Submitted By Todd on March 6th at 9:08pm
How are things going for David Axelrod, the Karl Rove of the Obama Administration?
In a lengthy interview in his office on Wednesday, Mr. Axelrod was often defiant, saying he did not give a “flying” expletive “about what the peanut gallery thinks” and did not live for the approval “of the political community.”Ah. I guess that means Hope & Change is going as well for you, David, as it is for us.
Mr. Axelrod said he accepts some blame for what he called “communication failures,” though he acknowledges bafflement that the administration’s efforts to stimulate the economy in a crisis, overhaul health care and prosecute two wars have been so routinely framed by opponents as the handiwork of a big-government, soft-on-terrorism, politics-of-the-past ideologue. “For me, the question is, why haven’t we broken through more than we have?” Mr. Axelrod said. “Why haven’t we broken through?”Why haven't you broken through? You have! People know what you want - that's the problem!
He directs every aspect of the administration’s external presentation, overseeing polls, focus groups and speeches and appearing on the Sunday shows. Mr. Emanuel describes Mr. Axelrod as “an integrator of the three P’s” — press, policy and politics — “and how they make a whole.”The administration isn't falling apart because it had to confront the bad economy, it's because we've had to confront its political philosophy.
The criticism of the administration’s communication strategy — leveled by impatient Democrats, gleeful Republicans, bloggers and cable chatterers — clearly stings Mr. Axelrod, as well as the circle of family, friends and fans he has acquired over three decades in politics as a consultant and, before that, a reporter for The Chicago Tribune.It's hard to see how communicating differently would make the health care mess more palatable.
Mr. Axelrod’s friends worry about the toll of his job — citing his diet (cold-cut-enriched), his weight (20 pounds heavier than at the start of the presidential campaign), sleep deprivation (five fitful hours a night), separation from family (most back home in Chicago) and the fact that at 55, he is considerably older than many of the wunderkind workaholics of the West Wing. He wakes at 6 in his rented condominium just blocks from the White House and typically returns around 11.David, your suffering sounds similar to ours.
“I know I’m not cut out for this town,” said Mr. Axelrod, who tries to spend one week a month with his wife, Susan, who lives in Chicago, as do two of his three children... “I think he’s getting close to a burnout kind of thing,” said Sam Smith, a former Chicago Tribune sports writer.Burnout. That would describe our condition pretty well.
As Mr. Obama began his term, Mr. Axelrod told him he would stay at the White House for a finite period — believed to be about two years — and that time frame remains unchanged. “I’ve learned more things in the last year than I will ever learn in my life,” he said. “It’s just something you can’t do forever, or it will kill you.”Wait. That's not fair - you get to quit and we don't? What the expletive!