Various news agencies, including the New York Times, are reporting that President Obama has approached William Daley to fill the position of chief of staff in his administration. Daley is the brother of Chicago mayor Richard Daley, a former commerce secretary, Rahm Emanuel's mentor, and an investment banker.
While Mr. Obama and Mr. Daley have known one another for years, with Mr. Obama often turning to Mr. Daley for advice in the 2008 presidential campaign, associates said the men were not extraordinarily close. But hiring Mr. Daley, who served as Commerce Secretary under President Bill Clinton, would almost certainly improve icy relations between the Obama administration and business leaders.
Mr. Daley, who has not responded to requests for comment, is also known to offer blunt advice and criticism. He thought the president and Democratic leaders in Congress overreached on some of their priorities in the last two years.
"They miscalculated on health care," Mr. Daley said in an interview last year with The New York Times. "The election of ’08 sent a message that after 30 years of center-right governing, we had moved to center left — not left."
A decision to bring Mr. Daley into the heart of the administration could further annoy Mr. Obama’s liberal base, who frequently accused Mr. Emanuel of encouraging the president to compromise on liberal principles to achieve legislative goals.
Yes, it would. Because, a) investment bankers really just haven't had enough influence in our country's governance in the last decade; and b) anyone who thinks health insurance reform modeled on Mitt Romney's Massachussetts plan and negotiated with every major player in the healthcare industry is a liberal overreach might just be a tad out of touch with the Democratic base. And the majority of Democratic law-makers. And the large chunk of Americans who basically support the health insurance reform bill and think it wasn't liberal enough.
And did I mention that he's also a U.S. Chamber of Commerce insider?
From 2005 to 2007, he co-chaired a Chamber of Commerce committee on financial (de)regulation. The "Commission on the Regulation of Capital Markets in the 21st Century" eventually became the Chamber’s Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness, which played a prominent role in attacking derivatives regulation and consumer protections last year. The Hill called the group one of the "loudest voices on financial legislation" — and they weren’t exactly singing the praises of reform efforts.
Daley also signed on to a March 2009 Chamber manifesto on "Restoring Confidence in US Capital Markets," the Chamber’s opening PR move in the financial reform debate. The declaration, released two months after Daley co-chaired Obama’s inauguration, appears to have been taken down from the Chamber’s site, but is available here via the google monster. Most signatories were Republican, judging from campaign finance info on LittleSis.
So, yes, this appointment could greeted with some hostility in Mr. Obama's liberal base. It's possible that this is yet another trial balloon sent up by the administration. Let's hope so. The NYT article states that the acting chief of staff, Peter Rouse, could be asked to stay on
Update: A bit more from Sam Stein at HuffPo pointing to an April 7, 2010 Wall Street Journal article describing how Daley tried to get Emanuel to drop one of the key components of financial reform--the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau--because "sufficient consumer safeguards were already on the books."
This escalates Daley to beyond mere hippie-punching. It makes Obama look like some kind of masochist--this guy has engaged in Obama-punching, attacking two of the keystone efforts in the first two years of his administration. Strange.