Thomas Frank lays out the reasons why the pick of William Daley for Chief of Staff in the Obama administration is completely politically tone deaf to the mood of the average voter out there.
SPITZER: Joining us in "The Arena" tonight are CNN political contributor James Carville and Thomas Frank, "Harper's" magazine contributor and author of several books including "What's the Matter with Kansas?"
PARKER: Thanks for joining us. So we're all talking about the changes at the White House, particularly the new chief of staff. Why should the American people care about who the president hires as his chief of staff, James? Go to you first.
CARVILLE: Well, first of all, you know it's one of the most powerful positions in the United States government. It's not confirmable. So I think it does matter and I also think it's a reflection of the White House strategy of policy which appears to me to be a continuation of the December policy that cooperate with the Republicans and to not be very confrontational.
And I think that president picking Secretary Daley sent that signal. I think it's a manifestation of an ongoing strategy that the White House has adopted.
PARKER: Well, everybody loves him, it seems like. I have found no one on either side of the aisle who's critical of him. And I'm sure Tom Frank would join us here and congratulate the president for picking such a rationale chief of staff, right?
FRANK: You know what, Kathleen, this -- this whole thing, it just -- you remember when I was on your -- I was up there in New York and I was on your show a couple of weeks ago and we were talking about -- the term that I use is the poverty of centrism, right?
The sort of exhaustion of this whole way of understanding politics. And this gives you another, you know, really big clue as to what's the matter with the Democrats. There's just no imagination out there. They seem to just be completely clueless with regards to, you know, how to play the political game. This is their response to the shellacking that they took.
SPITZER: You know, Tom, I got to jump in here and agree with you 100 percent. It seems to me there's another factor we've got to bring to the table here.
On the same day that Bill Daley comes in, Paul Volcker goes out. Paul Volcker, of course, the esteemed, highly respected former chairman of the Fed, was the only one in the administration who was really pushing for fundamental Wall Street reform. And so he is gone and we bring in a banker, somebody from Morgan Chase, who is now going to be at the center, as James said. Being chief of staff for the president is being arguably the second most powerful person in the United States government.
FRANK: Right. But, you're not -- you're not being fair there. It's a balanced choice because at the same time they brought in Gene Sperling who I believe used to work for Goldman Sachs.
SPITZER: That's right.
FRANK: So you've got -- you know you've got both sides represented there. JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs.