The proliferation of partisan cable television news and the increasing demand for immediate answers to complex issues have helped fuel the divisive atmosphere in national politics, former presidential chief of staff William M. Daley told DuPage County area business and government leaders Tuesday.
Daley was the keynote speaker at the fifth annual DuPage Regional Business Outlook in Oakbrook Terrace. Daley, who served as chief of staff for President Barack Obama and secretary of commerce under President Bill Clinton, said the working atmosphere in Washington grew significantly worse between his two jobs in federal government.
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"In those 10 years I've been out of government, it's changed dramatically ... literally, the nastiness, the meanness," Daley said. "And under President Clinton, it's not like we sat around and held hands. The feel is very different this time."
Daley blamed what he called "the overemphasis of cable television and the sort of mantra of each side" as a reason for that change, noting the "constant negativity and clash that has to be there" has now become a part of the political climate in Washington.
"That has truly, deeply seeped into our politics and that is bad for democracy," he said.
In addition, the constant demand for immediate answers to complex issues and events has made it tougher for government officials to lead.
"In the new world we're in, there are no news cycles, it's just constant information and the need today for answers," he said. "This is the greatest challenge to government. People want answers because you can Google an answer."
Things need to slow down a bit, he said, so authorities can assess facts "because until you get the facts, you really don't know what the answers are.
"And sometimes it is best to say 'no comment' because I don't know the answer yet," Daley said, adding -- in reference to a quote from his father, legendary Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley -- "because I don't want to comment."