Will President Obama Anger the Left Yet Again With Bill Daley?

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Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

That's the reaction among many political observers to the news that President Obama is considering former Commerce secretary and current JPMorgan Chase executive William Daley as his new chief of staff. Daley thought health-care reform was botched and is seen as a centrist. But while liberals may feel taken for granted once again if Daley is selected for the role, the business community would love it. If Obama makes the move, we'll know which constituency he's more concerned about going into his reelection. What else are pundits and reporters saying about the Daley speculation?

Noam Scheiber, New Republic:

One word of caution about this: Don't assume that it's chief of staff or bust for Daley—the artful phrasing is there for a reason.

For what it's worth, when I tried to run down the Daley as chief-of-staff rumors over the last few weeks, I was told the idea had run into various roadblocks, about which I won't say more since it was all second-hand. Around the same time, I heard a second rumor independently from a handful of administration sources: The White House was thinking about naming Gene Sperling to be Larry Summers's replacement at the NEC, while pairing the announcement with a new position for a high-profile executive who could act as a conduit between the president and the business community.

Lynn Sweet, Chicago Sun-Times:

There are a few reasons Daley is seen as a top choice by the Obama White House for the job, I hear. Daley has the complete skill set: He understands how Washington works; he ran the Gore campaign; he is a former Cabinet member; he could help the Obama administration improve relations with the business community as a hostile GOP-controlled House will be sworn in Wednesday. And perhaps most important, Daley could bring the Obama team a real sense of a defined mission in a political year.

Ben Smith, Politico:

Daley has a lot to distinguish him, but the thrust of the appointment would be this: If the party's liberal base didn't like Rahm Emanuel, it will hate Daley. Back in 2009, he was among the first prominent Democrats to call on Obama and his party to tack to the center, in a Washington Post op-ed that infuriated the left ... A Daley appointment would be an early signal of Obama's confidence that the party's left will ultimately have no choice but to show up and vote for him in 2012.

Allahpundit, Hot Air:

One: Obama’s relationship with Wall Street is still poisonous and his inner circle is famously lacking business experience, a point not lost on America’s CEOs. Daley’s appointment is an attempt to change that. Two: Obama’s inner circle is famously insular, with even Democrats starting to grumble about him expanding his horizons to deal with the new Republican House. Daley’s appointment is, er, not an attempt to change that.

David Frum, Twitter:

Do I have this straight: a Daley resigns to make room for Rahm, Rahm resigns to make room for another Daley, and nobody thinks this fishy?

Andrew Malcolm, Top of the Ticket/Los Angeles Times:

Enter William Daley, the 62-year-old executive with JP Morgan Chase & Co., who could help Obama repair frayed relations with the business community in time for 2012 fundraising. As Democrats go, Daley has a reputation as much more of a political centrist and pragmatist than the ex-state senator.

Ezra Klein, Washington Post:

The White House has felt the need for a CEO-type, and Daley is as close as any of the obvious candidates come. Among the arguments for him is that he can repair relations between the administration and business — but the cost of that private diplomacy will be the spectacle of a banker taking the top administrative job at the White House.

Jeremy Jacobs, Hotline on Call/National Journal:

Daley would be a shrewd choice, with his Chicago ties jibing well with Obama's preference for the familiar, while his business ties would help him build a necessary bridge to the business community. Obama is close to Daley — he was a campaign adviser from early on in the 2008 race.

But the selection of Daley to replace interim Chief of Staff Pete Rouse is sure to anger the left — just as his tapping Rahm Emanuel did after the 2008 election. Daley is a political mentor to Emanuel, another veteran of the Clinton administration and has deep ties to Chicago politics (his brother, Richard, is the mayor). So, Daley would not be the fresh, progressive blood in the White House that liberals have called for.

Anne E. Kornblut and Karen Tumulty, Washington Post:

[T]he introduction of Daley's name into the mix suggested that Obama's former chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, is still exerting influence over the White House even while running for mayor of Chicago, the Democrats said.

Michael D. Shear and Jeff Zeleny, Caucus/New York Times:

Mr. Daley, who has not responded to requests for comment, is also known to offer blunt advice and criticism. He thought the president and Democratic leaders in Congress overreached on some of their priorities in the last two years. “They miscalculated on health care,” Mr. Daley said in an interview last year with The New York Times. “The election of ’08 sent a message that after 30 years of center-right governing, we had moved to center left — not left.”

Marc Ambinder, National Journal:

It is not clear what strengths Obama believes Daley would bring to the job aside from his connections to Democrats and Wall Street and his general knowledge of Washington. One downside would be the perception that Obama remains stubbornly cocooned and comfortable only with a small coterie of longtime loyalists with Chicago connections. A Democrat who has been briefed by the White House said that Obama believes that he will exercise his power most effectively during the second half of his first term by building better relationships with American businesses, and concedes that few of his advisers currently draw respect from that community, so in that respect, Daley would be a plus.