Category Archives: david axelrod

>OBSERVATION: How to spell Obama? D-A-V-I-D- A-X-E-L-R-O-D

>When looking at the making of the president 2008, the most important single factor has been largely overlooked or under appreciated by the press. David Axelrod.

Sure, he has appeared on a few interview programs and taken the podium at some press conferences, but for a guy in his position, he has maintained a surprisingly low profile — at least before Election Day. That is the Axelrod style.

As political consultants in the same Chicago political arena for many years, but on opposite ends of the political spectrum, I have had modest association with him on various campaign trials. I have known him, and of him, since he was a reporter. We have been counterpoints on any number of talk shows. Can’t say I know him well personally, but I do know him professionally.

David is probably the most determined and aggressive political guru in America, but he has almost no desire to be a celebrity in his own right. He keeps his total focus on his clients, and he has impressive ones – Mayor Daley, Bill Clinton and a number of leading Democrat candidates across the country. He does not confuse celebrity with success, as many political advisors do.

I would argue against anyone who says that Barack Obama could have made it to the White House without David. Frankly, without David, I think Obama would still be a community-based activist. Don’t get me wrong. Obama is brilliant, articulate and ambitious, and he brings a lot of natural candidate talent to the table — but so do a lot of other people.

Obama is a great raw product, but with many distasteful features. David is the genius who could not only package and sell Obama by highlighting and playing on his strong points, but who to make the other products unpalatable by comparison.

I never thought Obama could make it to the White House without a major crises and an inept opponent (and he got both). He has run for office four times. With more ambition than brains, he took on Chicago Congressman Bobby Rush in a Democrat primary. He didn’t win against this seasoned and savvy opponent, but he did get noticed. Lowering his sights, Obama went for the Illinois State Senate. Rather than risk a competent opponent, Obama, with the help of the fabled Chicago Democrat machine, used aggressive technical challenges — and the cooperation of machine election officials — to remove all his opponents form the ballot — including the incumbent. He ran unopposed.

His jump to the U.S. Senate was a bold endeavor for a neophyte state legislator. Again, it was ambition over brains, but this time he got lucky. He signed up David Axelrod. Then he got even luckier. The hapless Illinois GOP first floundered with millionaire businessman Jack Ryan, a worthy opponent until it was revealed that he and his movie star wife (Jeri Ryan) had visited sex clubs in New York and Paris.

The Republicans, in an effort to advance their reputation as the stupid party, imported conservative gadfly Alan Keyes, a kooky black perennial presidential candidate. After only a couple undistinguished years in the Senate, Obama succumbed to the siren call of the presidency. Again it as a precocious move – challenging the all but certain nomination of Hillary Clinton. This time Obama was facing real competition, but he got lucky again. The Early primaries featured a bunch of moderate white candidates to divide up the vote – leaving Obama with a unified black/progressive core.

Once he secured the nomination, he was just another unelectable Democrat … unless … unless there was some seismic political event or the GOP opponent screwed up. Again, he was lucky. Instead of “or,” Obama got “and.” The economy tanked at just the right time – as the Republicans were experiencing the beginning of a post-election surge. AND … the Republicans offered up maverick John McCain, who proceeded to run one of the worse campaigns in American history.

But, what about David Axelrod?

NONE of this would have gotten Obama elected had it not been for the genius of Axelrod. Conversely, I am convinced David would have guided Clinton to the Oval Office had he accepted her invitation to be part of the Clinton team, as he was in the past.

No defection cost Clinton more than David Axelrod. David IS strategy. You hire him, you get the Axelrod method — and a winning one it is. The Clinton campaign should have made him an offer he could not refuse. The decision to let him go doomed her candidacy, as it turned out.

David never believed in the conventional political wisdom that you do not respond to negative attacks. In fact, David takes the position that no attack, no matter how seemingly insignificant, should go unchallenged. Without this aggressive and effective strategy of refutation, Obama’s candidacy would have sunk early on under the weight of mini-scandals, questionable associations, a cloudy, if not shady, past and a political philosophy far too liberal for mainstream America.

Rather than allow his past to be discovered by others, like his one time opponent, Jack Ryan, Obama laid out most of it in his books. As the political jargon goes, he “inoculated” against criticism. This is classic Axelrod.

David knew that to become the President, Obama had to look and sound presidential. Orating like Jesse Jackson was a kiss of death. Obama’s Harvard education and artidulation were natural tools. David created and controlled the visual and verbal imagery. He treated Obama like an actor, and he, David, would show him how to play the part of President of the United States. The clothes, the staging, the photos, the gestures, the oratory. All very carefully crafted and scripted.
Just as important as David’s craftsmanship was Obama’s willingness to stick to the script. He played the part to perfection. In an amazing turn-about, the first black candidate for the presidency actually looked, acted and sounded more presidential than the classic gray-haired white guy.

More than any consultant I know, David understands the issue of credibility. Having taught college-level course in credibility, and having invented a credibility management concept, I have always been in awe of David. He never took one of my courses, but he is a natural. He knows, that if you destroy an opponents credibility, there is nothing they can say or do to convince the public of anything.

If you look at the Obama campaign through the credibility lens, you can see how the campaign used every possible technique to strip first Hillary Clinton, then McCain, and finally the whole Republican Party, or their credibility. Every time McCain changed his mind, or said something that seemed at odds with an earlier statement, the Obama campaign trumpeted it. These “inconsistencies” were then elevated to lies. McCain lies. Palin lies. Bush lies. Lies. Lies. Lies. Republican = lies.

The success of this strategy was even more impressive since McCain came into this campaign aboard the “straight talk express.” HE was the straight talker. HE was the man good as his word. HE was the tell-it-like-it-is guy. Thanks to Axelrod, the straight talk express got derailed, and McCain limped into town with the reputation of a snake oil salesman — or more specifically, the third term of the unpopular George Bush. With the very credibility of the Repbulican brand damaged, Obama’s every word became gospel and McCain could say nothing believeable to the electorate.

David also has a great talent for generating discipline. Rarely will one see a campaign were the entire team worked so well together. Through his own example, David was able to get the team to set aside the usual political differences and prima donna attitudes and focus on two things — candidate and message.

Wherever Axelrod lands in the coming months – White House aide, outside consultant – he will play a major role in guiding the entire Democrat ship as its guru-in-chief. He will be the strategy connection between his President, the Democrat National Committee, and the Senate and house campaign committees. He will be issuing the guidelines to the state parties and candidates. David could well be the most powerful political figure in America next to President Obama. He is the personification of the Chicago machine coming to Washington. He is Karl Rove on steroids.

Just you watch.

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>REACT: Obama a reformer? Puhleeeez

>In a recent Chicago Sun-Times column, Carol Marin advised Barack Obama to start naming his Cabinet as a means to get past the lipstick level journalism of the day. She suggested naming U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald as Attorney General. A splendid choice, but the usually insightful columnist seems to have forgotten where she resides. So, I thought I should send her this letter.

Dear Carol,

I am a great fan of you and your professional work. However, your recent Obama column shocked me for your lack of realization of the world in which you live. Apparently you got suckered into believing that Obama IS a reformer. Oh sure, he is selling that image nationally where people do not know Chicago and Illinois politics. But, you should know better.

Obama is the product of arguably the most corrupt political operation in America. For Mayor Daley to sanctimoniously deny the existence of “the Machine” is as absurd as his father once denying the presence of “the Mob” in Chicago.

(I have to interject here. LMAO The photo on the right of Obama and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley is the first photo that pops up on google images when you search for “Chicago political corruption.” And you think life ain’t full of funnyironies? Actually, under that search there are quite a few photos of Obama and nefarious characters. Okay, back to the letter.)

Obama was first elected to office by knocking all the competition off the ballot in the good old Chicago tradition. He was the benefactor of the patronage of some of the sleaziest influence peddlers and inside wheeler-dealers – one of whom, Tony Rezko (left), is now a convicted criminal.

Obama endorsed all the machine candidates, and in doing so he endorsed flagrant cronyism, nepotism and illegal patronage. His political god-father is Illinois Senate President Emil Jones, who supported legislative pay raises while opposing every bit of reform legislation. His chief political consultant, David Axelrod has been the flack for the machine for years. And on and on.

And what about Obama, himself? He has never … not once … produced or supported any reform legislation. He has never voiced criticism of the corrupt practices of the Machine. Most recently, he was asked to encourage Jones to pass ethics legislation. He demurred. Never once has he pointed a reform finger at the corruption within his own political base. He never challenged the establishment. He never voiced his support for whistle blowers and investigators. He never promoted “change” in Illinois – believable or otherwise.

On the other hand, as a state senator, he played Chicago-style politics by doling out taxpayer money to friends and supporters without much oversight and accountability. Several of his community improvement projects failed and the money “vanished.” He left his district not much better than he found it.

On the matter of Fitzgerald (right), Carol, you completely missed the mark. As President, Obama will do what the Machine demands – fire Fitzgerald. The most serious problem the machine has is a truly honest, independent REFORM U.S. Attorney. Whatever promises or lip service you may hear to the contrary, Obama will serve the Machine, not the public interest, in this matter. He owes the Machine bosses that much. He will deliver in the good old Chicago way.

>OBSERVATION: Obama shifts from pre-emptive winner to panicked underdog

>Here we are in the post convention season, and the tide has taken a dramatic turn. While most media observers lavished praise on the tightly controlled and well executed Democrat convention, and reported the Republican convention as a bit of a disaster – rescheduling around a hurricane (the ghost of Katrina haunting the GOP), lackluster speeches, the Palin blunder, etc.

The only problem in this media-driven imagery was public reaction. Seems like more folks actually watched the Republicans. Left-wing pundits spent a week noting with awe that 38 million people tuned into Obama’s fascist-background acceptance speech, but grew silent when the numbers came in on Sarah Palin. She topped 40 million views, — WITHOUT the black stations that carried only Barack Obama.

Despite the panicked predictions from Democrat liberal feminists that “women will not be fooled by Palin,” her post convention numbers soared. It appears that as many as 12 percent of women voters switched allegiance to Sarah – and 23 percent of the Hillary voters are going for McCain despite what was described as the most enthusiastic support from both the Clintons.

All of this pushed McCain into a narrow, but sustainable, lead.

Now here is where I get a little self-serving. I have recently read a number of columns and blogs that talk about the unexpected turn around. They say Obama has blown an all but certain victory.

For those of you who read this blog, you know that the recent events are totally consistent with my past writings. Obama never had the numbers to win. Right after the South Caroline primary, I proffered his defeat. More recently, I even suggested that this campaign was essentially over.

Well folks … hang on to your remotes. This campaign is about to get really ugly and very racial. I have said in the past that David Axelrod (right), Obama’s senior guru, is one of the toughest and most ruthless political consultants on the scene. He makes a Pit Bull look like a Poodle. (I mean, take alook at his photo and tell me he doesn’t look like a guy who would drown puppies).

As long as nice-nice was working, Axelrod will behave. Now that the bloody sweat of fear and desperation is permeating the Obama camp, you can expect Axelrod to unleash the rabid dogs of political warfare. He suddenly is representing the underdog. (What’s with all this “dog” stuff? If Palin had made it a Piranha instead of a Pit Bull, would I be locked on fish analogies?)

For the next few weeks, you will be able to judge the desperation of the Democrats by the viciousness of their campaign tactics. The above-it-all, agent of change, Obama, is about to start fighting like the Chicago machine politician he is.