby, but we'll allow it. And where his predecessor was a whirling dervish of opinionated, on-the-spot decision-making, the more mellow Rouse signals "his intentions through pointed questions, the same Socratic technique favored by President Barack Obama." A top administration official compares the two: "Rahm is declarative. Pete is inquisitive." Wait, he is curious about things? Hardly the mark of a decider. But before you accuse Rouse of lacking cojones and dismiss him as a "64-year-old cat-loving recluse," consider how comfortable he is with the words "You're fired!"

Although insiders predict Obama's closest circle of advisers will stay insular and populated with people the president knows and trusts, Rouse, a longtime aide to Tom Daschle, is not afraid to send "lazy, incompetent, or transparently ambitious" staffers packing. One of the dozens of Democratic operatives who consider themselves "Cult of Pete" told Politico, "You don’t get to be as powerful as Pete is without knowing when to cut people loose." Clubby, but not afraid of a pink slip — that sounds more American.

Insiders still rule Pete Rouse White House [Politico]