Gay Patriot Header Image

Is David Axelrod all that savvy a political strategist?

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 12:00 am - April 16, 2012.
Filed under: 2012 Presidential Election,Random Thoughts

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.



  1. Hmm, that was brilliant. At least the RNC was quick enough to get it into an ad.

    Comment by The Livewire — April 16, 2012 @ 10:20 am - April 16, 2012

  2. My opinion is No, Axelrod can not run a competent “normal” campaign. I’ve seen him plenty on TV and intellectually he’s no match for either Dick Morris or Karl Rove. Axelrod always merely disgorges the Demo talking points over and over. He’s unable to move past them usually, and when he attempts to do so, he’s as big a gaffe-meister as his boss, Obozo. Plus, Axelrod is plagued with the same disease as all Demos: they refuse to take their opponents seriously, viewing them as “stupid” and “less intelligent.” Any politico who assumes a “superbior intellect” attitude about their oppponent is generally doomed to failure. Underestimating your opponent has cost thousands and thousands of office seekers to lose an election. Let’s hope Obozo and Axelrod keep their high opinions of themselves this election year with the same dismal results.

    Comment by Mart Martin — April 16, 2012 @ 12:12 pm - April 16, 2012

  3. Does that nitwit remind anyone else of Templeton the Rat from “Charlotte’s Web?”

    Comment by Bastiat Fan — April 16, 2012 @ 4:04 pm - April 16, 2012

  4. Paul Lynd called.

    Templeton wants an apology.

    Comment by The_Livewire — April 16, 2012 @ 9:56 pm - April 16, 2012

  5. Axelrod made it his career to be an inside player in helping politicians win elections. He made millions for himself in the process. He is one of a very few such people who actually got his client into the Oval Office.

    He worked for John Edwards in his bid for the party nomination in 2004. Axelrod supposedly said of Edwards: ” “I have a whole lot of respect for John, but at some point the candidate has to close the deal and — I can’t tell you why — that never happened with John.”

    Taking those words about Edwards to heart, I am not certain what Axelrod can do about Obama who continually makes “closing the deal” harder by his loose cannon lips.

    It is not really fair to assume that Axelrod causes Obama’s gaffes. Nor is it fair to expect Axelrod to be able to clean up every mess Obama makes.

    This problem Obama has was addressed early on with glueing the TeleprompTers to him and feeding him talking points from the back of the room on his Blackberry.

    Running against the “… ghoulies and ghosties And long-leggedy beasties
    And things that go bump in the night” is tricky business. Creating demons and stirring up raw emotions can not only get out of hand, the demagogue soon enough can not escape responsibility for his rhetoric.

    After four years, the Bush-Cheney punching bag has had the stuffing knocked out of it and it leaves Obama looking like he is punching at a paper bag.

    Axelrod and the Chicago political mob have not got a target to fit Alinsky’s: Rule 11: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, polarize it. Don’t try to attack abstract corporations or bureaucracies. Identify a responsible individual. Ignore attempts to shift or spread the blame.

    Axelrod very successfully packaged and managed Obama into the Oval Office. Now he has a different Obama on his hands. He has to sell Obama in a way that the last four years do no count against him.

    Is anyone “all that savvy a political strategist?”

    Comment by heliotrope — April 17, 2012 @ 9:10 am - April 17, 2012

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.