Another Step in the Wrong Direction (January 10, 2011)

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Ever since the November 2010 mid-term election “shellacking” of the Democratic Party, an outcome that many viewed as a direct rebuke of the Obama administration, it has been clear that Team Barry is direly in need of a leadership shakeup. When we learned just before Thanksgiving that White House senior advisor David Axelrod would be stepping down from his post, many on the Left breathed a collective sigh of relief. Axelrod may be a presidential campaign wunderkind, but to say he’s struggled with messaging for the sitting POTUS is something of an understatement.

On January 5th, we were informed that press secretary Robert Gibbs would also be making his way toward the exit. CNN may wish to wax nostalgically that “Gibbs had an easy, joking relationship with the press,” however the party’s base can still recall with cringing clarity the head spokesman’s bungling of the health care messaging war, the PR debacle that was the Gulf Oil Spill, and countless other instances in which the Obama staffer struggled to find his verbal footing.

But the first of Obama’s major players to announce his departure, way back in September of last year, was chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel. Off to take a crack at replacing longtime Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, “Rahmbo,” as Mr. Emmanuel is affectionately or scornfully known, left in his wake months of speculation as to who would replace the President’s top bulldog.

This week the nation received an answer to that question. Bill Daley, former President Clinton’s commerce secretary, has accepted the call to micromanage the remaining two years of Obama’s term.

Um, excuse me? Let’s leave aside for a second the incestuous implications of swapping Rahm Emmanuel, the Chicago mayoral hopeful, for the brother of the current Windy City chief. That’s just Chicago politics as usual, playing out on a larger, national stage. Anyone who believes that Rahmbo presents a realistic break from machine politics in the Midwest would do well to remember that the man was a 5th district congressman from Illinois for nearly six years. He knows from arm twisting and patronage.

But Bill Daley? Are you serious? For those of us sitting on the middle left of the political spectrum, this is yet another devastating blow to the President’s once shining promise of change, to be the end of Washington politics as usual.

Behold the following headline accompanying a January 7th Crain’s Chicago Business report of the appointment: “Business Applauds Bill Daley’s New Role on White House Center Stage.” You bet it does. There is no Democrat alive lying more snugly in the cash-lined pockets of Corporate America than Bill Daley. The story goes on to assert “With one flourish, President Barack Obama turned around the perception that the White House is anti-business, set the stage for better relations with a Republican-dominated Congress and steered his administration back toward the independent voters he’ll need to get re-elected next year.”

I know I sound like a broken record at this point, but the query bears repeating. Was there ever a time when the Obama administration was actually “anti-business?” Because it was difficult to see the intolerance what with all the TARP money raining down on Wall Street and the Detroit automakers, the BP-led, agonizingly slow response to the Deep Water Horizon well explosion of last summer, the castrated, insurance company-friendly version of the health care overhaul, and last month’s deficit-expanding reduction in payroll taxes. With enemies like President Obama, does the business community require any more friends?

I realize this subject is also tiresome for the Capitol Hill/Big Business consortium, but the bottom is still falling out for the country’s once thriving middle class. Where is the appointment that demonstrates a commitment to bettering the lives of everyday citizens? With home prices continuing to fall, an “improving” job market that replaces stable, permanent positions and benefits with part-time and contract work, and the availability of credit more than out of reach for many, what message does Bill Daley’s nomination send to the Average American?

In a nut shell, we had better be prepared to bend over a little farther, do with a little less, sacrifice a little more, so that, by all means, the business community gets the consideration it needs to feel better about hiring us again. Those record setting profits just don’t cut it the way they used to.

It is after all, Bill Daley that we must largely thank for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), better known as the 1990s launch of Offshoreapalooza.

The Daley family may brand themselves as Chicago Democratic royalty, but neither of its two most famous brothers should be considered men of the people. The party affiliation they claim is arbitrary, because the only real party they align with is the Daley Machine, set in motion by their ubiquitous father, Richard J. Daley. Dick Sr. ran the Windy City as a personal playground for he and his most loyal cronies for a span of 21 years, between 1955 to 1976. He taught his sons well, and for the past two decades (1989 – present), Dick Jr. has plundered the City coffers in inventive ways that would have made his corrupt father proud.

While Richard M. has been content to confine his corrosive influence to one town, Bill has been a bit more ambitious and will now serve out his second appointment under a sitting Democratic President. If you liked NAFTA, just wait to see what sort of influence Daley will have in an environment where Big Business is repeatedly allowed to present itself as a modern-day martyr at the altar of a leader with a “socialist” agenda.

Considering that Bill Daley will have to vacate his post as the Midwest chairman of J. P. Morgan Chase, and will relinquish his seats on the boards of major companies including Abbott Laboratories, Boeing and Merck, I think it’s safe to conclude his loyalties will not be residing with the 9.4% percent of Americans desperately looking for work. But what about you Mr. President?

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