Daley: Dems 'Have To Look More Conservative'

Saturday, 08 Jan 2011 01:15 PM

By Theodore Kettle

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Newly named White House chief of staff and member of Chicago's legendary political dynasty William Daley, a moderate Clinton administration veteran, is purportedly being brought in by President Barack Obama to mend fences with American business.

But the former commerce secretary once anonymously told the late political reporter extraordinaire and CNN commentator Robert Novak something that might indicate his new job is actually all about appearances.

In his lengthy autobiography, "The Prince of Darkness," Novak revealed the name of the "well-placed Democratic leader" featured in his column who in the aftermath of what Novak called the "unusually predictive" November 1993 off-year elections -- in which Republicans won the New Jersey and Virginia governorships, as well as the New York City mayoralty -- accused both President Bill Clinton and the then-Democratic-controlled Congress of rank political incompetence. It was none other than Bill Daley.

"I'm afraid the Reagan coalition is forming again after we took it apart last year because we don't know what we're doing," Daley told Novak. "Last year" refers to Clinton's defeat of incumbent President George H.W. Bush in 1992.

"Our people in Congress," Daley added, "and, I'm afraid, in the White House, don't have a clue. We have to look more conservative."

Could it be that Daley has been brought into the White House at a low point for Democrats to make Obama "look more conservative"?

That Daley, of all people, would be tappedto manage an African-American president's White House is remarkable considering another revelation in Novak's book, made much of on Thursday by Politico reporter Ben Smith.

Smith told his readers of how Novak "outed Daley in his memoir (page 451) as the anonymous Midwestern Democratic source of an incendiary remark on Michael Dukakis's failed attempt to keep Jesse Jackson's profile low at the 1988 Democratic convention."

Daley expressed "concern about the mood conveyed by Atlanta," which was where the party's convention was held that year. "For those of us who watched television, what they saw looked like a black party," Daley said in an unattributed quote.

Novak described Jackson's appearance at the convention in his Evans-Novak column as a "triumphal address" that mentioned party presidential nominee Dukakis "only in passing."

Reflecting on the episode nearly 20 years later, Novak wrote that "Dukakis had to prevent black activist Jesse Jackson -- his last remaining primary opponent -- from taking over the convention. He tried, but failed."

Daley is a prominent Democratic leader who in 1988 complained about the hazards of appearing to be "a black party." In 2011 the same man will be in charge of changing the fortunes of a black Democratic president.

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