Political Buzz January 6, 2011: Obama Names Bill Daley his New Chief of Staff

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

William Daley is a banker and seasoned political fighter who worked in the Clinton administration. William Daley is a banker and seasoned political fighter who worked in the Clinton administration. (Win Mcnamee/Getty Images)

THE HEADLINES….

  • Obama chooses William Daley as chief of staff: President Barack Obama named veteran political manager William Daley to be his new chief of staff Thursday, selecting a centrist with Wall Street ties to help navigate a newly divided Congress and a looming re-election.
    “Few Americans can boast the breadth of experience that Bill brings to this job,” Obama told reporters in the East Room as Daley, 62, stood at his side.
    “But most of all, I know Bill to be somebody who cares deeply about this country, believes in its promise, and considers no calling higher and more important than serving the American people,” the president said.
    The appointment represented the most significant move in a far-reaching and ongoing staff shakeup that included the departure of Obama’s press secretary and several key deputies and economic advisers. It came the day after Republicans officially assumed control of the House and increased their numbers in the Senate…. – AP, 1-6-11
  • Business Background Defines Chief of Staff: He is a top executive at JPMorgan Chase, where he is paid as much as $5 million a year and supervises the Washington lobbying efforts for the nation’s second-largest bank. William M. Daley also serves on the board of directors at Boeing, the giant defense contractor, and Abbott Laboratories, the global drug company, which has billions of dollars at stake in the overhaul of the health care system. And now, Mr. Daley, a longtime Illinois political operative, will hold one of the most powerful jobs in Washington: chief of staff in the White House, where he will help decide who gets access to the Oval Office and what President Obama’s Capitol Hill agenda should be. The recruitment of Mr. Daley to Pennsylvania Avenue from the corporate board room is seen as a savvy step by some in Washington, who argue that Mr. Obama has long needed a White House confidant who has the ear of the business community and a record of bipartisanship that might help the president negotiate with Republicans on Capitol Hill…. – NYT, 1-6-11
  • In Daley, Obama gets change, not continuity President Obama has selected former Commerce Secretary William Daley as his new Chief of Staff: By all outward appearances, the appointment of William Daley on Thursday as White House chief of staff is a total inside job. In reality, it’s anything but, signaling another significant step in the post-election evolution of President Obama.
    The chain of events reads like this: Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley announces he will not run for reelection. Rahm Emanuel resigns as White House chief of staff to run for Daley’s job. Obama picks Daley’s younger brother, Bill, to succeed Emanuel. Neat and tidy. One Chicagoan for another. All in the family.
    In fact, in tapping Daley, Obama has begun to reach outside his comfort zone. Although he and Daley have known each other for years, they have not had a close relationship. Daley may have been an occasional resource for advice but hardly the kind of confidant that Obama’s other Chicago advisers – Emanuel, David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett – have been. Daley has had a far longer relationship with Vice President Biden than with the president.
    In a White House where most of the top jobs have been held by people who went through the fires of the election with Obama, Daley’s arrival can provide a circuit breaker to normal operations. All White Houses are insular, and Obama’s has been no exception. Although the president and Daley share a Chicago connection, Daley is clearly an outsider to Obama’s world and therefore someone who can see the presidency and the operation with fresh eyes…. – WaPo, 1-6-11

QUOTES

President Barack Obama Welcomes New White House Chief of Staff William DaleyPresident Barack Obama welcomes new White House Chief of Staff William Daley, left, during a statement in the East Room of the White House, Jan. 6, 2011. Pete Rouse, who served as interim Chief of Staff, is at right. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

  • Text Obama’s Remarks Introducing His New Chief of Staff: Following is a text of the remarks made on Thursday by President Obama and his newly selected chief of staff, William M. Daley, as released by the White House…. – NYT, 1-6-11
  • President Obama Announces Bill Daley as Chief of Staff: As part of that process, today I am proud to announce the appointment of an experienced public servant, a devoted patriot, my friend, fellow Chicagoan Bill Daley, to serve as my Chief of Staff. (Applause.)
    Few Americans can boast the breadth of experience that Bill brings to this job. He served as a member of President Clinton’s Cabinet as Commerce Secretary. He took on several other important duties over the years on behalf of our country. He’s led major corporations. He possesses a deep understanding of how jobs are created and how to grow our economy. And needless to say, Bill also has a smidgen of awareness of how our system of government and politics works. You might say it is a genetic trait. (Laughter.)
    But most of all, I know Bill to be somebody who cares deeply about this country, believes in its promise and considers no calling higher and more important than serving the American people. He will bring his tremendous experience, his strong values and forward-looking vision to this White House. I’m convinced that he’ll help us in our mission of growing our economy and moving America forward. And I very much look forward to working with Bill in the years to come…. – WH, 1-6-11TranscriptMp4Mp3

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Obama’s Choice Of Daley Fits Mold For Embattled Presidents Bringing in an outside critic to run his operation might help change the narrative of the presidency: “He reflected the more moderate wing of the GOP that felt Reagan had gone too far in his budgetary policies that were busting the deficit,” Julian Zelizer, an expert on American political history and professor at Princeton University, wrote in an email. “In this case, the criticism [Baker had made of Reagan’s policies] was in some ways a positive for his later appointment as chief of staff since it signaled that Reagan had moderated his views by bringing in someone who held different perspectives into his inner circle.”
    “Clinton was turning to someone who was corporate, pragmatic, centrist—to signal his move to the center, and actually get there effectively,” says Gil Troy, an expert on the American presidency who teaches history at McGill University.
    “Daley is a Democratic centrist who believes that the center is where his party can thrive and win,” says Chester Pach, a history professor at Ohio University who has written histories of the Nixon, Reagan, and Lyndon Johnson presidencies. “It seems as if Obama has similar views. Maybe he’s come to that conclusion only since Nov. 2.” – Newsweek, 1-6-11
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