No matter how you rearrange President Obama's inner circle, it still looks, smells and tastes like a rotten Chicago deep-dish pizza.
Ready for the latest topping on this moldy old pie? It's a possible chief of staff slot for Wall Street banker/lawyer/wheeler-dealer William Daley, brother of outgoing Chicago mayor/machine politics mastermind Richard M. Daley (also the former boss of White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett and first lady Michelle Obama), whose retirement paved the way for former Obama chief of staff and Chicago mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel. Phew.
The White House is reportedly looking to manufacture a "pro-business" aura with Bill Daley, who holds a "corporate responsibility" executive office at J.P. Morgan and once headed the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — the latter, a left-wing hate object and Obama punching bag leading up to the midterms.
But the Beltway-based Chamber of Commerce is too often a fair-weather statist lobbying organization. It supported the TARP all-purpose bailout, the auto bailout and the bottomless, pork-filled stimulus package, all of which have forcibly redistributed money from taxpayers and small businesses to politically connected special interests (including Daley's J.P. Morgan, which was most recently swept up in a massive pay-to-play bond scheme in Alabama).
Daley has about as much real experience creating jobs as Da Boss now sitting at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave — which is to say, less than a thimble full. (It's a New Year. I'm being generous.) In 2009, the head of Chicago's sanitation department implicated Daley in a hiring corruption scheme tied to his brother's mayoral administration. The official was convicted; Daley shrugged off the federal probe. "Even if it happened — and I'm not saying it did — things were different. There was nothing illegal about that stuff."
Instead of distancing himself from the favor-trading Wall Street fat cats who have earned the ire of both anti-bailout tea party activists and anti-corporate liberals, Obama remains wedded, embedded and indebted to the worst kind.
Daley has served on the board of government-sponsored financial behemoth Fannie Mae since 1993. Like the Richard Daley machine in Chicago, Fannie Mae in Washington has served as an industrial-sized patronage factory — sharing profits with political allies, spreading taxpayer funds to ethnic groups, and doling out jobs to left-wing academics, Washington has-beens and back-scratching buddies. Like Daley. And close Obama adviser Jim Johnson, the Fannie Mae exec who got sweetheart loans from shady subprime lender Countrywide.
While they raked in six-figure salaries, Fannie Mae and government-sponsored sibling Freddie Mac engaged in Enron-style accounting, plunged into debt and helped usher in the subprime housing meltdown through reckless lending practices.
Bill Clinton, the man who appointed Daley to the Fannie Mae board, also appointed Emanuel to the Freddie Mac board of directors at a time when its oversight manager called the quasi-governmental agency "so pliant" that it enabled rampant book-cooking. Freddie Mac's stock skyrocketed; its CEOs helped themselves to massive bonuses. Emanuel's hometown paper, the Chicago Tribune, exposed how Emanuel's "profitable stint" during this corruption-plagued period entailed almost no work:
The board met no more than six times a year. Unlike most fellow directors, Emanuel was not assigned to any of the board's working committees, according to company proxy statements. Immediately upon joining the board, Emanuel and other new directors qualified for $380,000 in stock and options plus a $20,000 annual fee, records indicate.
On Emanuel's watch, executives told the board of a plan to use accounting tricks to mislead shareholders about outsize profits the government-chartered firm was then reaping from risky investments. The goal was to push earnings onto the books in future years, ensuring that Freddie Mac would appear profitable on paper for years to come and helping maximize annual bonuses for company brass.
And now the torch may be passed in an endless Windy City circle, from Daley to Emanuel, from Emanuel to Daley, with Obama. 'Round and 'round it goes in Chicago on the Potomac. Remember: When Crony State corruptocrats brag about "job creation," the only jobs they've ever created are each other's.
Michelle Malkin is the author of "Culture of Corruption: Obama and his Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks & Cronies" (Regnery 2010). Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.