Personnel versus policy
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.
| January 5, 2011; 12:00 PM ET
Categories: Obama White House
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