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Jonathan Chait on Obama's Year-Three Missteps

They do seem to me to be much greater than his year 1 and year 2 missteps.

Chait hates on Bill Daley--but the Czar chose this particular cossack. Nevertheless, blaming the cossack does provide a safe way for the Czar to change direction:

Daley’s Demotion: How Washington Elites Got Obama Wrong: Hiring Bill Daley as chief of staff may not have been the biggest mistake of President Obama’s first term, but it was surely the most obvious one. Now he appears to be reversing it….

[T]he interesting legacy of Daley… is that he conducted an experiment based on the Washington elite view of the Obama presidency. That view, shared by business leaders, centrist pundits, and other elites, holds that Obama’s main problem has been excessive partisanship, liberalism in general, and hostility to business in particular. In December, 2009, Bill Daley wrote a Washington Post op-ed endorsing precisely this analysis. After the midterm elections, Obama – pelted by Daley-esque complaints – appointed Daley chief of staff. “His moderate views and Wall Street credentials make him an unexpected choice for a president who has railed against corporate irresponsibility,” reported the Post. Republicans like Mitch McConnell, Karl Rove, and FedEx CEO Fred Smith raved.

Daley, pursuing his theory, heavily courted business leaders. He made long-term deficit reduction a top priority, and spent hours with Republican leaders, meeting them three-quarters of the way in hopes of securing a deal that would demonstrate his centrism and bipartisanship. The effort failed completely.

The effort failed because Daley’s analysis — which is also the analysis of David Brooks and Michael Bloomberg — was fatally incorrect. Americans were not itching for Obama to make peace with corporate America. Americans are in an angry, populist mood…. What’s more, it may be true that a bipartisan deal to reduce the deficit would have bolstered Obama’s standing. The trouble is that Republicans believed the exact same thing. Here’s how McConnell frankly explained his calculation:

The only way the American people would know that a great debate was going on was if the measures were not bipartisan. When you hang the ‘bipartisan’ tag on something, the perception is that differences have been worked out, and there’s a broad agreement that that’s the way forward.

Republicans believed that making bipartisan agreements with Obama would make Obama and his agenda more popular. Republicans are not in the business of helping Obama win reelection. And so they refused to sign a bipartisan agreement, and Obama simply looked weak and ineffectual.

Since that debacle, Obama issued a course correction and started pursuing a strategy that’s in line with the realities of public opinion and the Congress, as opposed to Daley’s fantasy version thereof… outlining the legislation he wants on jobs, under no illusion that Republicans will cooperate, in order to clarify which party is responsible for inaction…. Daley is now a superfluous man...