OFF TO A GOOD START….The future just keeps getting brighter for Barack Obama. Pete Rouse, chief of staff to outgoing Democratic Leader has just agreed to head up Obama’s Senate office, bringing instant credibility and invaluable institutional knowledge to the operation. And he also provides a connection to the new crop of leaders on the Democratic side–Rouse once served as incoming whip Dick Durbin’s CoS in the House.

A Hill veteran who started out answering constituent mail along with fellow legislative assistant Tom Daschle, Rouse is so well-respected for his political skills and knowledge that he’s often referred to as the 101st Senator. Obama will be fortunate to have Pete’s steady hand at the helm, particularly given the enormous expectations that will accompany him into office.

Pete used to hassle me after I left Daschle’s office for divinity school, asking me every time I came back, “So, have you learned to walk on water yet?” I would explain that, no, that came in the second semester; we learned to turn water into wine first. At the risk of ruining the gruff front he puts up, he’s not only one of the sharpest people I’ve ever worked with, but one of the sweetest as well. It’s good to see him land in a position that will make continued good use of his political ability. As for Obama, I think I speak for all Daschle alums when I say: Learn to love cats. Or at least talking about Pete’s cats. We’ve found cat-shaped sugar cookies to be well-received. Just saying…

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Amy Sullivan is a Chicago-based journalist who has written about religion, politics, and culture as a senior editor for Time, National Journal, and Yahoo. She was an editor at the Washington Monthly from 2004 to 2006.