Tags: David Axelrod

Axelrod: Credit Us for Being Open About Our ‘Quid Pro Quo’ Policies!


Over in Mike Allen’s Politico newsletter:

David Axelrod tells us the Obama campaign will make a major umbrella issue of what he calls “Romney’s penchant for secrecy”: “George Bush felt it was appropriate to release the names of his bundlers. John McCain did. But not Mitt Romney. Why did George Bush and John McCain release multiple years of tax returns, but not Mitt Romney? Why did Mitt Romney leave Massachusetts government with the hard drives from his computers, and why did his senior aides leave with the hard drives from their computers? Why won’t he be more forthcoming about some of these offshore investments?

“Harkening back to my youth, which extends far beyond yours, there was a show called, ‘I’ve Got A Secret.’ Increasingly, I think that would be the appropriate title for the Romney campaign. There are central issues, but this is a disturbing one and it goes to that question of, like, ‘Who is this guy? What does he stand for? What does he believe? What do we know about him?’”

–Axelrod, on yesterday’s NYT A1er, “White House Welcomes Donors, And Lobbyists Slip in Door, Too”: “The reason that people know who comes to the White House is because for the first time in history, the President ordered that it be so . . . Why do they know who raises money for us? Because we disclose it. The only bundlers Romney discloses are lobbyists who raise money for him, and that reason is because Barack Obama wrote a law when he was in the Senate that required that.”

The article in question:

Many of the president’s biggest donors, while not lobbyists, took lobbyists with them to the White House, while others performed essentially the same function on their visits . . .

Most donors, including Dr. Mohlenbrock and Mr. Kiani, declined to talk about their motivations for giving. But Patrick J. Kennedy, the former representative from Rhode Island, who donated $35,800 to an Obama re-election fund last fall while seeking administration support for a nonprofit venture, said contributions were simply a part of “how this business works.”

If you want to call it ‘quid pro quo,’ fine,” he said. “At the end of the day, I want to make sure I do my part.”

Mr. Kennedy visited the White House several times to win support for One Mind for Research, his initiative to help develop new treatments for brain disorders. While his family name and connections are clearly influential, he said, he knows White House officials are busy. And as a former chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, he said he was keenly aware of the political realities they face.

“I know that they look at the reports,” he said, referring to records of campaign donations. “They’re my friends anyway, but it won’t hurt when I ask them for a favor if they don’t see me as a slouch.”

So Axelrod wants voters to credit the administration for being open about their “quid pro quo” meetings with donors, Democratic power brokers, lobbyists, etc.

Tags: Barack Obama , David Axelrod

Spare the Axelrod, Spoil the Sunday Show


If it won’t be too taxing, check out the April 16 edition of the Morning Jolt . . .

Axelrod-eo Clown

It was a beautiful Sunday in the greater Washington D.C. area – sunny, in the 70s much of the morning – but David Axelrod . . . didn’t have such a great day.

First, I’ll let Jim Treacher spotlight the fantastic verbiage from the president’s chief strategist.

“The choice in this election is between an economy that produces a growing middle class and that gives people a chance to get ahead, and their kids a chance to get ahead, and an economy that continues down the road we’re on.”

Good point, Dave.

The Obama campaign has been able to devote its singular focus to Mitt Romney for less than a week. It’s been a fun one, hasn’t it?

Q: Who’s having a worse week, David Axelrod or his boss? A: Yes.

Step back, everyone! This man’s a communications professional!

Video here.

Jen Rubin dissects the rest of Axelrod’s performance on the Sunday shows:

There was plenty more that Axelrod said that was downright wrong or misleading. He “accuses” Romney of wanting to the rich to pay at a lower tax rate; what he doesn’t say is both Romney and the Simpson-Bowles plan also take away deductions and credits so the rich won’t be paying less taxes relative to the rest of the population.

He uses the president’s favorite straw man: “No one can argue that it makes sense that people who are making a million dollars a year or more to pay less than the average middle class worker in this country.” And no one is. In fact the top 10% of earners have been paying roughly 70 percent of the taxes. The bottom 50 percent pay about 3 percent of the tax load.

But let’s take a step back. Where in this is a plan to accelerate growth and job creation? How does creating a sort of new minimum tax for 4,000 taxpayers assist in the recovery? Maybe that is why Obama and Axelrod spend so much time on gimmicks and phony “fairness” arguments. They haven’t got a clue how to create an economic environment in which investors, employers and consumer will all benefit.

Richard Fernandez at the Belmont Club concludes:

Pity poor Axelrod. What must be truly terrifying is the growing realization among President’s supporters that he could actually lose to Mitt Romney. Yes, to Mitt Romney. Not because Romney is a superlative candidate who is electrifying the American voter but because the contest is shaping up to be ‘anyone but Obama in 2012′.

The core problem is the exent of the President’s incompetence. It had always been thought that even if the President were poor at governance, he would be good at campaigning. They relied on that idea and forgot what all track and field coaches know: that the 100 meter man will not necessarily place well in the 42,195 meter marathon.

President Obama could find a second wind from somewhere. Yet clearly his key strength of futurity — the ability to act as a blank screen upon which people could project their aspirations — can no longer be useful in the face of his track record. Barack Obama in 2008 was a promise. Barack Obama in 2012 is a busted flush. The efforts by Axelrod to make the debate once again about the future of America have largely failed.

And they will continue to fail because many of Obama’s early blunders are now coming to term. He now has a past and and a present in addition to his ever glittering future. And the expected present consists of bulletins from an economy poisoned by his largesse; a war in Southwest Asia run on a crazy strategic premise; a foreign policy whose centerpiece is “leading from behind”; and an environmental policy that has produced one bankrupt energy company after another. Nothing but bad news. His people are demoralized. They are losing it. Perhaps even the Secret Service has caught the air of dissipation in the White House.

The rest of the Jolt looks at the insanity within the Secret Service, insanity within the United Kingdom’s House of Lords . . . and some general all-purpose insanity in the news.

Tags: Barack Obama , David Axelrod , Mitt Romney

Thank Hilary Rosen for This Early Morning Jolt Preview!


Sometimes, the Morning Jolt is just too good to make you wait until the actual morning:

Obama’s Allies Let Out What They Really Think of Ann Romney



So apparently on CNN Wednesday evening, Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen felt the best way to help her preferred candidate, Barack Obama, was to go after Ann Romney, Mitt’s wife.

ANDERSON COOPER: To the Romney campaign’s point, they say they’re focusing on the economy, and that’s what women say they overwhelmingly care about right now in poll after poll. And whether it’s a typical pattern or not, women are seeing jobs come back much more slowly than men are. Is there anything really wrong then, on reaching out to women on an issue that they care about, on the economy?

HILARY ROSEN: Well, first, can we just get rid of this word, “war on women”? The Obama campaign does not use it, President Obama does not use it — this is something that the Republicans are accusing people of using, but they’re actually the ones spreading it. With respect to economic issues, I think actually that Mitt Romney’s right, that ultimately, women care more about the economic well-being of their families and the like. But he doesn’t connect on that issue either. What you have is Mitt Romney running around the country saying, “Well, my wife tells me what women really care about are economic issues.” And, “When I listen to my wife, that’s what I’m hearing.” Guess what? His wife has never actually worked a day in her life. She’s never really dealt with the economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing — in terms of how do we feed our kids, how do we send them to school, and how do — why we worry about their future.

Brittany Cohan: “Democrats are all about choice. Until you are a pro-life woman who stays at home and raises her kids. Then you’re wrong. Or something.”

Erick Erickson: “If raising 5 sons through breast cancer and MS isn’t a real job, I’m not sure what is.”

Our Charles Cooke observes, “An astonishing number of liberals on Twitter have feeds featuring both nonsensical ‘war on women’ claims and mean comments about Ann Romney.” He adds, “Actually, @hilaryr, if the federal government ran its budgets like most mothers do, we wouldn’t have a $900bn structural annual deficit.”

Dana Perino scoffs, “The problem with saying something explosive on a network no one watches is that everyone hears about it and few hear the hollow apology.”

Moe Lane notices, “Hey, do you know what Hilary Rosen considers real work? Pushing copy-protected CDs. That’s right: she was a RIAA lobbyist.”

Ryan Williams, Romney spokesman, notices a report from the Wall Street Journal from February 16: “Obama advisers have occasionally told [DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz] to ‘tone it down’ . . . She agreed with them to enlist . . . Anita Dunn and Hilary Rosen.”

Chelsea Grunwald: “Question for Hillary Rosen, Michelle Obama is technically not employed right now, is her input on female economic issues invalid too?”

Drew M. asks, “Does she have to report her CNN appearance to the FCC as an in-kind contribution to the Romney campaign?”

How bad did it get?

Obama campaign manager Jim Messina, 10:42 p.m. eastern time: “I could not disagree with Hilary Rosen any more strongly. Her comments were wrong and family should be off limits. She should apologize.”

David Axelrod, 10:48 p.m. eastern time: “Also Disappointed in Hilary Rosen’s comments about Ann Romney. They were inappropriate and offensive.”

Oh, by the way:

Hilary Rosen, the chairman and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America, will leave the organization at the end of 2003. Rosen had worked for the RIAA — the trade group that represents the sound recording creators, manufacturers and distributors — for seventeen years and served as the organization’s CEO since 1998 . . . In a statement, Rosen expressed a desire to spend more time with her children as a motivating factor in her decision to resign.

So, when Rosen did that . . . did she stop “really dealing with the economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing” as she believes Ann Romney did?

Do only working mothers have views on economic issues and economic pressures?

Tags: Barack Obama , David Axelrod , Hilary Rosen

Despite Burton Spin, Axelrod Bails on Bill Maher


Bill Burton, Obama’s former who now heads his SuperPAC, insisted last week that it was completely unacceptable for Republicans to not denounce Rush Limbaugh for his comments, but there was no need for Democrats to distance themselves from Bill Maher. Maher made a $1 million donation to Obama’s SuperPAC and is performing at a fundraiser for the Alabama Democratic Party, and has in the past used the c-word and t-word to describe Sarah Palin in his stand-up routines and his HBO show.


“First of all, obviously, some of those things were vulgar and inappropriate and said over the course of years of a comedian’s life. It’s not language I would use or language we would use at Priorities USA,” Burton said. “But the notion that there is an equivalence between what a comedian has said over the course of his career and what the de facto leader of the Republican Party said to sexually degrade a woman who led in a political debate of our time, is crazy.”

If the comparison is crazy, why is Obama’s chief strategist David Axelrod bailing on Maher’s show?

David Axelrod will not be appearing as a guest on “Real Time with Bill Maher,” despite reports last week that he was scheduled to do the show in the next few weeks.

“He’s not scheduled to go on at this time,” said Ben LaBolt, the press secretary for President Obama’s reelection campaign.

So, Mr. Burton, is David Axelrod crazy, or are you just offering an implausible spin that not even your closest allies believe?

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Burton , Bill Maher , David Axelrod

Axelrod Scheduled to Appear on Maher’s Show


In the Thursday edition of the Morning Jolt:

Remember, Bad Words Are Only Bad When Our Political Opponents Use Them

On Wednesday, I shared video of Democratic congresswomen refusing to say anything — even a word — about whether they feel Bill Maher’s comments about Sarah Palin deserve public denunciation the way Rush Limbaugh’s recent us of the S-word does. I also noted that the Alabama Democratic Party is using Bill Maher in a party fundraiser.

Here’s another epic example of hypocrisy, from The Daily:

While slamming Mitt Romney for not standing up to the “strident voices” on his side, a top Obama advisor is planning to spend some quality time with one on his own, The Daily has learned.

David Axelrod, President Obama’s senior campaign strategist, is scheduled to appear on Bill Maher’s late-night talk show within the next few weeks, according to Kelley Carville, an HBO spokesman.

As the controversy over Rush Limbaugh’s comments about Sandra Fluke continued, a former Obama White House official today joined Republicans in pointing out that Maher, who recently donated $1 million to a pro-Obama super PAC, has a history of his misogynistic slurs.

Last year, he was rebuked by the National Organization for Women for calling Sarah Palin a “dumb tw*t.”

“Palin is right to point out that Bill Maher has said some pretty disgusting things about women, comedian or not. They are rush-like,” Austan Goolsbee, the former chairman of President Obama’s Council on Economic Advisors, and currently a professor at the University of Chicago, tweeted.

I’m not really sure that the Democrats’ weeklong beating of the drums of fury of Rush’s unforgivably foolish comment really will work for them. Anyone paying an iota of attention will notice that there’s plenty of obnoxious, foul, profane, crude, sexist, objectifying, demeaning, snarling, bilious language floating around our culture. By and large, political figures only object when it’s their allies who are the target of that talk, and make excuses when their allies shoot their mouths off. It goes beyond hypocrisy; what it means is that most of those who shriek the loudest in outrage are faking the outrage. They’re only angry when mean things are said about people they like. People they disagree with are fair game.

A consistent standard either way would be preferable. I could happily live and work in a society with a more civil, respectful, even-keeled and mature public discourse. I could also function in one where our issues of the day were discussed in an atmosphere where anything goes, let the F-bombs fly, politics-ain’t-beanbag, only-sticks-and-stones-can-break-my-bones rules apply. (I’d prefer the former, I think.) But we have this insane double standard where one side manages to make a stink any time their feelings are hurt, and the same behavior from the other party is ignored, dismissed, excused, or even celebrated. (Think about it, we had to argue whether it was okay for David Letterman to tell jokes about Alex Rodriguez knocking up Sarah Palin’s daughter. Now imagine the reaction if any comedian told a joke about the Obama daughters getting knocked up.)

Tags: Barack Obama , David Axelrod , Sarah Palin

Axelrod: No More ‘Fairy Dust’ Talk! Stick to Algae!


The top adviser to President-Heal-the-Sick-and-Stop-the-Oceans’-Rise laments the “magic fairy dust” talk in politics.

“We always want lower gas prices, because that’s good for our economy.  The question is whether it’s realistic to say, as the speaker did, that there’s some magic fairy dust that you can sprinkle and get $2.50 gas?  The American people know that’s not the case,” said [David] Axelrod.

David Axelrod says it’s time to stop the “Magic Fairy Dust” talk of $2.50/gallon gas and focus on real solutions. Like algae-powered cars.

As the poster of that video notes, “Obama’s solution to $5/gal gas is to spend years, even decades, developing a new fuel, creating a new distribution system, and have everyone buy new cars that run on this fuel. I wonder how that will help the people hurt the most by high gas prices.”

Tags: Barack Obama , David Axelrod , Gas Prices

Americans Paying $33 More Per Month for Gas Than Last Year


This morning, Obama adviser David Axelrod cheerfully spotlights a Bloomberg story declaring:

The U.S. is the closest it has been in almost 20 years to achieving energy self-sufficiency, a goal the nation has been pursuing since the 1973 Arab oil embargo triggered a recession and led to lines at gasoline stations.

The recent increased use of fracking, shale-gas technology, and directional drilling are all wonderful developments — all opposed, of course, by the president’s Green allies. The article talks about the boom in North Dakota, which makes one wonder why the administration wouldn’t want the Keystone XL Pipeline to expand our energy production and transportation capacity.

Meanwhile, all of this surging production still isn’t helping consumers, and that’s likely to be the factor that most moves perception of the economy and votes in the year ahead:

Last month turned out to be the most expensive January ever at U.S. gasoline pumps, boosted by growing economic strength.

January is typically a month of falling gasoline prices because fuel demand falters in the slower travel weeks that follow the year-end holidays.

Not so this year.

In January, retail gasoline prices averaged $3.37 a gallon, according to the Oil Price Information Service, a private fuel information service. That compared with the previous record average for the month of $3.095 a gallon, set last year. In 2010, January gasoline prices averaged just $2.71 a gallon.

The new record meant more pain in Americans’ budgets. A typical household, burning about 50 gallons of gasoline a month, paid about $168.50 for that fuel in January, or $33 more than in January 2010.

Tags: Barack Obama , David Axelrod , Energy , Gas Prices

Adviser for President Expiration Date Demands Consistency


In today’s Morning Jolt, dramatic news about the Ground Zero mosque, a spotlight on a particular article in the latest issue of NR, and an excuse to link to the opening credits of an often-beloved 1980s television show . . . and then, of course . . .

Ax, You’re on the Wrong Candidate’s Team to Make the Flip-Flopper Charge

The chief adviser for President Expiration Date says that there’s a question as to what Mitt Romney’s core principles are.

“I think there’s this question about what his core principles are,” Axelrod said, citing changes in Romney’s positions from earlier in his political career when he was running for U.S. Senate and Massachusetts governor. “Then he was a pro choice, pro gay rights, pro environmental candidate for office. Then he decided to run for president. Did a 180 on all of that.”

“So time and time and time again he shifts – and you get the feeling that there is no principle too large for him to throw over in pursuit of political office,” Axelrod added.

Axelrod has recently turned a laser-like focus to Romney, holding a conference call last Wednesday to critique Romney’s record and his remarks at last Tuesday’s GOP debate.

“If I were Governor Romney I’d be worried about all these changes in position and  . . . what kind of message that sends to voters,” Axelrod told “This Week” anchor Christiane Amanpour.

Really? Governor Romney has to worry about being attacked for inconsistency by a president who attacked Hillary Clinton for supporting the individual mandate, who promised all of the health care negotiations would be on C-SPAN, that anyone making less than $250,000 wouldn’t see their taxes raised a dime, who now is a fan of recess appointments, who pledged to close Guantanamo Bay within one year, who pledged to renegotiate NAFTA, who pledged a net spending cut, who would press the Chinese on humany rights, who wouldn’t allow lobbyists to work in his White House, who pledged to avoid bringing “the same Washington players” into his administration, posting every law on the White House web site for five days before signing it, who pledged to end the income tax for seniors making less than $50,000, who pledged to end no-bid contracts above $25,000, who pledged to double federal funding for cancer research, who pledged to double the size of the Peace Corps, double funding for afterschool programs, to increase the minimum wage to $9.50 per hour, to support a human mission to the moon by 2020, to establish term-limit for the Director of National Intelligence, to enact a windfall profits tax, to create a cap-and-trade system, to recognize the Armenian Genocide, and to introduce a comprehensive immigration reform plan in his first year. (One long list of expiration dates here, PolitiFact’s list of Obama’s broken promises can be found here.) 

To be fair, we know what the core principles of Barack Obama are: blaming corporate jet owners and ATMS for job losses, shrugging his shoulders at scandals like Solyndra and Fast and Furious, fundraisers, telling the American people they’ve gone soft, and golf.

Still, at Legal Insurrection, William Jacobson feels like Obama’s right-hand-man’s arguments sound . . . familiar. “AxelPlouffe is going after Romney as a flip flopper.  Hey, that’s our gig! Axelrod says voters are unsure about Romney’s “core principles“.  No problem there for Obama, we know exactly what his core principles are.”

As Jeff Poor reports, the Obama team feels quite eager to get the general election started already: “Earlier in the program, chief Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod made it clear that the president’s reelection strategy was focused on attacking former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney with little regard for the other GOP contenders, including Cain and Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Will said that President Obama’s campaign strategy will be to go after the Republican candidate because his administration’s “record isn’t particularly appetizing.”

“They’ve clearly decided that Romney is the problem,” [George] Will continued. “And they have a problem with Romney because they’re not going to run on their record because the record isn’t particularly appetizing. Therefore they’re going to run on the fitness of the Republican candidate. And I think precisely because how do we say this, Romney showed a certain versatility of conviction over the years, it’s hard to nail him down.”

“Versatility of conviction.” Nobody does it like Will.

Tags: Barack Obama , David Axelrod , Mitt Romney

President All-or-Nothing


In the coming days, you’ll probably hear a lot about how unreasonable Congressional Republicans are being, and how they refuse to compromise.

On “Good Morning America” this morning, Obama’s chief strategist David Axelrod declared that Obama’s jobs plan must be passed in its entirety; no provisions may be rejected or excepted.

Obama’s top campaign strategist, David Axelrod, said Tuesday that the White House wants Congress to act on the entire bill rather than approaching it piecemeal. “We’re not in a negotiation to break up the package,” he said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “It’s not an a la carte menu.”

But remember, in the MSM narrative, it’s the Republicans who are being stubborn and inflexible.

Tags: Barack Obama , David Axelrod

Axelrod Denies Politico Story on Get-Romney Strategy


I am informed that on MSNBC’s Morning Joe this morning, Obama’s chief strategist David Axelrod declared that the recent Politico article suggesting the Obama campaign was ready to slam Mitt Romney as “weird” and to “kill” his campaign early is false. “All of that is garbage,” Axelrod said.

Axelrod said he would fire anyone who is depicting Romney as weird, “using that kind of terminology.”

If so, good for him. But somehow I hear this and cynically conclude that the “Romney is too strange to be president” message will just be outsourced to non-campaign staffers and Democrats not employed by the campaign.

Axelrod also said the president “hopes to” join his family on vacation in Martha’s Vineyard next week, which seems to suggest he might not join them – and that perhaps the White House understands the dangers of the optics of Obama relaxing on vacation while the market tumbles another couple hundred points…

Tags: Barack Obama , David Axelrod , Mitt Romney

To Axelrod, Our Spending Woes Began in January


Yesterday’s talking point from David Axelrod, John Kerry, and others was that Friday’s Standard and Poor’s decision should be considered a “Tea Party Downgrade.”

From January 20, 2009 (the day Obama took office) to January 3, 2011 (the day the 112th Congress was sworn in), the total federal debt increased from $10,626,877,048,913.08 to $13,997,932,781,828.89. That is an increase of $3,371,055,732,915.81, or $3.3 trillion.

From January 3 to yesterday, the debt increased from $13,997,932,781,828.89 to $14,564,970,167,709.38.

That is an increase of $567,037,385,880.49, or $567 billion.

So in Axelrod’s world, somehow the $3.3 trillion debt increase under President Obama and Speaker Pelosi in the two years their party had complete control of the spending process is NOT responsible for the credit downgrade, but the $567 billion spent since January IS responsible.

Tags: David Axelrod , Debt , John Kerry , Tea Parties

Even the Worst Political Hacks Are People, Too


In the Jolt, some thoughts on the egregious mockery of Trig Palin over at Wonkette.

What the crew at Wonkette are arguing is that children are fair game. They deserve it, if you’re angry enough at the parents. The author, Jack Stuef, could just have easily written about Sarah Palin. He could have argued about her policies or any one of a million topics. He chose her child.

I hope when I reached my angriest, I’m not like this, and I hope you’re not like this either. I think it’s probably a good sign if you still see the other side as human beings, and you refrain from dismissing entire sections of the population as “parasites,” as Andrew Sullivan said of people who work on Wall Street this weekend. Here’s an example: Early in Obama’s first year, NBC did an hourlong prime-time special, entitled, “Inside the Obama White House.” Those who feared an hour of propaganda found plenty to object to in the program. But there were two moments that stuck with me. The first was David Axelrod, talking to Brian Williams about living several states away from his adult daughter who has, in his words, “profound problems with epilepsy,” and showing a painting she made that he keeps in his office. Then Rahm Emanuel talked about working in Washington while his wife and three children remained back in Chicago, not seeing them for weeks at a time. Apparently, even fire-breathing Rahm had days where he came into Axelrod’s office and talked about the difficulty of being away from his family for so long.  (This section of the program can be found here.)

Now, regular readers of this newsletter know that derision and mockery of David Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel are pretty much standard fare. In their professional lives, Axelrod cynically exploited a way-too-friendly media to elect a fundamentally unprepared man to be president; if Rahm Emanuel were not protected by the “D” after his name, the table-stabbing, fish-sending anecdotes would be cited as evidence of him being a raving maniac, not merely a passionate, foul-mouthed operator.

But in those moments, you can see two men, working long hours and away from their loved ones and wondering if they’re making a mistake and sacrificing what matters most. They’re fathers and husbands. Human. With vulnerabilities and regrets and doubts. Somewhere in Chicago, there are children who miss their dads, kids who have never given you or me any reason to dislike them.

What’s striking about this is that we have people – quite a few people, I increasingly suspect – in the political world whose entire interaction is based on sticking it to the other side. This is what matters most to them. Vengeance, or lashing out, against their political foes is preeminent in their hierarchy of values, outranking everything.

Tags: David Axelrod , Political Discourse , Rahm Emanuel

Axelrod’s Backup Plan: Blago for President 2008!


Obviously, we can be skeptical of almost everything that comes out of Rod Blagojevich’s mouth. But it is an entertaining claim:

“In fact, David Axelrod, who works for Obama and very correctly picked the right horse, after the 2004 presidential election, called me the Wednesday after,” Blagojevich said in an interview on WGN Monday, “and talked to me about considering running for president in 2008.”


This story isn’t that outlandish. At the time, Blagojevich was governor of a major state and as he notes, the first Democrat governor of Illinois in 26 years. Obama had just been elected to the Senate and faced all of the much-discussed problems – inexperience, an unusual name, the question of whether the U.S. was ready to elect a black president, and so on.

Note in the interview, Blagojevich says to not write him off from having a political comeback; he declares he’s working on a book about great comebacks. “The chapter on me is waiting to be written.”

Tags: Barack Obama , David Axelrod , Rod Blagojevich

Axelrod: Americans Didn’t Vote for Ideology, Yet Elected These Ideologists


Obama’s chief strategist David Axelrod assesses the showdown over the budget:

Just last year, voters “didn’t vote for more ideology. But yet they swept in a group that is very partisan and ideological,” he said. “You see that up in Wisconsin,” which has been divided in a war over union rights.

Isn’t this like arguing that Americans didn’t vote for conservative policies, even though they elected a lot of conservatives? (Notice the term “swept in” — he makes it sound accidental, like America was cleaning the front steps and got careless with the broom.)

Obama argued that his victory was a mandate for his agenda — recall, “I won.” But somehow Republican victories at the Senate, House, and gubernatorial levels carry no mandate; through some sort of giant national misunderstanding, Americans completely misread the agenda of the candidates they elected. An electorate that somehow knew precisely what it wanted in 2008 became careless and ignorant in 2010.


Tags: Barack Obama , David Axelrod

Will Deval Patrick’s 2010 Strategy Save Obama?


A fascinating look at the strategic thinking in the White House right now, over at The New Republic:

Of all the historical analogies urged on Obama following November’s drubbing—Truman in ’48, Reagan after ’82, Clinton after ’94—the one the White House has opted for is easily the most obscure. That would be Patrick in ’10—as in Deval Patrick, the recently re-elected governor of Massachusetts. Months after Patrick signed the state’s first sales-tax hike in 33 years, political chatterers gave him little chance of surviving to a second term. Not only did he face the same foul, anti-incumbent mood that elected Scott Brown, he’d drawn an attractive GOP candidate in businessman Charlie Baker.

Patrick’s handlers recommended that he distance himself from liberals in the state legislature—and, above all, downplay the tax increase. The governor overruled them. His first commercial highlighted the “combination of deep cuts and new revenue” he’d accepted to close the state’s budget shortfall. “He all but said, ‘I raised taxes.’ Jesus Christ,” recalls one still-traumatized adviser. “He thought the way to do it was to be true to what he ran on [in 2006]”—the belief that voters will support someone who levels with them, even if they don’t love every decision. In the end, Patrick and his “politics of conviction” won by a comfortable seven-point margin.

It’s not hard to see the appeal of this narrative in Obamaland, whose principal also fancies himself a teller of hard truths. The way the president’s inner circle sees it, the re-election of Patrick—a longtime Obama pal and former client of his message guru David Axelrod and campaign manager David Plouffe—affirms the president’s bias against desperate reinventions. “[Patrick] may be a model for Obama in 2012,” says one strategist close to the White House. “Let them write you off for dead, say how stupid you are”—while you remind voters why they fell for you in the first place. So far, at least, the pundits are living up to their end of the bargain. The question is whether the president can live up to his.

Say, fellas . . .

1) Who’s going to be your Tim Cahill? This article doesn’t mention that Patrick won 48 percent of the vote in heavily Democratic Massachusetts. Patrick won because the anti-incumbent vote was split by Cahill, who won the 2006 treasurer’s election as a Democrat, served for a while under Patrick, and then rebelled, changing his party to “unenrolled” (equivalent to “independent” in Massachusetts) so he could challenge Patrick. Despite Charlie Baker and the RGA spending enormous resources to try to drive him out, Cahill won 8 percent on Election Day. (A detailed analysis of Cahill’s spoiler role can be found here.)

2) You can only alienate so many supporters before you’re doomed. Deval Patrick’s share of the vote in 2010 was 7 percentage points lower than his share in 2006. If Obama sees similar proportional erosion, he’ll be trying to win the presidency with 46 percent of the vote.

3) Guys, it’s Massachusetts. Any Democrat who does not mock Red Sox fans has a much larger margin for error and cushion than a Democrat running nationally.

4) The economy in 2012 remains an X factor, but it’s worth remembering unemployment rate in Massachusetts was 8.4 percent in September and 8.1 percent in October — not all that good, but almost 2 points better than the national average. Patrick could at least point to some signs of economic recovery on his watch: “The Massachusetts economy, which relies more on technology and business spending, and less on housing and consumer spending, has recovered from the recent recession faster than the nation as a whole, creating jobs over the past year at about twice the national rate. Since January, the state has added nearly 50,000 jobs, but still has far to go to recover all the jobs lost in the last recession.”

There are a lot of reasons why the Obama team would think of Deval Patrick as a role model for the 2012 campaign — he’s a David Axelrod client, after all — but at this point, there are a lot more reasons to think his strategies won’t get the same results on a national level.

Tags: Barack Obama , David Axelrod , Deval Patrick

It’s a Hard-Knock Life, for Them


In the Monday morning edition of the Jolt, a look at David Axelrod’s messages on the Sunday talk shows, Eric Holder’s possible second lawsuit against Arizona, Democratic governors complaining about the administration, the expiration dates of optimistic assessments of the oil spill by Robert Gibbs . . . and then the closing note:

ADDENDA: If you don’t like your job . . . you’re probably not a federal worker: “In the largest-ever survey of the federal workforce, and the first to be conducted by the Obama administration. . . . Three-quarters of respondents said they feel a sense of personal accomplishment, 8 in 10 like the work they do, and more than 90 percent think it is important. In addition, two-thirds of respondents said they’re satisfied with their pay.”

Good to see they’re not complaining about the pay: “Federal employees earn higher average salaries than private-sector workers in more than eight out of 10 occupations, a USA TODAY analysis of federal data finds. Overall, federal workers earned an average salary of $67,691 in 2008 for occupations that exist both in government and the private sector, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. The average pay for the same mix of jobs in the private sector was $60,046 in 2008, the most recent data available.”

Notice that 8 out of 10 are paid more than the private sector, but only two-thirds are satisfied with pay.

Tags: David Axelrod

The Mysterious Disappearing Quote of David Axelrod


Fascinating: A quote attributed to David Axelrod appears in the print version of a Dan Balz story in the Washington Post but doesn’t appear in the online version.

The quote:

“There’s no doubt we have more exposure because we have more incumbents,” White House senior adviser David Axelrod said. “I don’t minimize that, and obviously we have a challenge there. But there’s no affirmation out there for the Washington Republican establishment.”

I wonder if the quote got cut because it’s . . . well, kind of stupid. 

Sure, I wouldn’t characterize the mood of the country as Boehner-mania, but the point is moot because there isn’t much of a Washington Republican establishment left. There are 41 GOP senators and 178 members of the House of Representatives. Of the senators, only 11 are running for reelection this year. Of those, the only ones who could be argued to be remotely in trouble are John McCain of Arizona (and that’s mostly within the GOP primary), David Vitter of Louisiana (and he leads handily), and Richard Burr of North Carolina (and he, too, leads healthily). In the House, you can count the number of vulnerable GOP incumbents on one hand: Joseph Cao of Louisiana, new guy Charles Djou in Hawaii . . . maybe Charlie Dent in Pennsylvania or Dan Lundgren in California? At that point, you’re in the “Leans Republican” category.

Maybe you can argue that Senate candidates Mike Castle in Delaware and Mark Kirk of Illinois represent part of the “Washington Republican establishment,” but both are doing at least fairly well in recent polling; Castle leads handily, Kirk leads by a little, both in very Democratic states. (Axelrod could argue that Democrats might pick up their House seats, but that doesn’t really reflect upon the “Washington Republican establishment,” that reflects mostly upon the candidate who aim to win their seats, Bob Dold and one of four possible Delaware Republicans.)

Democrats will probably try to argue that some Republicans who haven’t been in Washington in a while — Dan Coats in Indiana, or Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania — are “Washington insiders” or part of the “Washington establishment.” Except that they’re running against current members of Congress.

Axelrod is correct that so far, the country hasn’t embraced the GOP and all it stands for — although the generic ballot polling looks awfully close these days. Either way, the concept of a “Washington Republican establishment” will be moot in most races. The “Washington Democratic establishment,” however, will be a key point in hundreds of races from coast to coast.

Tags: 2010 , David Axelrod

How Joe Lieberman Differs From Charlie Crist


This morning, David Axelrod is insisting that Crist’s departure proves that Republicans no longer have a big tent, and that the Florida governor was “run out” of the GOP.

Two words, sir: Parker Griffith.

Someone asked how Crist’s departure from his party compared to Lieberman’s in 2006. My first thought is that while there are similarities, Lieberman had a stronger case that the state as a whole liked him even if a slim majority of the primary voters didn’t; Joe-mentum won 48 percent in the primary and then went on to win 49.7 percent in a three-way race.

By contrast, Floridians are not clamoring for Charlie Crist to be their next senator, no matter how you slice the salami. Crist is averaging 28.9 percent in the GOP primary and 27.8 percent in a three-way race.

Another key difference: As far as I can tell, Joe Lieberman never pledged to not run as an independent, as Charlie Crist did a month ago on Fox News Sunday.

Tags: Charlie Crist , David Axelrod , Joe Lieberman


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