One big difference: Marlo is a West Baltimore gangster trying to muscle in on the East Side, while Hiller is an East Side tough trying to muscle in on the West Side. (Also, I suspect that Hiller would be perfectly comfortable talking up a French-speaking bank clerk.)
Nothing more from me today about The Wire and the state of newspaper journalism. I'm going to leave that to my colleague, Slate media critic Jack Shafer. I mentioned Jack's views on newspaper nostalgia in my last entry, and I'm happy to report that he is going to write a piece today about David Simon's critique of the newspaper business. Since Jack is so much smarter than I am about this subject (and most others, for that matter), I'll read his piece to find out what I really should think.
I agree that Daniels is one of The Wire's thinner creations. (Thinner in all ways: His cadaverous frame, which is meant to suggest that rectitude you're talking about, mostly makes me think: "Someone give that man a sandwich.") That said, his mysterious ugly past is what makes him more than just a stick figure. Like Judge Irwin, he is haunted by a sin that could destroy him. At the same time, that sin—and the deep shame he feels about it—may be what turned him into the upright cop he has become. The Wire is brilliant in giving us characters who sin and overcome it, or rather, harness it to redeem themselves: Cutty, Carver, Daniels, to name a few. And they are all the more persuasive because they stand next to the weaker men, such as Herc, who refuse to own their sins.