Ed Rendell says Colin Powell should join West Wing
Everyone seemed to love my idea that President Obama needs a governor in the West Wing and that that governor should be Ed Rendell (D-Pa.). Everyone except Rendell's son. In a jovial five-minute phone conversation this morning, Gov. Rendell told me that he assured his son that the president would rather walk over hot coals daily than have him underfoot. But Rendell did tell me who he thought would be "perfect": Republican former secretary of state Colin Powell.
Powell was my first choice for chief of staff back in September when Chicago Mayor Richard Daley announced he would not seek another term, thus giving then-chief of staff Rahm Emanuel the opening he needed to bolt the administration. But I was talked out of thinking of Powell for Rahm's post.
...because of Powell's role in the run-up to the Iraq War, the progressive wing of the Democratic Party would go absolutely nuts if he were chosen. Also, why on earth would he want such a thankless job? And now that she's got him off the White House hamster wheel, why on earth would Mrs. Powell want to let him go back?
"He's enough of a patriot," Rendell said, that "I can't believe [Powell] would say no" to the president if asked to take the job.
Rendell rattled off Powell's pluses, including the high regard with which he's held on both sides of the aisle and the personal prestige he invested in endorsing a Democrat in the presidential election. I couldn't agree more. I would add that the retired general being outside Obama's inner circle is another advantage. And because he is used to the power of the Oval Office, Powell would be respectful of the occupant of the Oval, but he would not be awed by the person who sits in it.
Rendell said Obama shouldn't worry about the base if he were to pick Powell. "We have got to govern," he said. "The best way to get reelected is to do a good job." Rendell told me that Obama needed "the stature of someone above the fray" to help him get through an education bill with bipartisan changes to No Child Left Behind, an energy bill without cap-and-trade and "real deficit reduction." According to Rendell, "Colin Powell is the only one who could do it."
| December 14, 2010; 2:02 PM ET
Categories: Capehart | Tags: Jonathan Capehart
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