With the departure of Rahm Emanuel as White House Chief of Staff, President Obama has chosen Pete Rouse as Interim Chief of Staff. Rouse is one of Obama's senior advisors. He has served as chief of staff to members of the United States Congress for more than thirty years. Rouse is known as the "101st Senator" for his extensive knowledge of Congress. He became Obama's chief of staff in the Senate in 2004 prior to which he was chief of staff to former Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) for 19 years. He also served as chief of staff to then-Rep. Dick Durbin of Illinois (1984-85) and Lt. Governor Terry Miller of Alaska (1979-83).

Rouse-ObamaPresident Barack Obama talks with Senior Advisor Pete Rouse in the Oval Office, Dec. 9, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

With the departure of Rahm Emanuel as White House Chief of Staff, President Obama has chosen Pete Rouse as Interim Chief of Staff. Rouse is one of Obama's senior advisors. He has served as chief of staff to members of the United States Congress for more than thirty years. Rouse is known as the "101st Senator" for his extensive knowledge of Congress. He became Obama's chief of staff in the Senate in 2004 prior to which he was chief of staff to former Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) for 19 years. He also served as chief of staff to then-Rep. Dick Durbin of Illinois (1984-85) and Lt. Governor Terry Miller of Alaska (1979-83).

Rouse received a B.A. from Colby College, an M.A. from the London School of Economics, and an M.P.A. from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Obama has said that Rouse is "known as a skillful problem-solver" and is one of his "closest and most essential advisors."  

Aside from Rouse's political acumen, Asian Americans are pleased with the pick for another reason: his mother, Mary, is the daughter of Japanese immigrants.

Goro (George) Mikami emigrated from Japan in 1885. He returned to Japan in 1910 to wed Mine Morioka and they returned to the United States together in 1911. Their daughter Mary was the oldest of their four children.

In an article on Rouse's connection to Alaska in the Anchorage Daily News, Tom Kizzia wrote, "Mary [Mikami], entered school speaking only Japanese and went on to become valedictorian at Anchorage High School. In 1934, Mary graduated with honors from the Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines in Fairbanks (the year before it became the University of Alaska), then moved on to Yale, where she earned a Ph.D. and met her husband, Irving Rouse."

The elder Mikamis retired to California before World War II and were sent to a Japanese interment camp in Arizona during the War.

In his Asian culture and politics blog, Original Spin, Jeff Yang wrote, "While Rouse has not emphasized his Asian American roots during his political career, neither has he denied them — and given that his mother grew up speaking only Japanese, and his maternal grandparents were interned during [World War II], he certainly has critical narratives of the Asian American experience deeply embedded in his personal history."

In her blog ReAppropriate, Jenn Fang wrote, "I think it's pretty dang cool to see so many Asian Americans breaking through the political glass ceiling in Washington. 

Rouse is the fourth Asian American in Obama's Cabinet. The others are Gary Locke, Secretary of Commerce; Steven Chu Secretary of Energy; and Gen. Eric Shinseki, Secretary of Veteran Affairs.

 

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