John Boehner's 'Pale,' 'Pudgy' Chief of Staff vs. Obama's 'Low-Key and Lumbering,' Yet Soothing, One

A tale of two chiefs of staff, one for a top Republican, one for the top Democrat: "[Barry] Jackson, the chief of staff to Mr. Boehner, the House Republican leader from Ohio, is shaggy-haired and dough-faced...He is rumpled and pudgy..."
A tale of two chiefs of staff?

One works for Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner, the other for Democratic President Barack Obama. Two men who shun the limelight and share similar physical features. But while Republican leader John Boehner's chief-of-staff Barry Jackson was called "dough-faced," "pale" and "pudgy" in a recent Times profile, President Barack Obama's new chief of staff Pete Rouse is at worst merely "low-key and lumbering."

The White House announced that Pete Rouse, senior adviser to Obama, will replace Rahm Emanuel as Obama's chief of staff, as noted in the Friday piece "After Emanuel's Bark and Bite, An Aide With a Gentler Manner" by Michael Shear and Jeff Zeleny.

President Obama plans to continue reshaping his inner circle on Friday, replacing his brusque and aggressive chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, with a soft-spoken insider who has worked quietly in Mr. Obama's shadow for years....Mr. Rouse is the consummate staff member who has been at Mr. Obama's side since 2005, when Mr. Obama arrived in Washington as a freshman senator.

In a related Friday story, "Filling an Aide's Shoes With Very Different Feet," Sheryl Gay Stolberg also described Rouse in benign terms as "the anti-Rahm," a reference to his fiery predecessor Rahm Emanuel.

Mr. Emanuel relishes repartee with reporters; Mr. Rouse avoids it. Mr. Emanuel's penchant for four-letter words is legendary; one friend of Mr. Rouse's says that in 35 years, he has never heard him swear. The high-octane Mr. Emanuel bullies; Mr. Rouse, low-key and lumbering, soothes.

But while he keeps a low profile outside the White House, the 64-year-old Mr. Rouse plays an influential role within it, a role that dates from his days running Mr. Obama's Senate office, when he was the Washington insider teaching a newcomer the ropes. Since moving with Mr. Obama to the White House as a senior adviser to the president - a title that puts him on a tier with two better-known aides, Valerie Jarrett and David Axelrod - he has remained extraordinarily close to the president.

Here's "lumbering" as defined at dictionary.com: "Move in a slow, heavy, awkward way." It's not a flattering word, but the sentence as a whole was flattering, and "lumbering" is not nearly as blunt a description as "dough-faced," "rumpled," "pale," or "pudgy," words the Times used to describe Barry Jackson, the chief of staff of Republican John Boehner, by Ashley Parker in a profile on Sunday.

Parker's profile carried a slightly ominous tone, underlined by the title "Boehner's Top Aide Is Little Known." (That's hardly surprising!)

Representative John A. Boehner and Barry Jackson cut an odd figure.

Mr. Jackson, the chief of staff to Mr. Boehner, the House Republican leader from Ohio, is shaggy-haired and dough-faced, pale to Mr. Boehner's preternatural tan. He is rumpled and pudgy; his boss is lean and sharply tailored. While Mr. Boehner, 60, loves golf, Mr. Jackson, 49, prefers car racing - he has been going to the dirt tracks ever since he was a child in Ohio and makes an annual pilgrimage to the Indianapolis 500.

Mr. Jackson, who ends conversations with "groovy," has helped position his boss to become the next House speaker, should the midterm elections fall their party's way in November. One of the most influential and least-known figures in Washington, Mr. Jackson has been a quiet force in Republican politics for more than 20 years.