Last July, I questioned Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod’s ability to run an effective political campaign if his candidate were not a blank slate:
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?
Would Axelrod had run as effective a campaign had the media scrutinized Obama’s record as they had Sarah Palin’s? (And had the market not melted down right barely six weeks before the fall election?) Yesterday, it seemed David Axelrod seemed to be acting as if it were still 2008 and he was still running the campaign of an amorphous outsider against a entrenched incumbent:
In an interview on Fox News Sunday this morning, David Axelrod said the 2012 election will come down to a choice: Do Americans want “an economy that produces a growing middle class and gives people a chance to get ahead and their kids a chance to get ahead?” Or do they want to continue down “the road we’re on”?
Continue down the road we’re on? Um, isn’t his candidate the one who has taken us on that journey?
“Axelrod,” Jennifer Rubin quips, “seems almost at a loss to respond once the talking points are challenged.”
He seems to be Davey One-Note, campaigning with an amorphous candidate with a feel-good message of a better America with a thriving middle class against those who would establish policies entrenching the rich and well-connected.
Will he land a blow on an opponent who has learned to punch back?
UPDATE: “This kind of message“, writes Conn Carroll commenting on Axelrod’s remarks, “worked great when Obama was an insurgent candidate running against eight years of President Bush, but now Obama has to defend four years of his own administration.”
UP-UPDATE: In a similar vein, John Podhoretz offers, “Axelrod knows how to run Obama as the candidate of change. His words suggest he doesn’t know how to run Obama as the candidate of the status quo.“