William Daley is President Barack Obama’s pick to be his new permanent Chief of Staff, replacing Rahm Emanuel who left October 1. Although considered a Washington outsider, Daley is the consummate business and Chicago insider. The question is, what impact will Daley, who as Chief of Staff becomes Obama’s chief advisor and gatekeeper, have on gay rights and the administration’s fledgling focus on the gay agenda?
Daley is 62, a Roman Catholic, married, and has three children. He has been on the board of directors of pharma giant Abbott Labs, military contractor giant Boeing, and is a Chairman in charge of “Corporate Responsibility” at banking giant J.P. Morgan Chase. He was also president of telecomm giant SBC Communications and sits on the Council on Foreign Relations.
On the other hand, Daley served as chairman of Vice President Al Gore’s presidential election campaign and as the U.S. Secretary of Commerce for President Bill Clinton. Also, William Daley’s father, Richard J. Daley, and brother, Richard M. Daley, took turns as Chicago’s mayors for much of the last half-century. Outgoing but current Mayor Daley, William’s brother, recently expressed support for same-sex marriage.
Also, Chicago has a long and illustrious history in the gay rights movement.
That said, William Daley is the consummate centrist.
Ben Smith at Politico wrote on Monday,
“Back in 2009, he was among the first prominent Democrats to call on Obama and his party to tack to the center, in a Washington Post op-ed that infuriated the left:
The Democratic Party — my lifelong political home — has a critical decision to make: Either we plot a more moderate, centrist course or risk electoral disaster not just in the upcoming midterms but in many elections to come.
“A Daley appointment would be an early signal of Obama’s confidence that the party’s left will ultimately have no choice but to show up and vote for him in 2012.”
In the afore-mentioned op-ed, Daley also writes,
“All that is required for the Democratic Party to recover its political footing is to acknowledge that the agenda of the party’s most liberal supporters has not won the support of a majority of Americans — and, based on that recognition, to steer a more moderate course on the key issues of the day, from health care to the economy to the environment to Afghanistan.”
He ends with, “The leaders of the Democratic Party need to move back toward the center — and in doing so, set the stage for the many years’ worth of leadership necessary to produce the sort of pragmatic change the American people actually want.”
Not once, from what I can harvest, has Daley mentioned gay rights. Curiously, he has seemed to steer clear of the topic.
Add to that what Smith writes today, and you have to assume that Daley will not allow the Obama ship of state to even tack anywhere near something as potentially-tumultous as downing DOMA or adding ENDA. Smith says Daley was “a great source to the late Robert Novak, who outed Daley in his memoir (page 451) as the anonymous Midwestern Democratic source of an incendiary remark on Michael Dukakis’s failed attempt to keep Jesse Jackson’s profile low at the 1988 Democratic convention.
“For those of us who watched television, what they saw looked like a black party,” Daley told Novak.
“William Daley was no racist,” Novak assured his readers, but the comment is at least a reminder that his 2009 Washington Post op-ed urging Democrats to avoid the appearance of a leftward tilt is hardly new.”
So, gay rights advocates and LGBTQ rights supporters, I think we can look upon the Daley appointment as another Obama political calculation, which means, along with a Republican House, the march toward full gay equality just turned up a steeper hill.
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