Is Obama taking a moderate course with Bill Daley trial balloon? 

Guess which conservative pundit wrote the following: “All that is required for the Democratic party to recover its political footing is to acknowledge that the agenda of the party’s most liberal supporters has not won the support of a majority of Americans—and, based on that recognition, to steer a more moderate course on the issues of the day, from health care to the economy to the environment to Afghanistan.”

 

Stumped? Well, it’s a trick question. Those words are from an opinion article in the December 24, 2009, Washington Post, under the byline of William M. Daley—the former Commerce Secretary and brother of the outgoing Mayor of Chicago who, rumor has it, may be Barack Obama’s next White House Chief of Staff. Daley’s article is well written and stands up pretty well a year and a couple of weeks later.

 

Would a Daley appointment mean Obey has decided on a more centrist course? It’s tempting to think so. But remember that departed Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, now a candidate for Daley’s brother’s job, also counseled a centrist course on health care. His advice was disregarded and that of former Speaker Nancy Pelosi was followed, but Obama was content to keep Emanuel on and there was no sign he was going to leave until Mayor Daley surprised everyone by announcing that he wouldn’t seek reelection. I take that as evidence that Obama is not necessarily guided by his chief of staff’s recommendations. But if the president does appoint Daley, some reporter might want to ask him whether that amounts to a confession of error.

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Michael Barone

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