How Daley will help Obama
Obama may have told a 60 Minutes interviewer that he "did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of fat cat bankers on Wall Street." But there is one banker he will be helping out after all. William Daley, a J.P. Morgan executive and former commerce secretary during the Clinton administration, was named Obama's chief of staff Thursday, ending months of speculation about who would take over the powerful administration post.
Now that Daley has been named to the job, Obama's decision will be hailed as a smart move by some and criticized loudly by others. Daley, who advocates a center-left, moderate approach to politics, has close ties to corporations that could help Obama repair his anti-business image as he gears up for reelection. But it's also likely to anger those on the left who simultaneously feel Obama is far too close to Wall Street.
Whether he intended to or not, Obama did more in selecting Daley than appease moderate businessmen or tick off frustrated liberals. More important, he selected someone who is not just like him. As with any chief executive deciding on an operations chief, it was critical for Obama to pick someone with qualities that fill in his own personal gaps, complementing both his strengths and his weaknesses.
Daley appears to do that in spades. At 62, he has the gravitas and experience that critics have said the Obama administration is lacking; he is often complemented as an "adult" and a "grownup." Obviously, he has close ties to business--he has led Amalgamated Bank, been vice chairman of boutique investment firm Evercore Capital Partners, and served as president of SBC, in addition to his recent years at J.P. Morgan--while Obama's relationship with the private sector has been strained. And he will give centrist, moderate credibility to Republican and independent voters who see the president as too left leaning.
Perhaps most interesting is that he is an outsider to an administration criticized for being too insular. He's been public about having issues with some of Obama's most important new policies, including financial reform--while at J.P Morgan, he reportedly rebuffed the White House's request for support of the law's Consumer Financial Protection Bureau--and health care, about which he told The New York Times the administration "miscalculated." Obama's willingness to bring in someone at such a high level who has disagreed with him lends credence to the idea that the president is listening to divergent viewpoints and including people in his inner circle with whom he doesn't always see eye to eye.
While the vice president may be the second-in-command (and Obama clearly looked for complementary strengths and areas of expertise, such as age and foreign policy smarts, in choosing Joe Biden), it is the chief of staff who manages the day-to-day workings of the White House. Daley's ties to business, his centrist politics and, perhaps most important, his age and gravitas, should go a long way to helping Obama answer critics about his weaknesses. That is, as long as he keeps letting Daley disagree with him.
January 6, 2011; 4:33 PM ET |
Federal government leadership
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