August 31, 2009
In the spring of 2005, New York Times columnist David Brooks arrived at then-Senator Barack Obama’s office for a chat. Brooks, a conservative writer who joined the Times in 2003 from The Weekly Standard, had never met Obama before. But, as they chewed over the finer points of Edmund Burke, it didn’t take long for the two men to click. “I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging,” Brooks recently told me, “but usually when I talk to senators, while they may know a policy area better than me, they generally don’t know political philosophy better than me.
August 26, 2009
On August 4, Haaretz reported that Benjamin Netanyahu called Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod self-hating Jews. A spokesman for the prime minister later denied this, but I have heard from Israeli friends that this conspiratorial explanation is quite popular in the prime minister’s office. I have no reason to believe otherwise. The accusation of ethnic infidelity is an old feature of the political culture of the Likud. The defenders of Greater Israel have values, but the critics of Greater Israel have motives.
Hillary, Lying Low?
May 07, 2009
A blind source makes a good observation about Hillary Clinton to Laura Rozen--that she has made virtually no domestic TV appearances. "Who is talking about foreign policy on those shows? [David] Axelrod. Who is showing up at the meeting with Obama-Peres? Axelrod. They are controlling the message.... You have not really seen the secretary of state in the U.S. media; you've seen her in the international media.
Night of the Living Bushies
May 06, 2009
The depiction of Barack Obama that has emerged from some quarters of the American right is that of a Bush-like figure. He is irresponsibly running up deficits and covering them up with budgetary gimmickry. Under the guise of healing rhetoric, he ruthlessly pressures fellow partisans in Congress to toe the line. He is "filling White House ranks with former lobbyists," and his administration is devolving into general incompetence. And he has given unprecedented, Rove-like power to his political Svengali, David Axelrod.
Is Axelrod A P.r. Liability?
April 07, 2009
If Alex Conant can help it, yes, as this piece the former RNC press secretary wrote for Politico makes clear. But the weird thing about Conant's article attacking David Axelrod is its strained use of the passive voice. To wit: Axelrod is now a pillar for Barack Obama, but he will likely become a lightning rod for public concern. The public is naturally leery of Machiavellian advisers inside the White House, yet that’s exactly Axelrod’s function.
April 01, 2009
In early January, most of Barack Obama's senior staff assembled with the president-elect for a meeting inside a windowless, eighth-floor office at the transition headquarters in Washington. It was a pivotal moment in Obama's transformation from candidate to commander-in-chief. Obama's advisers had taken all of his campaign pledges, factored in his promise to reduce the deficit, and put together a provisional blueprint for governing.
December 03, 2008
The morning after the presidential election, a group of top Obama staffers and consultants gathered for brunch at a restaurant a few blocks from their Chicago headquarters. The mood was understandably emotional, and, before long, chief strategist David Axelrod rose to offer a valedictory. According to one person in the room, Axelrod lavished praise on his operatives for their discretion, for their collegiality, and for their resistance to all manner of Washington-think. But, even as Axelrod spoke, a burst of Washington-style drama was making a mockery of these virtues.
November 19, 2008
In the spring of 2007, long before Sarah Palin became a feminist icon, before Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers reared their unreconstructed heads, before Hillary Clinton ever questioned his readiness to be president, Barack Obama's greatest nemesis was a 29-year-old paralegal named Joe Anthony. Anthony had attracted tens of thousands of fans to a MySpace page he'd set up for Obama—a testament to the legions of new voters the candidate was inspiring. But, back in Chicago, all Anthony's site inspired was indigestion.
Mr. Axelrod Goes To Washington
November 06, 2008
After weeks of speculation about where he might fit into an Obama administration, it looks like David Axelrod will be joining the president-elect--and his good friend and new White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel--in Washington. Axelrod, who was Obama's chief campaign strategist, will be serving as a senior adviser to the White House, ABC News reports. --Seyward Darby
The Message Keeper
November 05, 2008
In 1992, a Chicago woman named Bettylu Saltzman met Barack Obama, who had graduated from Harvard Law School one year earlier and was now in her city leading a voter-registration drive called Project Vote. Saltzman, an heiress to a shopping-mall fortune who's long been active in Democratic politics, was volunteering for Bill Clinton's presidential bid when, one day, Obama dropped by the campaign's Chicago office to discuss Project Vote. Saltzman came away from the encounter very, very impressed.