President Obama's New Chief of Staff

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Bill Daley, the Midwest chairman of JPMorgan Chase and former Clinton commerce secretary, will be President Obama's new chief of staff, according to White House press secretary Robert Gibbs. Pete Rouse, the interim chief of staff, will stay in the West Wing as a counselor to the President.

The choice, for one of the most powerful positions in Washington, is controversial. Daley's business experience could prove valuable as the White House seeks to mend its relationship with corporate America, and his centrist ideology could help the administration achieve bipartisan support for its initiatives in a period of divided government. But his work at JPMorgan (a recipient of federal assistance during the financial crisis), his role in drafting the North American Free Trade Agreement, and his critiques of Obama's health-care reform and consumer protection policies don't sit well with some on the left. Others claim Daley, the son and brother of Chicago mayors, is just another member of Obama's insular Chi-Town crew. 

How are commentators reacting to the appointment?

  • Obama Is Betting on the Economy and Good Relations With Business, states Marc Ambinder at National Journal: "Choosing Daley, a well-respected Washington figure, is a further signal that Obama ties the fate of his presidency to the fate of the economy and recognizes that his relationship with Congress will be much less helpful than a better rapport with the nation’s employers and job creators."
  • This Is a Turning Point for Obama the Politician, states Howard Fineman at The Huffington Post. "Daley's entry into the White House marks President Obama's transition from political outsider to insider, and from South Side Chicago liberal to Downtown Chicago (and Washington) survivalist powerbroker intent on winning another term as president, even if that means alienating the left wing of his party."
  • This Is a Strong Appointment, declares Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue, in a statement: "Bill Daley is a man of stature and extraordinary experience in government, business, trade negotiations, and global affairs. He's an accomplished manager and strong leader. We look forward to working with him to accelerate our recovery, grow the economy, create jobs, and tackle America’s global challenges."
  • It's a Dangerous Appointment, counters Paul Blumenthal at The Huffington Post. Picking Daley sends the message that "normal people" matter less to President Obama "than the continued flow of campaign donations from the uber-wealthy," Blumenthal charges, and Daley will "act as a stovepipe for the interests of Wall Street, as if bankers didn't have enough influence already."
  • I'm Not Too Worked Up, says Steve Benen at The Washington Monthly, even though as a liberal he disagrees with Daley's political instincts:

It's an open secret that [former White House Chief of Staff Rahm] Emanuel pleaded with Obama to forget about health care reform in 2009, insisting that the political investment wasn't worth the reward.

And as we know, the president ignored him, and pursued the priorities he wanted to pursue. Emanuel's instincts didn't get in the way of the best two years of progressive policymaking since LBJ.

  • Pick Strengthens Perception That Obama Governs From Far Left, argues Greg Sargent at The Washington Post: "There will be a fair amount of commentary to the effect that Obama has wisely received this message and is in the midst of a course correction. But here's the thing: Daley is wrong. Obama didn't govern from the 'left.' And as it happens, he did govern from the 'center left' ... Obama's approach to the crises he inherited were by any sane measure mostly moderate and reasonable."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.