| Ad­vice for Obama’s new chief of staff

The Washington Post Sunday - - SUNDAY OPINION -

MACK McLARTY Pres­i­dent of McLarty As­so­ci­ates and chief of staff to Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton from 1993 to 1994

Bill Da­ley needs to help Barack Obama do what Bill Clin­ton did af­ter the 1994 elec­tions: fo­cus on vot­ers’ prob­lems, move to the cen­ter and fight for pro­gres­sive val­ues from that po­si­tion. Pres­i­dent Obama has shown that he heard the lessons of Novem­ber 2010. He has reached out to the busi­ness com­mu­nity, pri­or­i­tized pas­sage of the South Korea free-trade agree­ment, and deftly ne­go­ti­ated with con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans to en­sure pas­sage of New START, re­peal the ban on gays in the mil­i­tary and en­sure a burst of con­tin­ued stim­u­lus and un­em­ploy­ment ben­e­fits with his big tax cut deal.

As a mod­er­ate strongly rooted in Demo­cratic prin­ci­ples and pol­i­tics, Bill Da­ley is the right per­son to ad­vance this vi­sion. I worked closely with him in the Clin­ton years — he led our NAFTA rat­i­fi­ca­tion ef­fort and served as a key in­ter­locu­tor with busi­ness as sec­re­tary of com­merce. But he is no col­or­less tech­no­crat and no Repub­li­can shill. He’s a Da­ley from Chicago, schooled in the art of the pos­si­ble but with a heart firmly rooted in the needs of lunch-bucket vot­ers who have sup­ported Da­leys for 50 years. I’ve seen Bill with chief ex­ec­u­tives, civil rights lead­ers and union or­ga­niz­ers, and he’s com­fort­able with them all.

And to Democrats who fret about a move to the cen­ter, I’m hav­ing flash­backs to 1995, at this same stage of the Clin­ton pres­i­dency. Take it from me: Obama’s sec­ond term will be a lot more sat­is­fy­ing than a Mitt Rom­ney or Sarah Palin first term.

DANA PERINO White House press sec­re­tary to Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush

Per­son­nel changes give or­ga­ni­za­tions unique op­por­tu­ni­ties to com­mu­ni­cate a mes­sage. That’s es­pe­cially true for an em­bat­tled com­man­der in chief. Re­mem­ber when Pres­i­dent Bush nom­i­nated Robert Gates to run the De­fense Depart­ment, Tony Snow to be the press sec­re­tary, and Michael Mukasey to lead the Jus­tice Depart­ment? All three of those ap­point­ments sent a mes­sage that change, it was a-comin’.

The se­lec­tion of Wil­liam Da­ley sent the mes­sage that Pres­i­dent Obama was try­ing to re­lay: Busi­ness com­mu­nity, I heard you loud and clear — you think I’m anti-busi­ness, even though I’ve no earthly idea why — so, here­with, my new chief of staff. Will that sat­isfy you?

Well, let’s just call it a good first step. Now for the fol­low-through. No doubt, Da­ley brings con­sid­er­able ex­pe­ri­ence and tal­ents to the role, and he’ll be a steady hand in the choppy wa­ters ahead.

One of the first things he could do is be a check on the lan­guage used in speeches and state­ments, and he could start by strip­ping out the class war­fare mes­sag­ing. How­ever, scripted words haven’t been the only things that have put the White House in hot wa­ter — it’s those off-script mo­ments that have caused them the most trou­ble. And there’s not much a chief of staff can do about that.


Se­nior writer at the Sun­light Foun­da­tion

Though I have se­ri­ous mis­giv­ings about the se­lec­tion of Wil­liam Da­ley as Pres­i­dent Obama’s next chief of staff, per­haps a “Nixon goes to China” moment is in the cards.

The pres­i­dent took some early steps to cre­ate greater trans­parency in the White House, es­tab­lish­ing re­quire­ments to en­sure that spe­cial in­ter­ests didn’t get an in­side track. But as he said af­ter the midterm elec­tions, Obama hasn’t done enough: “ The Amer­i­can peo­ple want to see more trans­parency, more open­ness. . . . I take re­spon­si­bil­ity for . . . not hav­ing pushed harder on some of those is­sues.”

Per­haps Da­ley is the man to make it hap­pen.

At the top of the list should be real lobby dis­clo­sure re­form, as the pres­i­dent cam­paigned on in 2008 and asked Congress to tackle in his 2010 State of the Union. This means in­creas­ing the depth and breadth of re­ports on lob­by­ing ac­tiv­i­ties. Re­duc­ing the thresh­old for reg­is­ter­ing lob­by­ists, dis­clos­ing lob­by­ist con­tacts and re­quir­ing real-time re­port­ing of those try­ing to in­flu­ence pol­i­cy­mak­ing is key to trans­parency. This should ap­ply to the White House vis­i­tor logs, too.

TOM C. KOROLOGOS Strate­gic ad­viser at DLAPiper; worked for or ad­vised Pres­i­dents Nixon, Ford, Rea­gan, Ge­orge H.W. Bush and Ge­orge W. Bush

1. On Mon­day, Da­ley meets with the pres­i­dent and vice pres­i­dent with cam­eras rolling, when the pres­i­dent for­mally “ be­stows knight­hood” on Da­ley and says: “When Bill Da­ley speaks, it is the same as when I am speak­ing.”

2. Da­ley thanks the pres­i­dent and says, “At noon, I am start­ing a ‘ lis­ten­ing tour’ of the con­gres­sional lead­er­ship and other venues around town. The first stop will be a one-onone lunch with Speaker Boehner.”

3. Next he pays a cour­tesy call on Mi­nor­ity Leader Nancy Pelosi.

4. Then he goes to the Se­nate and pays a cour­tesy call on Demo­cratic leader Harry Reid, fol­lowed by a one-on-one meet­ing with Repub­li­can Leader Mitch McCon­nell.

5. Mon­day evening he has din­ner with Richard L. Trumka of the AFL-CIO.

6. Tues­day he has break­fast with Tom Donohue at the U.S. Cham­ber of Com­merce.

7. Next he has cof­fee with John En­gler, newly in­stalled pres­i­dent of the Busi­ness Roundtable, and later an­other cof­fee with Mary Ver­meer An­driga of the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Man­u­fac­tur­ers.

8. Tues­day lunch is with the Cabi­net at the White House, where he says, “Our as­sign­ment is to keep the trash of govern­ment from the pres­i­dent and to make sure all our dif­fer­ences are ironed out be­fore we take is­sues to him for fi­nal de­ci­sions.”

9. Tues­day af­ter­noon, he and the pres­i­dent meet with the en­tire White House staff, when he re­ports on his first few days on the job.

JOHN H. SU­NUNU Chair­man of the New Hamp­shire Repub­li­can Party; chief of staff to Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush from 1989 to 1991

Bill Da­ley is an ex­cel­lent choice to serve as Pres­i­dent Obama’s chief of staff. The most im­por­tant thing he has to do is spend some se­ri­ous time with the pres­i­dent and de­ter­mine ex­actly what his ad­min­is­tra­tion wants to ac­com­plish dur­ing the re­main­der of his term. Frankly, there are only six months left to save the Obama pres­i­dency, be­cause if there is no sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment in per­for­mance in that short pe­riod, there will be no op­por­tu­nity to fix things be­fore the elec­tion.

It is im­por­tant that at some point dur­ing this time, the pres­i­dent hears from a close ad­viser like his chief of staff that his prob­lem is not com­mu­ni­ca­tions but sub­stance. The Amer­i­can pub­lic is un­happy with what it views to be a far-too-lib­eral agenda. Da­ley has to help the pres­i­dent fo­cus on what vot­ers re­ally want right now — smaller govern­ment and less spend­ing.

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