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Posted at 4:51 PM ET, 01/ 7/2011

Matt Bai: No ideological shift

By Greg Sargent

Matt Bai breaks with the conventional wisdom, arguing that the William Daley pick does not portend an ideological shift on Obama's part:

[I]f the appointments of Mr. Daley and Mr. Sperling portend some kind of ideological break from where the Obama White House has been the last two years, then it isn't entirely clear how.

Mr. Daley's politics are essentially indistinguishable from those of the man he replaces, his fellow Chicagoan and protégé Rahm Emanuel (who, like Mr. Daley, got rich working for an investment bank). Both men are said to be pragmatists who care less about political theory than about getting things done, and progressives were never any happier with Mr. Emanuel than they are with the choice of his successor.

Similarly, Mr. Sperling, who worked for Goldman Sachs before joining the Obama administration, may fairly be called a centrist thinker, but he's certainly no more of a centrist than his immediate predecessor, Lawrence H. Summers, another veteran of the Clinton administration who also spent a profitable interlude on Wall Street.

In other words, if anything, this week's appointments would seem to represent a continuation of the ideological course Mr. Obama has been following since before he took the oath of office, rather than any substantive shift in his worldview.

This is, of course, another way of saying that Obama has not governed from the far left for the past two years, and has governed as a mainstream center-left liberal. It's true that Daley's chief critique of Obama has been that he's been in the grip of unrepentant radicalism, and it's true that he's long urged a more "centrist" course. But just because Obama hired Daley to run the White House doesn't necessarily mean that Obama agrees with that critique or that it has any basis in reality.

Indeed, as Bai points out, Daley if anything is likely to represent a continuation of Rahm's approach. Many on the left, of couirse, still see Rahm as the public face of the administration's willingness to trade away core liberal priorities in pursuit of the possible and its failure to imagine the possibility of true progressive transformation. So if Daley represents continuity in this regard, it's hard to see how anyone could argue that Obama governed from the left and has now enlisted Daley as a public act of contrition for his erstwhile ultraliberal excesses. Perhaps Daley will help "hit the reset button" on Obama's relations with the business community, but this doesn't mean any grand ideological shift is in the offing. The Daley pick has put Obama right where he's always been.

Bai isn't some whackjob liberal blogger and has plenty of moderate Dem cred, so it's good to hear him saying so.

By Greg Sargent  | January 7, 2011; 4:51 PM ET
Categories:  Political media, White House  
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Next: Happy Hour Roundup

Comments

"Perhaps Daley will help "hit the reset button" on Obama's relations with the business community..."

Why, is Peter Orzag disappointed with his Citi compensation package?

Are the jobs lined up for members of the administration at AIG not close enough to the boardroom?

Posted by: shrink2 | January 7, 2011 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Daley might be a really good competent manager that everyone can trust, end of story.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | January 7, 2011 5:02 PM | Report abuse

shrink, agreed, it's absurd, but it's worth making a distinction between "reseting relations" (as unnecessary as this should be) and "shifting ideologically."

Posted by: Greg Sargent | January 7, 2011 5:03 PM | Report abuse

wbgonne, what do you think about that?

Posted by: clawrence12 | January 7, 2011 5:05 PM | Report abuse

You can't apply McCarthyism techniques to everyone.

Not every lawyer is a blood sucker.

Not every banker is a thief.

And not every Republican is a gay man waiting to come out of the closet.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | January 7, 2011 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Say what! No idealogical shift. How can you say that, when Obama has replaced the Darling of all Left Wing activists with William Daley?

Firedoglake is not going to like this shift, because Rahm was their guy.

Posted by: Liam-still | January 7, 2011 5:08 PM | Report abuse

It seems to me that Mr Sargent and his liberal cohorts here have assumed that the Republicans some how lied to the American people
---------------------------------------------
Bwahahaha!!!!!!!!!

*Somehow* lied????? Another great understatement.

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | January 7, 2011 4:56 PM
.........................................................
You are going to love this.

From TPM.

Rep. Steve King Boasts Of GOP Leaders' 'Mendacity'

""As I deliberate and I listen to the gentleman from Tennessee, I have to make the point that when you challenge the mendacity of the leader or another member, there is an opportunity to rise to a point of order, there is an opportunity to make a motion to take the gentleman's words down, however many of the members are off on other endeavors and I would make the point that the leader and the speaker have established their integrity and their mendacity for years in this Congress and I don't believe it can be effectively challenged and those who do so actually cast aspersions on themselves by making wild accusations," King said."

Posted by: Liam-still | January 7, 2011 5:13 PM | Report abuse

"But just because Obama hired Daley to run the White House doesn't necessarily mean that Obama agrees with that critique or that it has any basis in reality."

Obama just likes to hire people who don't have a firm grip on reality!

Posted by: sbj3 | January 7, 2011 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Bai is right, but how is that going to change things? You still have the echo chamber that is the media yammering about "socialist policies of the Obama administration". The minute an average Joe hears "socialist" he will tune out anything that follows that portrays President Obama in a positive light.

Posted by: bushidollar | January 7, 2011 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Obama just likes to hire people who don't have a firm grip on reality!

Posted by: sbj3 | January 7, 2011 5:15 PM |
.......................

So when do you start your job with his administration?

Posted by: Liam-still | January 7, 2011 5:20 PM | Report abuse

While I agree that Gene Sperling isn't a fire-breathing liberal, one has to remember that he wrote a little book entitled "The Pro-Growth Progressive: An Economic Strategy for Shared Prosperity" back in 2005.

This book included support for policies such as:

*Social Security - Add a new 3% tax on all income above $200,000.

*Universal Pre-School and After-School programs.

*Reverse the Bush Tax cuts

*Increase the minimum wage

*Universal 401(k) accounts with a 2:1 tax credit incentive

I'd say he seems to have more progressive-cred than Summers did. I think pragmatism will reign, as is has for the past 2 years...but progressives shouldn't hear "Goldman Sachs" and immediately write the guy off. I think he could end up being a better voice for the left on economic issues than Summers was, even if only slightly.

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | January 7, 2011 5:24 PM | Report abuse

my assumption is wbgonne would wholeheartedly agree that Obama has never governed from the left...

Posted by: Greg Sargent | January 7, 2011 5:26 PM | Report abuse

OT but I'm reading this article about an ammo depot that wasn't secured in Iraq that was the source of tens of thousands of tons of explosives used by al qaeda and insurgence to kill our troops.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jan/07/iraq-weapons-factory-al-qaida-us-failure

Posted by: mikefromArlington | January 7, 2011 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Yes, but WoeBegone feels that Obama is the Perfect Tea Party President.

The Judean People's Front will not be the same, without him.

Posted by: Liam-still | January 7, 2011 5:28 PM | Report abuse

"Many on the left, of couirse, still see Rahm as the public face of the administration's willingness to trade away core liberal priorities in pursuit of the possible and its failure to imagine the possibility of true progressive transformation."


Many on the left apparently still believe the McCain campaign & Republican critics of President Obama, who actually campaigned from the center, and has governed from there as well. He is not and never has been the liberal idealogue that he's been portrayed as by both the left and the right.

Posted by: bsimon1 | January 7, 2011 5:28 PM | Report abuse

OT: "Drone may be coming to Miami-Dade"

http://www.wsvn.com/news/articles/local/21003198189967/

Posted by: sbj3 | January 7, 2011 5:30 PM | Report abuse

OT but I'm reading this article about an ammo depot that wasn't secured in Iraq that was the source of tens of thousands of tons of explosives used by al qaeda and insurgence to kill our troops.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jan/07/iraq-weapons-factory-al-qaida-us-failure

Posted by: mikefromArlington | January 7, 2011 5:28 PM |
.......................

In the words of Old Rummy; "war is messy, and stuff happens".

What do you want, soldiers deployed to guard ammo dumps, or deployed to pull down Saddam's statue. Where are your priorities man?

Guarding ammo dumps provides no photo ops, or TV news clips.

Posted by: Liam-still | January 7, 2011 5:32 PM | Report abuse

the leader and the speaker have established their integrity and their mendacity for years in this Congress and I don't believe it can be effectively challenged and those who do so actually cast aspersions on themselves by making wild accusations
----------------------------------------------------
Huh? Hand that guy a dictionary.

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | January 7, 2011 5:38 PM | Report abuse

The Weeping Mendacious Gavelier.

.............................

David Letterman's Top Ten list, from last night.

Top Ten Little-Known Facts About John Boehner
10.His biggest corporate sponsor: Kleenex
9.Crayola named orange crayon after him "Burnt Boehner"
8.He, too, prefers to be called "Madame Speaker"
7.Born in Kenya
6.While working at his father's bar, invented popular cocktail, the Harvey Wallboehner
5.Uses the same tanning salon as Snooki
4.In 1978, performed with his dancing iguana on "The Gong Show"
3.Cried at numbers 9, 7, 5, and 4 on this list
2.Second in line to the presidency; first in line at SuperCuts
1.Celebrated last night by Boehning his wife

Posted by: Liam-still | January 7, 2011 5:43 PM | Report abuse

That top 10 list is great.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | January 7, 2011 5:56 PM | Report abuse

All, Happy Hour Roundup posted:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2011/01/happy_hour_roundup_161.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | January 7, 2011 6:27 PM | Report abuse

my assumption is wbgonne would wholeheartedly agree that Obama has never governed from the left...

Posted by: Greg Sargent | January 7, 2011 5:26 PM | Report abuse

You betcha! Obama has run so fast and so far from the Left that he could be Tea Partier. But he managed to wreck Liberalism anyway. Quite a trick.

Posted by: wbgonne | January 7, 2011 6:50 PM | Report abuse

Obama is a center-rightist, not at all a leftist. A fundamental misunderstanding easy to make in a world where the opposition is no longer merely conservative, but more extremist and rightist than in American history even to what was their left. In this political environment, Nelson Rockefeller would be at Firedoglake, Goldwater would be DFH, and Nixon would be to the left of Obama.

Posted by: sparkplug1 | January 7, 2011 8:19 PM | Report abuse

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