Lately, I’ve been wondering if White House senior advisor David Axelrod (much like his fellow Democrat James Carville) is just a one-trick pony, having like filmmaker Michael Cimino (or the Wachowski brothers) having one great idea and being able to present it in the right package at the right time. But, never able to repeat that success.
Michael Cimino, as you may know, directed the 1978 film The Deer Hunter, one of the great movies of the 1970s, a flick which took home five Oscars. Two years later, he would be responsible for Heaven’s Gate, one of Hollywood’s most celebrated flops.
Will David Axelrod have a similar record?
He scripted (and helped direct) a brilliant campaign two years ago, presenting his candidate as healer who would rise about partisan differences and end the polarized politics that had defined the nation for the preceding twenty years. People wanted change and Axelrod’s man promised it.
Yet, now when that man hasn’t lived up to the hype, Axelrod, the Washington Examiner‘s editors write, has been “charged with finding a strategy to change the focus of the 2010 election to something, anything, other than the chief executive’s failed record on taxes, spending and the economy.” And he hasn’t been succeeding.
This time ’round, he can’t seem to articulate a coherent campaign message that resonates this year as “Hope” and “Change” did two years ago. His story lacks a theme and he’s looking for a demon to vilify.
The White House, in the words of Politico’s Glenn Thrush and Kenneth P. Vogel now “seems to have settled on what one Democratic operative calls ‘The Spaghetti Strategy,’ a throw-anything-against-the-wall approach to attacking a carefully targeted group of Republican heavies ahead of Nov. 2.” From Hope and Change to attack and attack in two years flat.
And instead of elevating the president, this strategy has diminished him. Obama, as Rich Lowry put it, has been
. . . working his way down the food chain of targets for shrill attacks. He started at George W. Bush (who is out of office but at least a former president), descended to John Boehner (the House minority leader people have barely heard of), and finally alighted on Karl Rove (who is a political operative and pundit).
(Lowry piece via Instapundit.)
Simply put, David Axelrod and his much-ballyhooed political team don’t seem to merit all the acclaim that was thrown their way in the wake of the most recent presidential election. In 2008, they had the right message for the right time. In 2010, lacking a message, they campaign at cross-purposes to their candidate’s promise in his successful presidential race. They don’t have a message except that Republicans are very bad, very, very, very bad.
Perhaps like Michael Cimino, he’ll see great promise one year turn to disaster two years later.