Timothy Noah

Morning Reading Assignment

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I've been wondering when I'd get a chance to read about how Bill Daley is screwing up as President Obama's chief of staff. Apparently, so has Daley. "A few months ago, [Daley] ... predicted that the first wave of negative stories about him would start popping sometime after the 'shitty' summer, according to an administration official." That's from a new Politico story by Glenn Thrush, John Bresnahan, and Amie Parnes. It's not a great story, but Politico doesn't really do great stories. It does so-so, hastily-reported versions of stories that everybody wants to read. (Not a terrible publishing strategy, given the pressures of the Web.) You have to read Politico's story because the great story has yet to be written. Maybe it's somewhere in Ron Suskind's new book.

The rap against Daley is that he's too isolated. His "brisk, officious closed-door corporate style" Politico says, "has soured some White House staffers who think he's pinching Obama's access to his own people, depriving him of a wider variety of opinions." That's interesting, because we've heard similar criticism of Obama's national security adviser, Tom Donilon, and especially of his deputy national security adviser, Denis McDonough. So maybe the faulty management style is Obama's, not Daley's. At any rate, it's worrying.

The main problem with the Politico piece is that its central example is Daley's mishandling of the scheduling of Obama's jobs bill speech. Obama wanted to give it in the House of Representatives on a Wednesday and Boehner said no dice, you have to give it on a Thursday. This somehow became a two-day story and a referendum on Obama's impotence and the House Republicans' incivility. I don't care about how Daley handled this trivial scheduling conflict. I care about how Daley advised Obama during the disastrously drawn-out debt-ceiling negotiations, in which Obama really did look impotent and the House Republicans looked not merely uncivil but bent on destroying the economy. But Politico has nothing on that except a passing reference to Daley cutting Senate leaders out of the loop during the negotiations.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid apparently called Obama to complain that Daley keeps him in the dark. That's interesting.

Anyway, you should read this piece because it's all we've got and Daley's management of the White House has until now been a weirdly unreported story.

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