President Obama clearly wants Rahm Emanuel to wait until after the November elections to leave the White House to run for mayor of Chicago.
"He is an excellent chief of staff. I think right now, as long as he is in the White House, he is critically focused on making sure that we're creating jobs for families around the country and rebuilding our economy," Obama told George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America. "And you know, the one thing I've always been impressed with about Rahm is that when he has a job to do, he focuses on the job in front of him. And so my expectation is, he'd make a decision after these midterm elections. He knows that we've got a lot of work to do. But I think he'd be a terrific mayor."
But if Emanuel wants to run for mayor, what Obama should do instead is hustle his vulgarity-prone chief of staff onto Air Force One and return him to the Windy City without delay.
Obama appears to want to choose stability to get him through the coming election which appears to be a tough one for his party. But, in fact, he would be much better served all around if he began a wholesale West Wing shake-up today.
Let me be clear: I urge Emanuel's quick departure out of no ill will or feeling toward him personally or politically. I certainly have not always agreed with him, but unlike others on the Left, I think Emanuel has made valuable contributions.
The former congressman clearly has had a lot to do with a string of Obama successes, including last year's stimulus, up through healthcare reform, banking reform and more. And, of course, without Emanuel, Democrats today might not have won the majority that this year they so dearly need to defend.
That said, if Emanuel wants to try for his dream job at City Hall, then the time for him to make the move is before, not after, Americans go to the polls.
Consider the timing of George W. Bush's decision to replace Donald Rumsfeld. Bush waited to fire his secretary of defense until the day after Democrats retook Congress in 2006. Republicans became angry because they argued that they could have at least kept the Senate if Bush had let Rumsfeld go earlier.