Rahm met with his exes, too

Just like his new boss, chief of staff-designee Emanuel checked in with predecessors.


Thomas Schaller
December 18, 2008 10:50PM (UTC)

Like his boss, who is planning to meet as group early next month with former presidents, Rahm Emanuel met earlier this month with a pack of former White House chiefs of staff.

The Politico has the details:

At the invitation of the job’s current occupant, Josh Bolten, top aides to every president back to Gerald R. Ford gathered at Bolten’s conference table to spend an hour with Emanuel on the morning of December 5.

Aside from the occasional state funeral, such high-powered men, and they are all men, don’t often gather.

But in a nod to the elite fraternity in which they all belong and an eye on the weighty challenges that await Emanuel and his boss, they returned en masse to their old office in the West Wing: Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld (Ford), Jack Watson (Carter), Howard Baker and Kenneth Duberstein (Reagan) John Sununu and Samuel Skinner (Bush 41), Mack McLarty, Leon Panetta, Erskine Bowles and John Podesta (Clinton) and Andy Card and Bolten (Bush).

Funniest moment? Dick Cheney popping his head in to give a piece of advice: "The most important thing is that you have to control your vice-president." With that, Cheney assigned Card a big fat "F." (Get us some cheezburgers, wouldya, Andy?)

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Jokes aside, it is the wise person who knows what he or she doesn't know, and seeks out others for advice. Obviously, some of this bridge-building and connecting is purely political, intended to convey steadiness and continuation of government and open-mindedness. But even if Emanuel or Obama take away one or two small things from sitting down with their respective predecessors, it can't hurt.


Thomas Schaller

Thomas F. Schaller is professor of political science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the author of "Whistling Past Dixie: How Democrats Can Win Without the South." Follow him @schaller67.

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