Let Us Talk

November 8, 2008

Who Is Rahm Emanuel – Why Is The Chief Of Staff So Important?

 

 

Obama

The White House Chief of Staff is the highest ranking member of the Executive Office of the President of the United States and a senior aide to the President.  The Chief of Staff is often nicknamed ‘The Second Most Powerful Man in Washington’ because of the influence and access to the President.

pres-elect-rahm-emanuel “I announce this appointment first because the chief of staff is central to the ability of a President and administration to accomplish an agenda,” President-Elect Obama said in a statement. “And no one I know is better at getting things done than Rahm Emanuel.”

Traditionally the Chief of Staff has been responsible for overseeing the actions of the White House staff, managing the President’s schedule and deciding who is allowed to meet with the President.  Because of these duties, the Chief of Staff has at various times been called ‘The Gatekeeper’ and ‘The Co-President’.

Most White House Chiefs of Staff are former politicians and many continue their political careers in other senior roles once they leave the White House.  Gerald Ford’s Chief of Staff was Dick Cheney.  Cheney became US Representative for Wyoming, then Secretary of Defense under George H.W. Bush and Vice President under George W. Bush.

The roles of the Chief of Staff are both managerial and advisory and can include the following duties depending on President Obama’s vision and style of conducting business:

·       Select key White House staff and supervise them

·       Structure the White House staff system

·       Control the flow of people into the Oval Office

·       Manage the flow of information to the POTUS

·       Advise the President on issues, politics and policies and management issues

·       Protect the interest of the President

·       Negotiate with Congress and other members of the Executive Branch and other governmental political groups to implement the President’s agenda

Rahm Israel Emanuel, President-Elect Obama’s choice for Chief of Staff was born in Chicago, Illinois.  His first name Rahm means ‘high’ or ‘lofty’ in Hebrew and his last name, Emanuel, means ‘God is with us.’

Rahm’s last name was adopted by his family in 1933 after Rahm’s paternal uncle Emanuel Auerbach was killed in a skirmish with Arabs in Jerusalem.

Rahm’s father, Benjamin Emanuel was born in Jerusalem.  He is a pediatrician and former member of the Irgun – a staunchly nationalist Zionist militia active in the British Mandate of Palestine between 1931 and 1948.  His mother, the former Martha Smulevitz, worked as an x-ray technician and was the daughter of a local union organizer.  She became a civil rights activist and was also the owner of a Chicago- area rock and roll club.

Rahm attended Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School – a Jewish day school.  After his family moved to Wilmette he attended public schools: Romona School, Wilmette Junior High School and New Trier West High School.  He and his brothers attended summer camp in Israel. During high school while working at an Arby’s Emanuel severely injured his right middle finger.  Instead of getting medical treatment he went swimming in Lake Michigan.  His finger became severely infected and was partially amputated.

Rahm graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 1981 and received a Masters in Speech and Communication from Northwestern University in 1985. While an undergraduate he joined the congressional campaign of David Robinson, Chicago.

Emanuel was a civilian volunteer in the Israel Defense Forces during the 1991 Persian Gulf War and served in one of Israel’s northern bases.

Amy Rule, Rahm’s wife, is a graduate of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.  Amy converted to Modern Orthodox Judaism shortly before their wedding.  They are active members of Anshe Sholom B’nai Israel – a Modern Orthodox congregation in Chicago.  They have three children: a son Zachariah and daughters Ilana and Leah.

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