But there is one change Bai detects: the president has hired a new staff less populated by politicians and those who’ve worked inside congress and more geared towards campaigning.
Now Mr. Obama seems inclined to turn his attention outward, toward the rest of the country. Mr. Daley might not know his way around all the labyrinthine passages of the Capitol, but he brings a campaign mind-set to the administration. He directed the successful White House effort to win approval for the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1993 and later ran Al Gore’s presidential campaign, fighting to the last hanging chad.
Klein, for his part, understands the Daley pick—the president is going for a strong résumé, someone who has done a similar job well before. But he questions whether choosing Daley and Sperling sends the best message. Rather than a campaign boon, they may prove a hindrance.
Daley, of course, spent much of the last decade as an executive at J.P. Morgan Chase. Sperling, for his part, received more than $800,000 from Goldman Sachs in return for helping them run an international charitable project aimed at helping women in developing countries run their own businesses. He also made hundreds of thousands of dollars giving speeches to other firms on Wall Street. Both picks have aroused ire among those who think the Obama administration is to close to the banks.
Finally, Greg Sargent at The Washington Post’s The Plum Line blog also focuses on the messaging aspect of Daley’s appointment, arguing that the problem with it is that it undermines much of what the president has achieved and argued for in his first two years. After first praising exactly those achievements, Sargent writes that hiring Daley—who has criticized things like the push for health care reform—is capitulating to unreasonable critics.
Republicans and conservatives have uniformly condemned the Obama administration as in the grip of unrepentant leftism run amok. Yet what’s actually happened is that in so doing, Republicans have moved to the right, and we’ve all agreed to move what we arbitrarily call the “center” to the right in order to accomodate this.
The pick of Daley, however, will reinforce the conventional narrative that Obama has recognized the error of his ultraliberal ways and has picked a “seasoned Beltway hand” to steer the adminstration back to the center. Obviously this is only one of many things to consider about the Daley pick, and there may be many other good reasons to pick him that outweigh this problem.