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Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 01/ 5/2011

Personnel versus policy

By Jennifer Rubin

Ezra Klein, after citing Bill Daley's relationship with the business community, remarks on on the potential selection of Daley as chief of staff:

It's frankly slightly insulting to business leaders to say that their relationship with the White House relies on how many close personal friends they have in the building. It's not that that stuff doesn't matter, but what really matters, as you'd expect, are actual policy decisions. And the reason Daley is well liked by business, at least right now, is that he has been siding with them on major disputes. If he gets to the White House and stops doing that, he won't be as well liked among them.

There is much to that. And It is equally true that "charm" offenses, be it with the business community or Jewish leaders are equally silly. After all, in the end it is the policy that matters. If Obama isn't intending to deal with business leaders' substantive concerns on taxes, regulations and the like, all the confabs and the personnel decisions won't mean much. So long as the president resists efforts to repeal or revise his "historic" health-care reform and deploys the EPA to regulate emissions business leaders will continue to rail against the administration's policy choices.

That said, key personnel decisions do inevitably dictate policy. By putting Gen. David Petraeus in charge of Afghanistan, Obama signaled he was serious about the war effort. More recently, the recess appointment of Francis J. Ricciardone Jr. as ambassador to Turkey strongly suggests we aren't go to be pushing the Turkish government on human rights.

If Obama wants to understand the concerns and motivations of business leaders and make meaningful adjustments in his policy choices, then Daley is the sort of person he would select to manage his administration. For that very reason, liberals are unnerved by his possible selection. But before liberals melt down and conservatives rejoice they should also keep in mind that if Obama wants to give the appearance of moderation while standing pat, Daley is also a good choice. In other words, we'll have to see whether Daley (or some other selection) is window dressing or the architect of a more business-friendly domestic policy.

By Jennifer Rubin  | January 5, 2011; 12:00 PM ET
Categories:  Obama White House  
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Comments

Bill Daley, just coincidentally being brother to Mayor Richard M. Daley of Chicago, would cement an unsavory marriage of Federal governance with Chicago politics that is worse than revolting.

Some of us citizens would prefer that the White House include more voices who cared about the country at large, and less who were part of Chicago's reekingly corrupt inner circle.

"I won" served the victor of the Saint Valentine's Day massacre very well. It indicates less-than-caring national leadership when invoked by this White House.

Posted by: InsufficientlySensitive | January 5, 2011 1:21 PM | Report abuse

I'm surprised this post isn't about Robert Gibbs. In an administration that is notable for poor communicators, he stood out as the worst. He certainly was the worst first choice for Press Secretary of my lifetime, so almost anybody Obmama brings in will be an upgrade.

He was petulant, humorless, childish, arrogant and condescending, not neceesarily in that order. Even little Scotty McClellan did a better job.

So depending on the job, personnel can make a HUGE difference.

Speaking of which, are you worried yet Jennifer?

All the economic indicators have been stunningly good so far this week. The reshuffling of the Obama team has to produce some better results in key spots. I forecast the unemployment rate will be no lower than 9% by the end of the year, however I MIGHT be wrong. If there are no black swan events in the next two years, AND the unemployment rate gets down to the 8% range by summer 2012, AND Bernanke can keep oil from going to $4 a gallon due to inflation, then Obama wins 2012 in a walk and you have no shot at the Senate!

Posted by: 54465446 | January 5, 2011 1:30 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad we agree on Gibbs, 544. Seriously, not from a partisan angle at all - that guy was such a bad face for the administration. He was so arrogant and sneering when dealing with anyone who isn't on board with Hopenchange. Not a wise way to move independents to your side.

Posted by: jmpickett | January 5, 2011 1:43 PM | Report abuse

@544

"stunnigly" good is a somewhat extravagant description but is hardly bad news that the American economy retains sufficient resilience to manage some kind of recovery even after being subjected to the multifaceted and violent abuse visited on it in the last 22 or so months by the present administration.

Naturally, the somewhat more robust growth - including the better job numbers - is a consequence in large part of the election of a Republican majority in the House and the addition of Republican senators and the intimation that this circumstance will, at least to some extent, limit the violent barrage of destructive taxation, regulation, unionization and litigation. The tax deal, the first tangible manifestation of this restraint certainly encouraged some previously hesitant employers to finally making positive hiring decisions.

There is still, however, every indication that the Administration will continue to attack the economy (with the badly misguided though no doubt sincere intention of actually helping) and Obama's chances of reelection will rest in large part on the capacity of Republicans to thwart those designs. To the extent that they do, and supposing that the economy grows at something close to 70% and unemployment falls bellow 7.8 or so one has to assume that a second Obama administration is an almost certain prospect. The general confusion and ignorance among too many of the public and the dubious nature of the Republican field just about guarantees that.

Posted by: cavalier4 | January 5, 2011 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Thats 70% of what it did under Reagan in 83/84.

Posted by: cavalier4 | January 5, 2011 2:08 PM | Report abuse

cavalier:

I disagree entirely but courteously!

The numbers are stunning, of course only to the extent that they were much, much better than expected.

However we are talking about ISM numbers, those are the LEAST likely to have been affected by the above changes you associate with GOP takeover. Now if we are discussing employment figures, then I would give more weight to your argument.

Posted by: 54465446 | January 5, 2011 2:14 PM | Report abuse

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