I get a lot of questions about the White House. I thought the President’s decision yesterday to pick Bill Daley to serve as his new Chief of Staff was a good excuse to talk a little about what it’s like there.
Actually there are about 460 people who work in the White House. They are the hardest working and most able group of people I have ever had the honor to work with. They range from the President, the Vice President, and the Chief of Staff to researchers, staff assistants and analysts.
A tiny handful have offices in the West Wing. The rest are in the Old Executive Office Building next door or in a couple of other buildings scattered around Pennsylvania Avenue.
Everyone in the Executive Branch of the Government, all 4 million of them, work for the President. The White House Staff acts on behalf of the President to interact with the Cabinet Departments, the Administrative Agencies, the Military, the Boards and Commissions, and other agencies and instrumentalities of the Executive Branch.
The Chief of Staff manages the 460 people on the White House Staff and in turn the rest of the 4 million members of the Executive Branch.
So if you have business with the President and the Executive Branch of Government, you have business with the Chief of Staff. It’s a crushing job. The Chief of Staff must be both a manager and an advisor – he works with the President to identify people to staff the government, controls the flow of people and paper into the Oval Office and often serves as an honest broker between the White House, the Executive Branch, the Congress, and the rest of the world. Above all, he serves the interests of the President.
It is not unusual for a President to change his Chief of Staff. Both Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan had four chiefs of staff. Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush each had two.
With Bill Daley, President Obama has called on a seasoned and experienced person. A person who is respected by Business and Labor. By Republicans and Democrats on the Hill. He’s a great guy who – as the President noted yesterday – has politics in his blood. He’ll bring a lot to the White House….even if he is a White Sox fan!