What Does Chief of Staff Do?

Obama chooses a Chief of Staff
Obama chooses a Chief of Staff

President-elect Barack Obama is not wasting any time in his transition into the newest resident of the White House.  In just over 70 days he’ll be taking over as the 44th President of the United States and he’s going to have to have everything together before then.  So in his first move he has chosen Illinois congressman Rahm Emanuel as White House Chief of Staff for his administration.  Emanuel, formerly a top aide to President Clinton during his administration, is already receiving some criticisms from conservative commentators, but others on the other side are praising  his selection.  He also has experience in Washington and an established relationship with Obama that would make him a great choice to tackle the crucial position.  But why is it so important?  Why is this the first cabinet appointment that President-elect Obama has made?  What does a Chief of Staff do?

Well the White House Chief of Staff is essentially the president’s right-hand man, or what some would call the “co-president”.  Now the duties of a Chief of Staff vary depending on who’s president.  Some presidents are more hands-on which would make a Chief of Staff not as important and some other presidents aren’t as into every little detail, but that’s where the Chief of Staff would come in.  Either way, it’s probably safe to say that the White House Chief of Staff is the second most powerful person in Washington. 

The White House Chief of Staff is almost like the go-to man and middle man put together.  His (or her) duties are usually both advisory and managerial.  As far as White House administration he may select and supervise staffing, manage and track the amount of people going into the Oval Office and be a gatekeeper of information.  The Chief of Staff is also supposed to be highly in tune to what matters to the president, able to handle all affairs concerning the president whether political or not, and to also protect the interest of the president.  But of anyone close to the president, this will be the chief person to advise on policy’s, politics, and anything of that nature.

Not for nothin’, but in some countries the Chief of Staff is also known as the Prime Minister.  The person who directly oversees governmental operations.  Of course he can be overruled by the president, but with a person such as this, who could potentially at times be as powerful as the president, we kind of lose democracy because no election was involved.  Maybe that’s why the White House Chief of Staff is always behind the scenes, and only last just over two years on average.


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