Whenever I catch Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod on CNN (far more often than I catch prominent Republican consultants on that “news” network), I find him little more than a bland reciter of the latest Beltway talking points. He never seems to offer any wise observations of or profound insights into the current state of political play.
Perhaps, because unlike Karl Rove or Donna Brazile (where’d she go anyway? I miss her insights) when they appear on air to offer political commentary, he’s working for an active campaign and has so chosen to keep his counsel.
All that said, Axelrod did run a pretty impressive presidential campaign in 2008, but then his candidate was pretty much a blank slate — and the mainstream media amazingly uninterested in Barack Obama’s record. He could thus get away with promising vast new federal programs to appease his party’s liberal base while assuring independent voters he supported a “net spending cut.”
As 2012 approaches, with his candidate no longer a blank slate, with Americans now familiar with Obama’s record in office, will Axelrod be able to craft a winning campaign?
Remain as undefined as possible, even though this makes not a lick of sense, given that he finally has a record and a meager set of accomplishments (and a rather more lengthy accounting of failures). Make the GOP opponent, whoever that might turn out to be, the defined one. Define him, and, as Alisky said, freeze him, polarize him. Continue running as the candidate of Hope and Change, despite the fact that after four years, you’d think he’d be able to run as the candidate of Accomplishment and Deed.
For the record, both bloggers were writing about Romney’s strategy and both posts merit your attention, but Ace does consider Obama’s 2008 campaign (when the media let him get away with appearing “as both the most liberal candidate in the race (naturally), and, oddly enough, as the mostconservative candidate in the race”) and the upcoming one where, Ace believes, the Democrat “plans to demagogue the Republicans”.
Not a very clever (or original) strategy. And one dependent on a compliant media. With fewer people dependent on the mainstream media for their news than ever before and with most Americans aware of Obama’s record in office, I remain skeptical that this strategy could work.
And with such a campaign, Barack Obama can no longer run as the man who, in 2008, promised to end politics as we know it. His reelection effort will not be an upbeat affair which plays to our hopes, but a scorched earth strategy which plays to our fears.