William Daley, the former White House chief of staff, has just dropped out of the running for governor of Illinois. You’re forgiven if his campaign hadn’t even registered on your radar screen yet—his candidacy, against incumbent Governor Pat Quinn, lasted all of seven weeks.
It looks like President Obama really has found his inner Harry Truman, at least for the moment. On Thursday, Obama travelled to Holland, Michigan, to speak at a factory that manufactures batteries for electric cars. And, at least by Obama’s standards, the rhetoric was unusually combative, as he attacked Congress repeatedly for blocking his economic agenda: "There are some in Congress right now who would rather see their opponents lose than see America win," Obama said. The substantive focus was different, too.
When President Obama appointed William Daley as the new White House chief of staff, a great cry of relief was heard in the land, especially those parts of the land that happen to be corporate boardrooms. “His moderate views and Wall Street credentials,” reported The Washington Post, “make him an unexpected choice for a president who has railed against corporate irresponsibility and tried, with limited success, to appease restive liberals who think he has not been tough enough on bankers.” “All of these are excellent, pro-business moves,” enthused Fred Smith, CEO of FedEx.
[Guest post by James Downie] Most of the media attention on Bill Daley’s corporate ties has focused on his time as a JP Morgan executive, but his record at his prior job, as president of SBC Communications, is perhaps more worrisome. Hired as the company’s president in late 2001, after chairing Al Gore’s presidential campaign, Daley told The New York Times, “[P]olitics is not something I will be involved in other than as a citizen voting.” But as the trade journal Telephony wrote: The Bell company has lousy relationships with many state regulators and little Democratic support in Congress.
Multiple media outlets are reporting that President Obama today will name William Daley as his new chief of staff, which means I've missed my chance to weigh in on him. Both Jon Chait and Ezra Klein have expressed misgivings about Daley and I share them.
Most political activists can point to one catalyzing event, an episode in each of their lives (or, more often, in the life of their country) that shook them from their complacency and roused them to change the world. You can find many such stories if you troll through the netroots, the online community of liberal bloggers that has quickly become a formidable constituency in Democratic politics. But the episode that seems to come up most often is the Florida recount.