Friday Obama bloging…Posted: May 2, 2008
There’s an excellent profile of Obama’s chief stagiest, David Axelrod, in today’s Washington Post. Here’s a bit of it.
Among political professionals, the Obama campaign has been the object of admiration — “flawlessly run,” in the words of Bob Beckel, campaign manager of Walter F. Mondale‘s 1984 run for the White House. Obama, Axelrod, his partner David Plouffe and a small band of comrades drew up a plan early in 2007 to challenge the reigning first family of the Democratic Party for the presidential nomination on behalf of a neophyte Illinois senator whose name sounded foreign. They stuck to their plan even when they fell behind Hillary Clinton — 33 points behind in a Washington Post–ABC News poll of Democrats and independents who lean Democratic that was completed on Sept. 30.
The Obama message also has never changed. As he laid it out in the Feb. 10, 2007, speech announcing his candidacy, Obama blames the country’s inability to deal with its many problems on “the failure of leadership, the smallness of our politics — the ease with which we’re distracted by the petty and trivial, our chronic avoidance of tough decisions, our preference for scoring cheap political points instead of rolling up our sleeves and building a working consensus to tackle big problems.” When Clinton pulled so far ahead in the polls, many skeptics thought this message was inadequate to the task. Obama, Axelrod and their colleagues thought otherwise.
And then they won the Iowa caucuses. After four months of primaries, caucuses and jockeying for the support of superdelegates — the past and present elected and party officials who will now decide the ultimate winner — Obama is the front-runner. The plan worked, at least so far. The fact that he was right when the conventional wisdom was so wrong gives Axelrod considerable satisfaction.
“Seven months ago I was spending a lot of time talking to guys like you who basically would tell me you’re 30 points behind in the national polls, she seems almost unbeatable,” he says. “Mark Penn [then Clinton’s chief strategist] was declaring victory. And we placed our bet on the American people. And now we’ve won twice as many primaries and caucuses, and I think we’re in a very strong position. That’s because there is a hunger for something different, and I think Barack represents that.”
As chief strategist, Axelrod has been a player-coach for the campaign. He appears comfortably on television for Obama, helps the candidate formulate his message, makes television commercials, consults daily with colleagues on how time and resources should be spent, BlackBerrys constantly with reporters, colleagues and supporters, and talks on the phone, too. “I’m a multi-tasker,” he explains.
Axelrod is an atypical political consultant. Over the past generation his profession has become a dominant force in American politics. Its leading practitioners — all wealthy and most full of themselves — have become central actors in the country’s political dramas. Axelrod has been influential himself, but works hard at avoiding self-promotional bloviation. “I have never believed in the Wizard of Oz theory of consulting, that I am all-knowing and all-seeing, and that everyone around me is kind of a backbencher,” he says.
More at the link.