Jonathan Alter explains how Bill Daley slowly lost control as Chief of Staff in his column, “How Bill Daley Died A Death Of A Thousand Cuts”
The resignation of William M. Daley as President Barack Obama’s White House chief of staff brings to mind the words of David Wilhelm when he left his post as chairman of the Democratic National Committee in 1994: “I’m going back to Chicago where they stab you in the front.”
Obama was reportedly stunned that Daley quit after only a year in the post, but he shouldn’t have been. The affable Chicago banker had already experienced Washington’s classic death of a thousand cuts.
Some background: The youngest and smartest son of the late Mayor Richard J. Daley was never part of the Obama inner circle. After I broke the story in late 2006 that Daley would offer an early and important endorsement of the freshman Illinois senator, a Chicago source informed me that Daley had no particular love for Obama. He backed Obama over Hillary Clinton in part to stay on the right side of Chicago’s blacks in anticipation of a now-abandoned plan to run for governor of Illinois.
In the summer of 2007, when Obama trailed Clinton by more than 20 points in most polls, Daley, by then co-chairman of the Obama campaign, essentially gave up on his candidate, telling friends that Obama had impressed everyone with his fundraising and set himself up nicely for the future but wasn’t going to make it in 2008. Obama loyalists, remembering that Daley had stopped fighting for Al Gore in the 2000 election aftermath against George W. Bush and Jim Baker when he was Gore’s campaign chairman, took note. There was no serious effort to bring him into the Obama administration in 2009.