Monday, January 9, 2012

Course Correction

The Daley family of Chicago is a curious bunch. Democrats on paper, they surely have a lot of attributes that trend Republican. Obama's Chief of Staff Bill Daley, brother of the ex mayor, corporate insider supreme, has his fingerprints all over the recent Obama malaise. The man responsible for Obama's counterproductive strategy of trying to compromise with the GOP is heading back to Chicago. As a person who is puzzled to distraction as to why Obama tries to compromise with people that only want him to fail, this is not unwelcome news.

Hiring Bill Daley as chief of staff may not have been the biggest mistake of President Obama’s first term, but it was surely the most obvious one. Now he appears to be reversing it. The official line is that Daley is not being demoted, he is merely handing off more of the day-to-day responsibilities of managing the presidency to Pete Rouse. But, of course, managing the day-to-day traffic in the White House is the entire source of the chief of staff’s power. All accountssuggest Daley performed the mechanics of his job in a catastrophically bad way.

When Daley does get involved, he leaves progressives wishing he'd stuck to his laissez-faire approach. Democrats have taken issue with Daley for cozying up to Republicans and conceding too much, too soon, in negotiations with them. He routinely reminds GOP leaders how his business background colors his politics, trying to get across the message that he's not so different from them. "He constantly feels the need to tell [House Speaker John] Boehner and [Majority Leader Eric] Cantor that he agrees with us on regulations," said one House Republican aide. "It's almost an obsession."

Republicans believed that making bipartisan agreements with Obama would make Obama and his agenda more popular. Republicans are not in the business of helping Obama win reelection. And so they refused to sign a bipartisan agreement, and Obama simply looked weak and ineffectual.

Since that debacle, Obama issued a course correction and started pursuing a strategy that’s in line with the realities of public opinion and the Congress, as opposed to Daley’s fantasy version thereof. Recognizing public populism and GOP intransigence, he is outlining the legislation he wants on jobs, under no illusion that Republicans will cooperate, in order to clarify which party is responsible for inaction. 

Read more:     Daley's Demotion      New York Magazine
Read more:     Daley Resigns      NY Times
Read more:     Daley Leaves Democrats Longing for Emanuel     Jennifer Bendery