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Daley’s Talk of Turmoil in Egypt Returns Him to Chicago in 1968

White House Chief of Staff William Daley. Photographer: Tim Boyle/Bloomberg
White House Chief of Staff William Daley. Photographer: Tim Boyle/Bloomberg

White House Chief of Staff William Daley was discussing the Egyptian uprising -- massive protests, police in the streets -- and thought he had captured the impact of it well when he said, “The world will be watching.”

Then, chuckling, Daley caught himself as his mind raced back to 1968, when “the whole world is watching” was an anthem of antiwar demonstrators clashing with police when his father, Richard J. Daley, was mayor of Chicago.

“I think there’s a, you know, the world will be watching, which is a little phrase that someone once used,” Daley said. “Anyway, for those who don’t remember that phrase, that came from the late '60s.”

“The whole world was watching,” he added. “The whole world will be watching this election, OK?”

The president’s top aide went on during a Bloomberg Breakfast in Washington yesterday to mention the use of tear gas and fire hoses in Egypt and again stopped short, acknowledging the parallel with another time of turmoil in the U.S.

Daley, 63, chairman of JPMorgan’s Midwest Banking division and a former Commerce Department secretary before returning to Washington this year to serve as President Barack Obama’s top aide, laughed again as he dredged up another image from violence in Chicago’s Grant Park during the Democratic National Convention that nominated Hubert H. Humphrey for the presidency.

In the White House, Daley replaced fellow Chicagoan Rahm Emanuel, now a candidate favored in the race to replace Daley’s brother, Richard M. Daley, as mayor of Chicago. The current chief of staff said he hears from his predecessor with a surprising frequency.

“I got a lot of advice from -- I mean, everybody gets advice -- from Rahm,” Daley said. “It’s amazing. I’m like, ’Aren’t you running for mayor? Don’t you have anything else to do? Go out and shovel some snow or something.’”

Asked how he could perform his job differently from Emanuel, Daley said, “Our styles are just different, you know, the sort of people, Rahm and me. You know, it’s Rahm very much needed to do it all. And I don’t have such a need.”

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