Changing His Chief of Staff Can't Solve Obama's Larger Problem

Bill Daley was unable to temper the left wing policy drift coming out of the White House.


The fixer is on his way out.

White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley, whom President Barack Obama had hoped would add a degree of adult supervision to the West Wing will be leaving even sooner then expected.

[Check out our editorial cartoons on President Obama.]

A Clinton cabinet member, the outgoing chief of staff is a member of Chicago's powerful and politically influential Daley family. His appointment to the second most important job in the executive branch was widely seen as an olive branch to the business community when he was appointed. He made a valiant effort but Daley was unable to temper the left wing policy drift coming out of the White House, leading first to a demotion of his responsibilities and, ultimately, to his resignation which was announced Monday.

His replacement, White House Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew, is cut from the same bolt of cloth as Daley—and is likewise a veteran of the Clinton administration—but the odds that he will be able to put a moderate stamp on what Obama is trying to do are slim, especially in a year when senior Obama campaign officials have telegraphed that the president is going to pursue re-election strategy that writes off white, working class voters.

[Mary Kate Cary: Barack Obama's Rotating Campaign Themes]

The problem, it needs to be said, is not the White House staff. The problem is President Obama. The first truly urban Democrat to win the presidency since John F. Kennedy, Obama is not interested in triangulation or projecting a moderate image. He is a liberal's liberal, interested in beating up on the Republicans while pretending his policy initiatives are well within the mainstream. The president wants to grow government at the expense of the private economy. As long as Obama pursues a left-liberal agenda he will face opposition from much of the country. No amount of tempering by any White House chief of staff and no amount of tinkering around the edges among his senior advisers can alter that fact.

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