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White House Gives Outgoing Chief Of Staff Rahm Emanuel A Parting Gift: A Dead Fish

Earlier today, President Obama announced White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is stepping down, to run for Mayor of Chicago. Pete Rouse will be his replacement.

CBS News reports Austan Goolsbee, the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors, presented Emanuel with a present at his final Senior Staff meeting in the Roosevelt Room this morning:

"I talked to the policy team and we wanted to give you a going away present," Goolsbee is quoted by Gibbs as telling the morning meeting of top White House aides.

Goolsbee said the staff wanted to give Emanuel "something to show how we feel about you, but also shows we understand your new possibilities."

Emanuel unwrapped the present and immediately recognized what it was: "This is a dead fish," he reportedly declared.

Actually, it was more than that, explained Goolsbee.

""To most people it looks like a dead fish, but to a future Mayor of Chicago, it looks like a dead Asian Carp."

The significance of that gift? The New York Times reminds us how "Mr. Emanuel still trades on a reputation sealed years ago as a ferocious operative, a reputation that, by most accounts is dated."

While he remains a tough, foul-mouthed scrapper, he is more likely these days to give a dog dish to a senator who got a new puppy (as he did to Kent Conrad this summer) than send a dead fish to an enemy (as he did two decades ago as a brash young campaign aide).

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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David Gura
Based in New York, David Gura is a correspondent on NPR's business desk. His stories are broadcast on NPR's newsmagazines, All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Weekend Edition, and he regularly guest hosts 1A, a co-production of NPR and WAMU.
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