It’s revolving door season in Washington: lawmakers with senioritis are bidding adieu, a new congress is a few weeks from commencing, Hakeem Jeffries has received the baton from Nancy Pelosi, and Kevin McCarthy is trying to play “saboteur” whack-a-mole for a job he always wanted, no matter how unappetizing it presents itself to be. Hope springs eternal in a town where everyone is writing—and rewriting, and re-rewriting—their narrative in real time. And that’s especially true in the White House, the human laboratory that usually undergoes its fair share of professional turnover coming out of the midterms.
As I reported last month, Joe Biden’s chief of staff Ron Klain has been looking forward to a much-needed break from civil service after what has turned out to be a particularly strong run overseeing the White House. In the spring, Klain was under pressure to leave the administration from outside allies, especially after Build Back Better flopped and the West Wing’s relationship with Joe Manchin seemed dead. Klain never capitulated, however, and Biden remained steadfastly loyal. In the process, Klain helped rewrite the narrative of Biden’s first term, in addition to the talking points about his own tenure as C.O.S., via a string of legislative victories, a Democratic Senate hold, and surprisingly minimal losses in the House.
It was a remarkable turn of events. Klain, in fact, now seems undecided about when his tenure will end. “I’m sure my time will come, it always does,” he told the Wall Street Journal last week, in elegant Washington-speak. “But—and it is exhausting, but I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve.”