NPR logo White House Chief Daley Exits Early As Obama Girds For Re-Election

White House Chief Daley Exits Early As Obama Girds For Re-Election

Soon-to-be former White House chief of staff William Daley may not have had the warmest of relations with other administration officials or congressional lawmakers, but he apparently had achieved something of a mind meld with President Obama.

In announcing that Daley was going and that Jack Lew, the administration's top budget official, would be replacing Daley, the president said:

"Naturally, when Bill told me his plans to go back to Chicago, I asked him who I thought could fill his shoes. He told me that there was one clear choice, and I believe he's right."

If only Daley's powers could have extended to getting the president not to utter those words that immediately raise suspicions in both the private and public sectors that an official has been ousted: he's leaving to spend more time with his family:

"Bill told me he wanted to spend more time with his family, especially his grandchildren, and he felt it was the right decision."

Of course, sometimes people do actually quit to spend more time with their families. But if the federal treasury got $1 million for each time that statement has been used to save face when someone has been pushed out the door, the national budget would be in surplus.

Certainly the 63-year old Daley has the financial wherewithal to never work another day in his life, being a former top official at banking giant JP Morgan Chase.

But because Daley had said last year that he intended to remain as White House chief of staff until after the November election, Monday's announcement certainly is curious.

Until Monday, everyone was under the impression that he planned to stay even though much of day-to-day responsibilities had been handed over to Obama aide Peter Rouse, leaving Daley with much less to do.

Daley was never a favorite of many key Democratic constituencies so he's unlikely to be missed by them. Organized labor weren't fans because of Daley's role as the Clinton administration point person to get NAFTA passed.

Daley was also viewed as a big-business Democrat, for many Democrats their party's counterpart a RINO.

Having him exit the scene now means Daley won't be in the White House where he could be a drag on Obama's re-election campaign.

But he's not exactly out of the 2012 picture. Daley will serve as Obama's re-election campaign co-chair. And that's after all that he went through as the chair of Al Gore's 2000 campaign, including the Florida recount. The man clearly has a high pain threshold.

Obama is now two for two on chiefs of staff from Chicago who haven't quite worked out. Rahm Emanuel, a Daley friend and now Chicago's mayor, had good relations with House Democrats but his profane, abrasive style reportedly backfired with many White House aides.

With Lew, Obama is going for a New Yorker who once was chief operating officer of a Citigroup unit. That led a Gawker wag to write the headline "Citigroup Replaces JP Morgan as White House Chief of Staff."