The appointment of William Daley as President Obama’s chief-of-staff has drawn plenty of comment. It is widely viewed as an important signal that Obama is tacking towards the poiltical center.
That may be where Obama is tacking, but I’m not convinced that this is the meaning, or will be the consequence, of the Daley appointment. When it comes to matters of ideology, Obama will continue to be his own chief-of-staff. Thus, for once, I agree with E.J. Dionne, who suggests that the selection of Daley may be more about competence than ideology, as Michael Dukakis might say.
Meanwhile, flying under the radar, is the appointment of Tina Tchen, another Chicagoan, as Michelle Obama’s chief-of-staff. Tchen is a hard leftist. An acquaintance of hers told me (with a bit of exaggeration, I assume) that Tchen makes Dennis Kucinich look like a right-wing extremist. According to sources, when Tchen practiced law as a partner at a big Chicago firm, she was the scourge of more than one associate unfortunate enough to have made his or her conservative views known.
Tchen’s appointment probably deserves to fly under the radar screen. Her new position doesn’t seem like a terribly important one, especially with the First Lady expected to keeps a low ideological profile. Moreover, Tchen already held two White House jobs (one of which, Executive Director of the White House Council on Women and Girls, she will keep).
However, her appointment is a timely reminder that, in addition to the president himself, there are plenty of hard leftists prowling around the White House. Obama is hardly closing himself off to left-wing policy options by bringing in William Daley.
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