Obama Needs Someone Who Will Say No to Him

Today is expected to bring the official announcement that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel will be exiting the administration in order to pursue a bid for Mayor of Chicago. Immediately following the announcement, it is expected President Obama will also announce the appointment of Pete Rouse to the post on an interim basis.
If the president wants to truly get his administration moving forward, the appointment of Rouse must only be temporary as he looks outside his inner circle for a true game changer.

Obama is floundering at the moment and it is a common, and understandable, critique that he is too reliant on a close circle of advisers who all tend to think the same way. Worse, that circle is shrinking and the country is suffering because of it. It is imperative that the president install a person with independence, as well as unquestionable credibility to take command of the White House staff and help right the ship.

The president must also wake up to the reality that the Republicans are gaining influence come the November elections, if not completely taking over both chambers of Congress and he needs someone who will command the respect of the right as well as the left.

It is also of great importance the person has ties to the business community and is viewed as someone independent of the partisan, political attacks that are currently alienating the administration from businesses of all sizes.

And perhaps most importantly, this individual needs to be able to say clearly and effectively, “No” to the president when necessary.

Perhaps such a candidate for replacing Emanuel seems unbelievable, but there is someone who fits all of these categories and then some. Former chief of staff to President Clinton, Erskine Bowles, is hands down the best person for the job.

He knows what needs to be done to move this country forward, both from his time during the Clinton administration when he worked to negotiate the balanced budget agreement with a Republican controlled Congress, as well as his current work as head of the Presidents National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform with former Senator Alan Simpson.

Without question, he is credentialed. Beyond that, however, he has stature in his private sector life as well through his success in business and private equity. However, most importantly, he is viewed as independent and will add a new voice to a rather monotone and ineffective staff of insiders.

Let’s be clear, Bowles is a Democrat. He is loyal to the party, and to his president which are absolutely necessary to be a successful chief of staff. -- The difference is that he would bring a breath of fresh air and a new, experienced, perspective to a White House in chaos.

Douglas E. Schoen is a political strategist and author of the new book "Mad as Hell: How the Tea Party Movement is Fundamentally Remaking Our Two-Party System" published by Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins.

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