Obama's Daley Blunder

You may recall when Hillary Clinton said the presidency is no place for on-the-job training. Three years into his term, Barack Obama seems to still be struggling to get up to speed, now having to replace his Chief of Staff, Bill Daley, to the surprise of most. Daley is deemed to have been the wrong man for the job. Also, Daley was not a first year choice, he replaced Rahm Emanuel only a year ago, suggesting that Obama was still making bad staff decision two years in.

The Washington Post’s Jena McGregor brings the bad news.

The revolving door at the White House is swinging again, and this time, Chief of Staff William Daley is on his way out. Many seemed to be taken off guard: Obama says it wasn’t easy news to hear. Others said official Washington was surprised by the news.

They shouldn’t have been. It seems painfully obvious that Daley was wrong in the role….

His departure calls into question Obama’s judgment when picking one of the key posts for his administration. While addressing the relationship with the business community and Republicans may have been an important task in late 2010, it wasn’t necessarily the right one for the president’s chief of staff. That post is, in effect, the White House’s chief operating officer–the person responsible for being the president’s most senior adviser and the person in charge of all West Wing administrative and operational matters.

Daley, considered of the moderate, Clinton-wing of the Democrat Party, was heralded as the right man for the job by Obama and the Democrats when he brought him in. Or, perhaps he felt he needed him to curry favor with Wall Street to raise cash for his coming re-election campaign. Whatever the reason, Daley never caught on and, for his job of governing America, Obama simply picked the wrong man. He couldn’t even get along with Harry Reid, let alone Republicans.


Critics of the appointment worry that it means Obama will favor business over consumers in the days ahead.

“Daley would act as a stovepipe for the interests of Wall Street, as if bankers didn’t have enough influence already,” says Paul Blumenthal of the Sunlight Foundation, a government watchdog group. The appointment “would plant an official emissary from Wall Street into one of the most important jobs in Washington.”

“It would be nice if one of these appointments didn’t have a Wall Street connection,” says Roger Hickey of the liberal group Campaign for America’s Future.

Daley’s background makes it clear that he’s squarely in the moderate wing of the Democratic Party. His appointment comes as the White House works to respond to voters who turned scores of Democrats out of Congress last fall and gave control of the House to Republicans.

One can read more about his replacement, Jack Lew, here. Unlike the moderate Daley, Lew cut his political teeth supporting McCarthy as a kid and is from the more liberal wing of the party. However, that didn’t prevent him from functioning as COO of a hedge fund that bet on the housing market collapse. As Obama’s revolving door for staff keeps swinging, perhaps he’ll get it right, eventually.

Lew grew up in New York City. As a 12-year-old, he campaigned for Eugene McCarthy in the 1968 presidential election. “It was also my introduction to seeing that you could make a difference in people’s lives through politics,” he told the New York Times in 1999.

Lew’s faculty adviser at Carleton College was Paul Wellstone, an outspoken liberal who eventually represented Minnesota in the U.S. Senate until dying in a 2002 plane crash. Lew graduated from Harvard and earned a law degree from Georgetown.

He worked as an aide to Rep. Joe Moakley (D-Mass.) from 1974 to 1975. He then was a senior policy adviser to House Speaker Thomas (Tip) P. O’Neill Jr. (D-Mass.) from 1979 to 1987. “I grew up in many ways on the Hill in Mr. O’Neill’s office,” Lew told the Times.

Lew worked at Citigroup from 2006 to 2009. The Huffington Post reported that in 2008, he served as chief operating officer of Citigroup Alternative Investments, investing in a hedge fund that bet on the housing market to collapse….


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