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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.
From CNN's Parker Spitzer:
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.
You've got to love it when CNN puts the "BREAKING NEWS!" banner on a story that's not yet been confirmed yet. The Villagers on the panel segment of John King's show are apparently all aflutter over the prospect of William Daley joining the Obama administration because heaven forbid this administration hasn't been friendly enough to big business and Wall Street already.
We can't continue to have our Wall Street masters of the universe continuing to go around with their feelings hurt, now can we?
KING: Let's begin there with that breaking news. I'm told tonight by several top Democratic sources including two current senior Obama administration officials that banking executive William Daley is being considered as a possible chief of staff candidate. Daley is the brother of the Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and was commerce secretary back in the Clinton administration. He also was a top official in the Gore presidential campaign back in 2000.
My sources tell me Daley's name figures prominently as the president and his close advisers debate how to respond to the new environment of divided government here in Washington, and how to put the White House on the best possible footing heading into the president's re-election campaign in 2012. One of these sources said that as of last week, Daley had not, not been offered the job.
Another said whether to make that offer was part of the president's work on his Hawaii vacation. And a third source confirming a Bloomberg news report this afternoon that Daley's name was part of a broader discussion about White House changes for the new year and the new political environment. So why consider Bill Daley and what does it signal about the president's thinking after the midterm election shellacking?
Gloria Borger is here. She's been working her sources this evening too. Also with us, CNN contributors Roland Martin, a veteran himself of Chicago politics, John Avlon and Erick Erickson. Gloria, let me start with you.
Sometimes in what we're told we have to try to crack the reporting code and one of the things that strikes me is officially White House officials are saying no comment. Not go away. No comment.
BORGER: No comment. Can't confirm or deny. And you know this is something our White House correspondent Ed Henry was hearing back in early September. He was getting a whiff of this. He was waved away from it. I was waved away from it. It is very clear that this White House has been doing an internal review led by the current chief of staff, Pete Rouse, about what they need to do heading in to a new Congress with a new political reality and the political reality, as you pointed out, is a divided Congress and Bill Daley is somebody who really knows how to reach out to Republicans.
We saw that when he passed NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement when Bill Clinton was there. And I bet they're going to -- you know that's one reason that he's attractive to them.