Dueling for Control: Onward and “Barackward” in the West Wing

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By: Jeffrey Klein, Political Buzz Examiner
Examiner.com

In a case of here we go again, President Barack Obama suffered the resignation of yet another key advisor last week–namely his Chief of Staff, William “Bill” Daley, who is the youngest son of legendary, long-time Chicago Mayor, Richard J. Daley.

Bill Daley is also the younger brother of recently retired Chicago Mayor, Richard M. Daley, who was replaced in January 2011 by newly elected Mayor Rahm Emanuel–Obama’s original Chief of Staff, who Bill Daley was chosen to replace.

A very cozy Chicago inner-circle.

Bill Daley was heralded as having a significant skill set that was not prevalent in the Obama administration, particularly big league private sector business experience, most recently as the Vice Chairman of J.P. Morgan, and equally important, a healthy Rolodex of relationships in both the business and political world, including Republicans.

And, Daley was no political featherweight, having served as President Clinton’s Secretary of Commerce, and VP Al Gore’s hard fought 2000 Presidential bid against former President George W. Bush.

The hope was that Daley could help the White House reconcile its’ relationship with the business community and the Republicans in Congress–a tall order, all things considered.

However, in November 2011, just ten months into Daley’s tenure, President Obama “transferred” numerous important duties from Daley, to a Senior Aide, Pete Rouse, which, according to Ben Feller’s Associated Press article, significantly “diminished” Daley’s responsibility level…and stature in the White House–no doubt prompting his resignation.

Daley’s replacement, is giving me cause to pause, because he is Jacob “Jack” Lew, who before this moment was Obama’s White House Office of Management and Budget Director–who hasn’t produced a product–at least one that was viable–in over 900 days–since Obama’s inauguration.

When interviewed by Politico’s Roger Simon at the end of October 2011, the exiting Obama Chief of Staff explained his “frustration” in the position.

“It’s been a brutal three years … It’s been a very, very difficult three years, an incredible three years. And we are doing all this under the overhang of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. F–k! It wasn’t like all this was happening in good times.”

Daley said that “on the domestic side, both Democrats and Republicans have really made it very difficult for the president to be anything like a chief executive. This has led to a kind of frustration,” according to Jake Tapper’s ABC News article today.

It is interesting that Daley’s monologue was exclusively “taking ownership” of the entire three years of Obama’s administration, even though he had only been in it barely a single year–as though the words were scripted for him as a limit to “what” little he was allowed to say about having held the most “intimate” with the President of the United States.

In my view, the intensity of emotion that Daley delivered during the Simon interview was in no way commensurate with the small volume and little meaning of the actual words that he used–kind of like watching a TV reporter repeatedly declaring … “It’s really cold out here!”—while he was prohibited from telling viewers it was being caused by “Nuclear Winter.”

Perhaps a recently released “tell-all” book by Jodi Kantor, titled “The Obamas,” can shed some light on an alternative reason for Daley’s departure–and maybe some of the other, recent numerous defections from the Obama administration.

In the book, based on a series of interviews with over 30 Obama administration aides, Kantor wrote that Michelle Obama had an intense distrust of former Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, according to a FOXNews article yesterday.

“Michelle and Rahm Emanuel had almost no bond; their relationship was distant and awkward from the beginning,” Kantor wrote.

The book portrays Mrs. Obama [as] wanting to influence West Wing policymaking, but struggled with Hillary Clinton’s legacy

During a recent interview with Chicago Magazine, Kantor was asked whether Mrs. Obama wanted to be an adviser to the president, and she ‘described’ her ‘interpretation’ of the first lady’s belief as … “In the most private, intimate sense [“yes”]–[but] not in the sense of ‘I’m coming to your senior staff meeting.'”

On Sunday, Obama adviser David Axelrod said … “when she [Michelle] thinks things have been mishandled or when things are off the track … she’ll raise it, because she’s hugely invested in him [Barack].”

But, according to Kantor’s book, White House aides found themselves in the middle of the Obama marriage regularly. “The advisers could feel hopelessly caught between husband and wife. The Obama marriage was awkward for everyone: for the aides, for the president … and for the first lady.”

The clever staff coined a term for this awkward position … “Barackward.”

Copyright (c) 2012 by Jeffrey Klein

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