Reaction to White House Shakeup

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," January 6, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Today, I am proud to announce the appointment of an experienced public servant, a devoted patriot, my friend, fellow Chicagoan Bill Daley to serve as my chief of staff.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, SENATE MINORITY LEADER, R-KY.: I used to say the last two years, I don’t know whether it was technically true or not but, there was nobody down at the White House that had ever even  run a lemonade stand. They were all college professors and former elected officials.  This is a guy who has actually been out in the private sector, been a part of business. Frankly, my first reaction is it sounds like a good idea.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRET BAIER, HOST OF “SPECIAL REPORT”:There’s some reaction from the White House to the chief of staff, naming of Bill Daley, former commerce secretary. But here is the left's reaction. There's a twitter -- a tweet from Markos Moulitsas, The Daily Kos founder. He just said, "Sigh." Ezra Klein on his blog said "The Daley pick seems like a bad idea to me." Liberal blogger Jane Hamsher said “House oversight committee chairman Darrell Issa is going to be investigating Fannie and Freddie, and Daley was a Fannie Mae board member…Fannie is the third most hated company in America. It's sort of like painting a sign on your back that says ‘kick me.’"  And there here’s Robert Weisman, he’s the president of Public Citizen.  "Why in the world is President Obama selecting as his chief of staff a person who comes from the very Wall Street that wrecked the economy…and who is an ardent supporter of the job-off shoring, NAFTA style trade agreements that have hallowed out the industrial heartland? This is exactly the wrong direction for the administration."  So what about this pick? Let's bring in our panel, Jonah Goldberg, at-large editor of The National Review online, Juan Williams Fox News contributor, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer. Jonah?

JONAH GOLDBERG, NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE: It’s very hard for me to tease out all my different cynical interpretations for all of this. On the surface level, I think it was a smart move for Obama from policy wise.  I think it’s probably good news if you want to move to center where the better policies are. That's good news.

But politically what I think is fascinating about it is; you know one of things that is left out in some of the statements that Daley opposed was Obamacare, which we'll talk about in a little bit, but it’s an interesting angle.

This is a brilliant move for guy who’s going to raise $1 billion to run for president again and it’s a great way to blunt opposition from the chamber of commerce which did a great deal to hurt them in the midterm elections. We knew the White House was terrified of the chamber of commerce.

So I think it was smart politics. Ticking off bunch of left wing bloggers I don't think ever really hurts a Democratic president. We’ll just have to see whether its window dressing or it really affects policy.

BAIER: Juan, essentially the White House is saying we are not going to pay attention to carving on the less.

(LAUGHTER)

BAIER: Either professional or unprofessional.

JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I guess we have a new Robert Gibbs in the house.

Yes, to me what’s interesting here is that they are willing to alienate people who are carrying water for them. Now they say, the left that you just cited and put up all those postings from are saying that in fact Daley carries water for Wall Street and that America hates Wall Street.

BAIER: formally with J.P. Morgan-Chase.

WILLIAMS: And also Fannie Mae. I think one blogger pointed out that he was with Fannie Mae and they call it the third most hated group of corporation in America. And so why is President Obama bringing these folks in?

The quick answer, as Jonah just told you, is he wants to make friends with the business community. I thought one of the more insightful comments that I saw is that Bill Daley as chief of staff will determine who gets to see the president. And I think you are going to see far more meetings with the business community and President Obama. And the level of trust among people who had given money to President Obama during the campaign from Wall Street really was gone after the first two years.  He’s trying to rebuild the trust, and by extension then get those people to invest in his ideas, his sense of vision for the country.  Get those people to say yes to more jobs, more investment to green shoots economy. That's what this is about.

BAIER: Charles, a little more than a year ago Daley wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post in which he said this, "The agenda of the party's most liberal supporters has not won the support of majority of Americans.  The leaders of the Democratic party need to move to the center and in doing so set the stage for many years worth of the leadership necessary to produce the sort of pragmatic change the American people actually want."

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: This is a perfect statement, the Daley statement of a year ago is perfect statement of what Obama wants the country to think he is doing and will do for the next two years. This is a classic example of repositioning. I don't believe its actual repositioning in the sense he’s changing ideology. The election of November did not give him a road to Damascus moment in which he decided to become a centrist. He's not.

He's a smart man and he understands there is no way in the next two years while the House is Republican that any of the liberal agenda is going to pass. So the next two years are devoted to presenting himself and acting as a centrist. That is smart, the only way to get reelected. Then if he gets reelected he has free hand for the next four years.

Daley is the perfect guy. In the early '90s he shepherded NAFTA and the Chinese trade agreement. So he’s a free trader. He is the guy as we heard opposed Obamacare and who also as a lobbyist and worker for J.P. Morgan had opposed the financial reform.

So when all the major, liberal, semi-radical items that Obama got through in the 111th Congress, he is against it. So he’s the guy you want as the face of the administration for two years. From a political perspective, it's exactly the right choice.

BAIER: Meantime, Jonah there is other changes here. The economic team is changing dramatically. Larry Summers left. Now Gene Sperling is the director of the White House national economic council. Gene Sperling also ties to the Clinton administration. Paul Volcker is leaving as well.  This is a big shake-up in the economic team in a shaky economic time.

GOLDBERG: It is. Remember when Obama pooh-poohed the Clintons as small ball presidency and he wanted to be left wing Reagan and now shazam, he is trying to take the entire Clinton team on board and do a replay of all that while at the same time saying he's not.

BAIER: Juan, we are talking staff changes. We'd be remiss if we didn't ask you about the NPR staff change today. Ellen Weiss, senior vice president for news announced her resignation after a review of the firing of you from NPR. Vivian Schiller, CEO, is keeping her job but will not receive a 2010 bonus. Your reaction to all of that, the announcement today?

WILLIAMS: I think it's good for NPR. The institution wants to go forward as news organization and huge audience has to have reforms from the inside. They have to be open to other point of view of people come in and represent the larger world. Right now they are exercising strict liberal orthodoxy in terms of the kinds of stories that get covered and how stories get reported.  And I think Ellen Weiss was the enforcer of that kind of very ingrown and even incestuous thinking.

BAIER: Do you think Schiller should have lost her job?

WILLIAMS: I’m not going to get into you know I thought I was treated pretty shabbily, and I think people should be treated with some sense of decency. I was surprised by the amount of legitimacy that came into the investigation. I thought it was simply going to be about disparaging me to further justify what they had done, so I'm surprised anything has happened. But clearly someone who called me a psycho and a loon I don't have too many positive feelings about.

BAIER: All right, we'll leave it there. Next up, Republicans target health care and demand a reading of the constitution. So do you think the reading of the constitution was a good move today? Vote in our online poll, Foxnews.com/specialreport.   

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