In the fifth installment of his O'Neill Death Watch series, Tim Noah points out some information I hadn't heard yet, which really does seem to point toward the hapless O'Neill's possible departure. He flags a New York Post report that Cheney is already interviewing possible replacements.
Anyway, at Talking Points we try to take the longer view, look beyond the ephemera of the moment to the deep structure of rumor, and of course add a healthy dose of wishful thinking.
So maybe Mitch Daniels is having some rough sailing too!
This article from National Journal says Daniels' relationship with Republican appropriators on Capitol Hill has hit a low point. Senator Stevens (R-Alaska) told David Baumann that Daniels should "go back home to Indiana. I can't do anything about that relationship."
Of course, OMB Directors never make a lot of friends on the Hill, I'll grant you. But the subtext of the article seems to be that people on the Hill are coming to appreciate one of the points TPM frequently notes. That is, that Daniels is ... well, just a bit of an $@(*&.
Then there's this comment from Daniels' recent speech to the National Press Club:
MODERATOR: Do you have, sort of, a target figure on how large a deficit that would be acceptable to the administration?
Is that funny? And did the president really say that?
DANIELS: Have not set a target figure. The president had said, throughout his campaign and long before these events were visible to us, that he hoped to always operate in the black and, in fact, at levels beyond the Social Security surplus, but that there were three conditions under which a deficit would be acceptable. Those being war, recession or emergency. And as he said to me, shortly after the 11th, "Lucky me, I hit the trifecta."
As I first mentioned on September 13th, in cases like these I like to recur to the Clinton Rule (CR) ("If Bill Clinton were being attacked in such and such a way would I think it was fair?"). Needless to say, if Bill Clinton were ever caught uttering such words in this context, he'd be crucified for the basest cynicism. But applying the CR tells me in this case that all sorts of verbally and morally off-color things get said in private, in jest, and in the heat of the moment.
So you have to give folks the benefit of the doubt. But this stretches things a bit. And in any case, presumably that was the sort of 'shooting the *&$%' comment that was meant to stay private.
Daniels' repeating it, or perhaps originating it, tells you something about him. For Mitch Daniels it really does seem to be a matter of, 'Phew! Lucky this world crisis came along. Otherwise, I'd have a lot of spinning to do about these budget numbers...'
Eventually, this sort of attitude and those kind of comments will catch up with him. Can you say Su-nu-nu?