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January 09, 2012 2:40 PM Daley to depart as WH Chief of Staff

By Steve Benen

Bill Daley’s tenure as White House chief of staff has proven to be more difficult than administration insiders had expected. When he was brought in, Daley, a former Commerce Secretary and banking executive, was supposed to help improve relations with Congress, set the stage for constructive negotiations with Republicans, and strengthen White House ties with business leaders.

It was practically a replay of the Clinton White House’s post-1994 strategy. It made a degree of sense that President Obama and his team brought in a leading Clinton guy to execute that strategy.

The effort didn’t go well. Congressional Democrats have found Daley hard to work with (Harry Reid, in particular, was known to have complained about Daley directly to the president); Republicans don’t want to negotiate with anyone about anything, and the White House has adopted a more combative tone overall.

In November, Daley’s responsibilities “shifted” and management of the day-to-day operations of the White House was given to Pete Rouse. In about a half-hour, the president will announce that Daley is taking the next step and leaving the West Wing altogether.

William Daley is stepping down as White House chief of staff and budget director Jack Lew is taking over the President Obama’s team as it heads into a tough election year, senior administration officials say.

Daley gave his letter of resignation to the president in a private meeting in the Oval Office last week, recounting the administration’s successes of his one year on the job and saying it was time for him to return to his hometown of Chicago.

The formal change won’t occur until later this month — after the State of the Union and OMB’s budget proposal — but since Daley hasn’t really been managing the West Wing anyway, this would appear to affect Lew far more than the current chief of staff.

As someone who was less than thrilled when Daley got the job, I’m not exactly sorry to hear the news. What’s more, I’ve liked Lew, and have no doubt he’ll be excellent in this role.

My larger concern is that Lew is a great OMB chief, and getting the Senate to confirm his replacement, whomever that may be, is going to be exceedingly unpleasant.

Regardless, I’m rather pleased with the news. The White House has been largely on the right track lately — payroll fight, mercury emissions, CFPB recess appointments, etc. — and Lew seems likely to help keep it that way.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.

Comments

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  • jjm on January 09, 2012 4:13 PM:

    Likely to be a good move.

    It looks to me that Daley was shocked by the unmitigated ferocity of Obama hatred among Republicans--they weren't interested in helping the country, or even helping business the way they used to. He must have gotten very tired of dealing with real monsters.

  • Jamie on January 09, 2012 4:31 PM:

    well I was pretty disappointed by Daley. But I'm not sure anyone else can do any better.

  • cat48 on January 09, 2012 4:51 PM:

    I think Lew will do fine. He has to deal with Congress all the time & he's well liked in Congress. Daley was not, especially by Dems.

    One of his first jobs was Policy Advisor to Speaker Tip O'Neill. Lot's of time working with both Chambers. It should go better now.

  • T2 on January 09, 2012 4:57 PM:

    Daley has been named co-chair of the Obama re-election campaign. Seems strange, given the high-five-ing that seems to be going on among Dems regarding his resignation as CoS.

  • chi res on January 09, 2012 6:10 PM:

    It looks to me that Daley was shocked by the unmitigated ferocity of Obama hatred among Republicans

    Growing up in Chicago's Bridgeport neighborhood, racism, no matter how sugar-coated, comes as no "shock" to any of the Daley clan.

  • TCinLA on January 09, 2012 6:11 PM:

    Don't let the door hit your ass on the way out, you @#$#@!! Daley PoS. Follow up with a long walk off a short pier in Lake Michigan. Please.

    At least Obama's finally figured out he needs actual Democrats running things, rather than DINO Clintonista traitors like this moron.

  • GCS on January 09, 2012 10:49 PM:

    Change is on the way!

    Having a Citigroup guy replace a JPMorgan guy is bound to make a big difference.

    How could this possibly go wrong?

  • tko on January 10, 2012 12:10 AM:

    "The White House has been largely on the right track lately"

    Yeah, too bad it took the election looming on the horizon to bring about this seismic shift from trying to emulate Ronald Reagan.

    As for Daley, I'm sure there will be a place for him at GE Capital or Citi now that he had his turn in the revolving door.

  • Cranky Observer on January 10, 2012 7:09 AM:

    > It looks to me that Daley was shocked by the
    > unmitigated ferocity of Obama hatred among
    > Republicans--they weren't interested in helping
    > the country, or even helping business the way
    > they used to. He must have gotten very tired
    > of dealing with real monsters.

    I suspect Daley was more shocked by the fact that there were and are Democrats, progressives, and liberals out there who don't think that the President they worked so hard to elect should be governing as a center-right Republican, and who were increasingly vocal and direct about saying so.

    Cranky

  • chi res on January 10, 2012 9:32 AM:

    I suspect Daley was more shocked...

    Yeah, because given his political education in Chicago, Daley probably knew nothing about intra-party politics. Probably never ever heard whiners from the left fringe before.

    Right.

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