For most observers, the selection of William Daley makes a lot of sense for Barack Obama, both on the surface as well as in the curious Chicago-influence exchange vibe from Rahm Emanuel’s candidacy for the job held now by Daley’s brother Richard. For those on the Left, though, the choice forces those convinced that a poor choice of advisers have kept President Obama from fighting for their radical progressive agenda to acknowledge that Obama himself is not the man they thought they’d elected, as Ben Smith reports for Politico:
The appointment of Bill Daley to the top staff job in the Obama White House has dealt the final blow to a dearly held fantasy of parts of the left: that a truly liberal president has been ill-served and misinterpreted by Rahm Emanuel and other center-right aides.
The sounds of hearts finally breaking come from key quadrants of the Democratic Party – labor, ethnic groups and the gay community – who had tried to convince themselves for two years that President Barack Obama was still the liberal crusader they had come to believe he was during the 2008 campaign; it was just that his West Wing staff wouldn’t let Obama be Obama.
With the ascension of a renowned centrist and Clinton administration veteran to the post as White House chief of staff, the left now finally acknowledges that Obama’s decisions are actually being made by Obama – and they seem to veer perilously toward the center time and time again.
“First, when progressives were disappointed they blamed it on Rahm. Then (interim chief of staff Pete) Rouse came in and they had the same problems,” said one senior labor official. “It’s going to be the same thing with Daley, but folks don’t see the point in trashing him, because it’s going to be the same pattern [of] decisions from the top.”
Disillusionment can be the most potent force in politics. Just ask the Democrats in Congress. They ran in 2006 as fiscal moderates and deficit hawks, then ran up annual federal spending by almost 40% in three budget cycles. The independents who believed their campaign rhetoric turned out in force to send them to the back benches in 2010.
Progressives have a bigger problem with Obama than independents did with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, though. They championed Obama and John Edwards before him as transformational leaders whose ability to lead the nation into a liberal Nirvana eclipsed their executive inexperience and utter lack of accomplishments. Without Obama having neither the ability nor the inclination to champion the far Left any longer, and with the “transformational” nature of his presence exposed as a bad joke, exactly what did Obama’s election produce, except the utterly predictable failures of putting an inexperienced and unprepared politician in way over his head? And what does that do to the Left’s credibility in the Democratic coalition in the future?