Bill Daley

Some liberals shrugged at the legislation's defeat, but there could be serious consequences for those who opposed it.

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The Big Split

In May 2007, when Barack Obama was but an upstart challenger of Hillary Clinton, he attended a gathering of several dozen hedge fund managers hosted by Goldman Sachs at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It was not a fund-raiser, just a chance for Obama to introduce himself to the investment wizards who had helped turn the hedge fund sector into the most lucrative and alluring corner of the financial universe. And the first question for Obama was as blunt as one would expect from this crowd.

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I’m hardly the first to seize on the new Washington Post poll showing Obama’s continued struggles with independents. Heck, I’m not even the  first writer at this magazine to weigh in. But there’s a wrinkle of the story that’s received less attention, and so I think it’s worth piling on a bit more.  According to the Post’s write-up, and to many of the commentators who’ve kibitzed about it, Obama’s sudden retreat among independents—57 percent now disapprove of his handling of the economy—is mostly a function of rising gas prices.

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Obama’s Worst Year

Shortly after four o’clock on the afternoon of Wednesday, April 13, 2011, U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner walked down the hallway near his office toward a large conference room facing the building’s interior. He was accompanied by a retinue of counselors and aides. When they arrived in the room—known around Treasury simply as “the large”—four people were seated at a long walnut table on the side near the door.

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When President Obama announced that Bill Daley would no longer serve as White House chief of staff, he pronounced himself chagrined by the move but explained that Daley had an understandable desire to return to Chicago. “In the end,” the president told reporters in the State Dining Room, “the pull of the hometown we both love—a city that’s been synonymous with the Daley family for generations—was too great.” As a face-saving gesture this may have been understandable, but as an explanation for Daley’s departure it strains credulity.

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Just wanted to follow-up on yesterday’s Jack Lew post to clarify the point I was making: One common reaction to the Lew announcement, voiced by liberals like Salon’s Glenn Greenwald, is to groan that Obama has just replaced one former banker (Bill Daley) with another, as Lew spent two years at Citigroup before joining the administration in late 2008.  My feeling about this is twofold: First, liberals aren’t wrong to groan.

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Before we get to whether liberals will warm to Jack Lew, the incoming White House chief of staff, in a way they never did to his just-ousted predecessor, Bill Daley, it's worth pointing out that Lew is absolutely beloved by the president and the top West Wing operatives.

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Daley Departs

Two weeks ago I wondered whether Pete Rouse had Bill Daley, the chief of staff to President Obama who'd been disemboweled in November (ahem, I mean, relieved of some day-to-day duties so he could focus on the big picture) bound and gagged in the White House basement. If Rouse did, he let Daley out for a Christmas holiday in Chicago and Mexico with his children and grandchildren. When Daley came back he apparently took one look at the chair and the rope and the duct tape and decided this gig really wasn't for him. President Obama announced his resignation today.

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The Chicago Sun-Times reported earlier this week that White House chief of staff Bill Daley was unable to attend a Chicago-area memorial mass for his dad, onetime Chicago Mayor Richard Daley--not the one who just retired, but the one who told cops "Shoot to kill" when blacks rioted after Martin Luther King's assassination (though the elder Daley had his good points, too)--because Bill was "sidelined in Washington dealing with tax-cut legislation." That amazes me.

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Daley Death Watch

Bill Daley is clearly on his way out as White House chief of staff. The Wall Street Journal and Politico report that he's turning over his day-to-day duties to Pete Rouse, who was the interim chief of staff after Rahm Emmanuel left and is much better-liked by the White House staff and on Capitol Hill. Both publications say that Daley did himself a lot of damage in an Oct. 28 interview with Politico's Roger Simon. That was certainly my impression.

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