President Obama today used the same East Room stage where he bid former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel adieu last year to present his new chief of staff, William Daley, to the White House and the country.
Obama stressed Daley’s undeniable qualifications for the job.
“He served as a member of President Clinton’s Cabinet as Commerce secretary. He took on several other important duties over the years on behalf of our country,” Obama said.
“He’s led major corporations,” Obama continued. “And, needless to say, Bill also has a smidgen of awareness of how our system of government and politics works. You might say it is a genetic trait.”
But Obama also used his remarks to offer a paean to acting Chief of Staff Pete Rouse, who drew wildly enthusiastic applause from the assembled White House staffers and appeared to grow quite emotional during the ceremony.
Obama made clear that Rouse, who will move to senior adviser and report to Daley, was not being bumped aside. Calling him and “a unique and indispensible asset” who had not wanted the chief of staff job in the first place, Obama said he was greatful Rouse will stay on. “I cannot imagine life here without him, and I told him so,” Obama said.
Daley, in his remarks, made clear he’s not unwilling to suck up to his new boss, comparing him favorably to no less than John F. Kennedy – the ultimate compliment for a Democratic politician.
“Fifty years ago this month, I visited the White House with my parents and my brothers and sisters to visit a young president who went on to show great strength, leadership and vision in the face of enormous challenges in those times,” Daley said. “You, Mr. President, are proving your strength, your leadership, your vision during a most difficult time for our nation and for the world.”
One would assume that Daley got pretty good treatment . It is widely believed that Daley’s father Richard, then the mayor and undisputed boss of Chicago, handed Kennedy the crucial state of Illinois in the 1960 election by pumping up the JFK’s vote in the city.
Daley is expected to assume responsibilities later this month, around the time of the State of the Union speech.