Let me finish tonight with a bright sign from the White House. Every leader must have three elements: motive, passion, spontaneity. We need to know why he or she is there, why moves them, and, this other thing, this sign that they are alive, awake, thinking, looking for and responding to new ways to grow.
President Obama’s appointment today of William Daley as his chief of staff is solid evidence that the lights are on at the White House and somebody’s home.
He’s needed a good rep with the business world. Now he’s got one.
He’s needed a chief operating officer, a ram-rod in the White House to carry out his orders, to get the Cabinet cracking. Now he’s got one.
He’s needed a clear chain of command on domestic matters parallel to the one he’s got on defense and foreign policy. Now he’s got one.
He’s a Democratic president who needs to show the Democrats are as good at government as they are committed to it. He’s needed to show that he’s got more than press secretaries, communications people and speechwriters, that the Presidency is an executive operation. Now he has and has got himself a top kick to do it.
This brings us to the key to the Daley appointment.
President Obama no longer controls the Congress. To dominate politically, he will need to do his heaviest lifting from the Executive Branch. He will need to be forceful, effective and impressive. Daley can be for him what Jim Baker was for Ronald Reagan, a chief of staff who brings discipline, focus and tough, consistent, professional enforcement to what the President decides are his most vital goals between now and when he faces the people in 2012.
This is a good day for the Obama administration. It’s good, always good, to show you’re alive, thinking, growing, surprising your opponents, bracing your believers.