Saturday, October 29, 2011

Canning Bill Daley

Joan Walsh, Catholic, Irish-American, and the accomplished journalist and fortunate San Franciscan (pardon the redundancy), is annoyed at the interview Obama chief-of-staff Bill Daley gave to Roger Simon of Politico. You gotta love this:

The Politico veteran relates that Daley used to keep an old “Help Wanted: No Irish Need Apply” sign in his Chicago law office, as a typical Daley reminder, in Simon’s words, “of where they came from and how far they have gotten.” Oh please. Sure, generations back Daley is said to be descended from famine Irish, but where Bill Daley came from is a place of privilege: He is the son of perhaps the most powerful mayor in America.

Daley is a Democratic version of George H.W. Bush as described by the late Ann Richards: someone born on third base who thinks he hit a triple. He used his family background and political connections to take part in today’s quintessential Democratic get-rich-quick scheme, corporate law and investment banking. It’s always shocked me how a certain type of affluent Irish Catholic can excuse his work on behalf of the wealthy as long as he has a “No Irish Need Apply” sign in his office, which puts him on the side of the underdogs. Daley is an overdog who represents the interests of overdogs.

Walsh cites, disapprovingly, the exchange between interviewer and interviewee:

And you can keep policy and politics separate? I ask.

“They can be separate, yeah,” Daley says. “You can say, ‘Look, this may be good policy, but the politics of it may be sh—.’”

And which will the president go for?

“He’ll try to find that middle ground,” Daley says in a bemused tone. “‘How close can we get to it being really sh—— policy or really sh—— politics but getting something accomplished?’”

It's one thing to be forthright and another thing to make the boss look bad. Recommending that Obama should "send him packing" (in the case of Daley, never a bad idea), the Salon editor argued that the chief of staff had "undermined Obama’s new populist, partisan message in his self-promoting interview."

He is (programmatically) populist and partisan intermittently, but if Obama was trying to channel Franklin Delano Roosevelt (video, or at least audio, below), he failed miserably when he told the Tonight's show Jay Leno

The American people feel like nobody’s looking out for them right now. Traditionally, what held this country together was this notion that if you work hard, if you’re playing by the rules, if you’re responsible, if you’re looking out for your family, you’re showing up for work everyday and doing a good job, you’ve got a chance to get ahead and succeed. Right now, it feels to people like the deck’s stacked against them, and the folks in power don’t seem to be paying attention to that.

If everybody’s tuned into that message — and we are working every single day to figure out how do we give people a fair shake, and everybody’s doing their fair share — then people won’t be occupying the streets, because they’ll have a job and they’ll feel like they’re able to get ahead. But right now they’re frustrated. Part of my job over the next year is to make sure, if they’re not seeing it out of Congress, at minimum they’re going to see in their president someone who’s fighting for them.

Republicans are justly unpopular, banks are justly unpopular, but as the President understands better than almost anyone, Congress is despised. And so Obama is hammering not congressional Republicans, but Congress in general; and not hammering, because with Barack Obama, there is no fire and brimstone. People "feel.... like the deck's stacked against them" because they believe they're not getting "a fair shake"- not because the federal government has been bought and paid for by the wealthy and privileged.

Never unreasonable, and provocative only to the easily offended, the President always is searching for that sweet spot in which he appears discontented like the electorate but inoffensive to Wall Street contributors. That, unfortunately, is someone who is quite comfortable with employees like Bill Dailey.

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