Don’t mess with Rahm Emanuel.
Everyone in Chicago already knows about that the foul-mouthed politician is a Washington heavy, but now that GQ Magazine rated the White House Chief of Staff as the their No. 1 most powerful person in D.C. the whole world will know.
More, much more, than just the gatekeeper to the president. In addition to his five years as senior adviser in the Clinton White House, Rahm served six years in the House and, more importantly, engineered the Democratic takeover of Congress in '06.
He knows procedure, he's ruthlessly pragmatic about what is politically achievable, and he knows how and when to twist arms and call in the many favors he's owed. All of which has helped him wrangle fence-sitters when it came to ponying up for the stimulus package, negotiate with the Senate Finance Committee on health care, and keep the liberal and conservative elements of his own party in line.
Obstruct the White House and at some point Rahm will come calling. Says Senator Lindsey Graham, a man not known for agreeing with the administration: "The president is lucky to have him."
A couple other Chicagoans have made the GQ list.
GQ also gave a shout to Valerie Jarrett at No. 16
She was with him when he was a community organizer. She was with him when he ran for the House seat. She was with him when he ran for the Senate. And she was with him when he decided to run for president. She is the only adviser—among a group that includes Axelrod (#6), Rahm (#1), and Pete Rouse—who has real history with the Obamas. And what those fifteen-plus years of friendship bring is the ability to push him—as she did when insisting he make the now famous race speech—in that quiet back-channel way that no one else can.
And Desiree Rogers, the White House Social Secretary and former Chicago businesswoman ranks No. 40.
"Normally, you would not put the social secretary on a power list," says Sally Quinn, "but because of her close relationship with both Obamas, she's different." A Harvard MBA and former head of a social-networking program for Allstate, she's said that she looks at her job as supporting "the Obama brand." The result? People have been clamoring to be on the guest list for events that only this White House could throw: a White House poetry jam, a concert for Stevie Wonder, and an Easter Egg Roll with music by Fergie.