Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Is life along the Chicago River really that much nicer than existence along the shores of the Potomac & Anacostia?

It seems that William Daley will leave Washington to return home to Chicago about a year earlier than originally expected.
DALEY: Coming  home

Daley has been the chief of staff to President Barack Obama ever since Rahm Emanuel gave up the job so he could actively campaign for Chicago mayor. But on Monday, it was made public that Daley will leave the post immediately – being replaced by budget Director Jack Lew (who has extensive experience in dealing with the Capitol Hill crowd).

WHICH ISN’T A surprise, in that Daley had always made it known that he did not want the post on a long-term basis. Although many of us were under the impression that Daley would complete Obama’s first term – and that Obama would be starting a second term (if he succeeds in the Nov. 6 general election) with yet another chief of staff.

Instead, Obama now gets his third chief of staff in his first presidential term. And the ideologues are going to claim that something is seriously screwy in Obama-land. Which kind of misses the point!

Because what I find intriguing about this maneuver is that Daley seems so eager to leave the post that likely will be the lede of his eventual obituary, as in, “One-time White House chief of staff William Daley died Monday from … “

Some of the reports coming from Washington on Monday indicate a restructuring of the White House staff last autumn that supposedly shifted some authority away from him, which would make this seem to be the actions of a political failure trying to cut his losses.

OTHERS INDICATE THE partisan hostility of Washington during the past year, where the Republican officials who are desperate to dump Obama are willing to do anything to avoid giving him anything that could be seen as an accomplishment.

It’s the old “Council Wars” mentality of an opposition willing to let government go to pieces, on the theory that the opposition will get blamed and they can try to “fix” things later.

It’s happening in Washington these days, and I’m convinced if the Republicans manage to get a majority in the Senate (while keeping their control of the House of Representatives) the level of intensity will get ratcheted up several notches.

Perhaps it really is the desire to avoid such partisan nonsense talk that is making the former mayor’s brother want to leave the District of Columbia to return to Illinois.

OR AT LEAST the far northeastern corner on the shores of Lake Michigan AND the Chicago River.

Then again, I’d hate to think that someone as experienced as the Daley with a background in city, state and federal government would be incapable of handling a political brawl. This is the man who helped run the legal fight that tried to get Al Gore's 2000 presidential hopes an Electoral College lead to go along with his popular vote margin of victory.

Particularly one that he should have seen coming when he took the post just over a year ago. Daley couldn’t have been naïve enough to think that a spirit of bipartisan cooperation was going to suddenly emerge between the president and Congress just because he arrived on the scene.

Could he?

ACTUALLY, I’M EXPECTING many of the Chicago-oriented members of the Obama Administration will soon be following Daley home. Part of it will be people who figure they got their White House experience and the “line of the resume” that it brings, and they can now move on with their lives.

I do believe that if there is a second “four-year term” for Barack Obama, it will be staffed by a lot of Washington-oriented operatives who will take a more traditional approach to federal government. Whether that is a good, or bad, thing is something that we can debate for years to come.

But it means that Daley will soon be back among us, pursuing his business interests and likely figuring a way to come out ahead of the pack. Nobody should be worrying about him, or the Daley family’s political influence (they still have brother John as a Cook County commissioner).

Maybe it really just comes back to how wonderful a place our city can be to live. Because personally, I’d rather be around the point where the Chicago River splits into north and south branches than where the Potomac River meets the Anacostia – no matter how much pleasure one might derive from doing “the peoples’ business.”


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