The abrupt departure of Bill Daley, President Barack Obama’s third White House chief of staff, reflects what pundits say is a highly politicized White House that is focused on only one objective: winning re-election in November.
“It’s now totally a political operation — only politics,” Democratic pollster and Fox News analyst Doug Schoen tells Newsmax. “Everything else, and everyone else, takes second fiddle. Everyone and everything is expendable, when re-election is at stake.”
Obama asked Daley to reconsider when informed of his decision to leave the White House last week. On Monday, Daley informed him he’d made up his mind — and, by some accounts, Obama was stunned.
After all, it was only one year ago that Daley, who was Commerce secretary under former President Bill Clinton, was brought in to build bridges with congressional Republicans and mend fences with a business community already alarmed by the widespread exodus of other key members of the president’s economic team.
Now, it appears that Daley, whose resignation takes effect Jan. 31, will go down as just another figure passing through the rapidly revolving door that is the Obama administration.
Obama’s first chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, left to run for mayor of Chicago, and he succeeded in that endeavor. Interim chief of staff Pete Rouse stepped down when Daley’s appointment was announced last January.
According to veteran journalist and author John Fund, it was only a matter of time before Daley followed suit, after crossing swords with those close to Obama’s inner circle.
“Bill Daley clearly has been cut out of the loop,” Fund tells Newsmax. Campaign manager David Axelrod and senior Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett “are running the White House.” Fund said. “Obviously, Daley just decided, ‘I’m leaving.’ I mean, he wasn’t fired. He left.”
The news that Obama would name budget director Jack Lew as his fourth chief of staff in three years triggered speculation as to what caused Daley’s sudden departure. As recently as October, Daley had said he was committed to remaining with Obama until after the November elections. But his departure at the end of this month is part of a pattern.
“The people who’ve left violated one of two cardinal sins, or both,” Fund said. “The first cardinal sin is you cannot push Obama enough to the middle to actually enable him to connect with the American people or capture the center. So that was Bill Daley’s fault.
“The second thing that goes wrong,” he said, “is you challenge either Valerie Jarrett, David Axelrod, or Michelle Obama . . . In other words, this is a very small politburo. And if you challenge anyone in the politburo, and you’re not on the inside of the inside of the ring, you’re eventually going to lose. You’ll lose power and be forced out.”
A variety of high-profile officials have left the administration under various circumstances, including:
- White House green jobs czar Van Jones, who became an embarrassment after his name was found on a 9/11 Truther petition.
- White House Communications Director Anita Dunn, who took the lead in the Obama administration’s attack on Fox News. She identified Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong as one of her “favorite political philosophers.”
- National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones, who commonly referred to top administration officials, including former Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, and top political adviser David Axelrod, as "waterbugs" and "the mafia."
- Stanley A. McChrystal, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, who was replaced after he criticized the administration’s policies in a controversial Rolling Stone article.
- Senior presidential adviser Larry Summers, who returned to Harvard after the nearly $1 trillion in stimulus spending he supported failed to stop rising unemployment.
- Former economics adviser Christina Romer, who made the ill-fated prediction that unemployment would never rise above 8 percent.
- White House Budget Director Peter Orszag, who announced his exit from the administration in June 2010.
- Austan Goolsbee, chairman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers, who helped craft the ill-fated stimulus but later said the administration should have asked for even more money. Like many former economic advisers in the administration, Goolsbee returned to a job in academia.
- Steven Rattner, the special adviser who orchestrated the bailout of Detroit auto makers. He later left and paid $6.2 million in penalties, unrelated to his White House role, to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission without admitting or denying any wrongdoing.
- Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Former President George W. Bush originally appointed Gates to the position. His departure had long been expected and he left on good terms.
Glenn Thrush of Politico reported on Monday that Daley had struggled in hyper-partisan Washington because he “had no intuitive feel for the insular circle of close advisers the president surrounds himself with.”
The president’s uncertainty about the role his chief of staff should play “remains a serious problem," Thrush added.
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