Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Hope and Change?

You like your news straight?

Obama has been mulling for months the possibility of naming former commerce secretary William Daley to be his chief of staff, meeting with him at least once in person, two Democrats said. Although familiar with the Daley family - William is the brother of Chicago Mayor Richard Daley - Obama did not have a personal relationship with William Daley and wanted to get to know him better. The secret has been tightly held, without as much as a mention in senior staff meetings, an administration official said. The official, like others cited in this report, asked not to be named in order to speak freely about private deliberations.

But it is only part of a potentially much larger reorganization that encompasses almost the entire West Wing hierarchy, including those who have had the most influence over the administration's direction in its first two years.

Among the biggest changes could be the departure of press secretary Robert Gibbs , who is said to be exploring the possibility of leaving the White House altogether, perhaps to set up his own consulting shop and play a leading role in the 2012 campaign, two Democrats said. That move could happen in the coming weeks.

The shifts are more complicated than simply redrawing the bureaucratic organizational chart, however: They involve avoiding personality conflicts at the highest levels and meeting a desire to add more - or at least keep the current levels of - diversity. Yet of the roughly eight positions in play, nearly all of them are likely to go to officials already at work in the West Wing or to former campaign loyalists, leaving an already insular administration without much new blood.

Or with a twist?

In an obvious effort to broaden the representation of Chicagoans and former Clinton aides in his administration, President Obama has reportedly begun talks to bring William Daley into the White House as a top assistant, possibly even as chief of staff.

Obama's first chief of staff was Rahm Emanuel, a former House member from Chicago's North Side who has returned to Chicago to become mayor.

He can do this because Richard M. Daley, the brother of William Daley, has decided to retire this winter from his City Hall political throne where he's run the Windy City's vaunted Democratic machine for a generation, or about as long as Richard J. Daley, the father of Richard M. and William.

Neither of the Richard Daleys nor William Daley should be confused with Valerie Jarrett, who was City Hall chief of staff for Richard M. and once hired Michelle Robinson as an aide. She....

...went on to become Michelle Obama and then first lady of the United States and hired her Chicago friend and fundraiser Desiree Rogers as social secretary before leading Chicago's delegation to Copenhagen to not capture the 2016 Olympics.

Rogers, however, comes from a different faction of the Chicago party than Jarrett, so she eventually had to go. But everyone should know that it wasn't Rogers' screw-up over letting into the Obamas' first state dinner that annoying Salahi couple, who are luckily not from Chicago or they might have trouble with garbage collection, among other city services.

Another top Obama aide, David Axelrod, is also from Chicago.

He covered this crowd for the Tribune there before entering political consulting and helping elect many Democrats all over. But Axelrod did not help Rod Blagojevich, the impeached Illinois Democratic governor whose father-in-law is a powerful city alderman and who used to hold the North Side House district that Emanuel inherited. Axelrod, who's already begun planning Obama's reelection campaign, will return to Chicago in time for the Sox opener.

Incredible. Or is it? Hiring yet another Chicago machine pol may seem hopelessly tone-deaf on the surface but it is just business as usual for a most business as usual administration. After all, he won. And now he can concentrate on other things.

The heavy-lifting of the Chrysler and GM bankruptcy cramdowns, Porkulus and his crown jewel, ObamaCare, are out of the way so his schedule is freed up for some budget fights with Congress, pandering to the latino vote (which might actually help his bipartisan street cred) by re-starting the DREAM Act and gearing up for the 2012 presidential election.

It's good to be the King.

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