For me, the most interesting thing about THIS top of the fold front page article is that it is copyrighted by the LOS ANGELES TIMES !!
11:33 PM CST, January 30, 2011
Reporting from Washington
A changing of the senior guard takes place Monday at the White House as a new management team takes over and David Axelrod, President Obama's confidant and longtime political strategist, returns home to Chicago.
Axelrod's next assignment is to crank up Obama's reelection operation, which will be run from their shared hometown -- and, significantly, outside the Washington Beltway. The Obama team thinks that will reduce Washington's influence on campaign decisions and focus the operation on voters' values. I call bull shit. The campaign will focus on Obama's values: empty rhetoric and the pleasing of his corporate masters. It also reduces the appearance that politics and policy are merging in the West Wing.
Before starting, Axelrod, 55, plans to take a few months to travel, relax and reconnect with friends and neighbors -- a recuperation after two years of campaigning and two years in the White House. If the campaign manager / cheif of staff needs to recuperate after two years campaigning and two years in the White House, what must the President need? Couple of aspirin and a pack of Lucky Strikes?
His pictures were still on his office wall over the weekend, but he was making way for his replacement, his former business partner, David Plouffe, meet the new boss - same as the old boss - it's all the Chicago Mobbed Up Guise who will take over the office closest to the Oval Office in the coming week.
Gone were the dark circles under Axelrod's eyes and the husky, overtired whisper, both common during his two years in the White House. Care to speculate if the dark circles are due to relief, or WERE due to stress and overwork? I'm betting on the latter.
Your office is right next to the Oval Office. You step in there multiple times in a day. Will you be as influential from 700 miles away? Doesn't this just beg the question: are you REALLY gonna step down?
My experience in this business is that sometimes you're even more appreciated when you're not around all the time. And the truth is that I hope to bring something that I can't bring right now when I return, which is insights you glean from regular people because largely, there are NO REGULAR PEOPLE out there in the Belt Way .... a lot of truths are being revealed here.... Our relationship is long enough and deep enough that I have no concern about whether I'll have influence. But just how much influence did you have in the last 2 years? Might have been none? Could have been none?
As you look back over the last two years, what do you count as your biggest success?
In 2008, there was this chilling admission that we could be going into a Great Depression. Yes, in fact for a LOT of people, we DID go into a Great Depression, and they are not likely to claw their way out any time soon. I saw over the next period of months a series of decisions to avert what could have been a much greater recession.... History will look back at what was done during that period as really significant and important. Conveniently not naming a one of them. Reporter is to dumb shit to note.
You played a big role in passing "Obamacare."
I come at the healthcare law from a very personal place, because I have a daughter with a chronic disease. I was a young reporter at the [Chicago] Tribune when she started seizing, when she was 7 months old. We were in an HMO. They didn't cover her drugs, which were running $8,000 to $10,000 a year. They were talking about brain surgery. I was making $42,000 a year. We almost went broke…. The night that the [healthcare] bill passed, the president was in there with the staff watching the vote, and I slipped out and came in here and closed the door. I was overcome. When he was making $42,000 a year he was doing one HELL of a lot better than 98% of the country's work force. And it hurt him then. How much more would it have hurt on, say $15,000 a y ear?
Where did you fail personally?
My biggest regret is that, because we were this triage unit dealing with this great crisis, there wasn't a lot of time to focus on the larger narrative. (In other words - it were the fault of the Republicans) and all Barckieo EVER focuses on is the larger narrative, I the annointed one shall lead you out of the paths of drankess.) Part of the obligation of the president is to continually project forward and remind people of those fundamental principles and values, and the vision that you're driving toward. (In other words, talk about it and maybe it will vanish )Nobody does that better than Barack Obama, but we didn't always give him the chance to do that during the first two years. I think we lost that thread a little bit. We were too prosaic at times. There were a lot of days when we asked him to go out and do fairly prosaic things at times, and we sort of squandered the platform. I regret that.
Are you taking that on yourself?
I'm happy to. That's what you get for the privilege of sitting a few feet away from the president.
You've said that the president's speech in Tucson Jan. 12 following the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords reminded you of the "race speech" [known to many as "the Rev. Jeremiah Wright speech," delivered in 2008 and covering race relations in the U.S.].
I had no doubt he would meet that moment. I knew how deeply he felt. I sent him a piece over the weekend about this young girl, 9-year-old Christina [Christina-Taylor Green, who was killed in the Jan. 8 shooting]. I had been reading it to my wife and I couldn't even get through it. He called me and said, "I want to call the family. But she's about the same age as Sasha. If it were Sasha, I would be disconsolate; I wouldn't be able to talk to anybody." [When Obama did speak with her parents] they said, "You know, it was your campaign that got her interested in politics." So when he said in that speech, "We need to live up to her expectations," he felt that very personally. Just as in the race speech, he felt it in his heart; he knew exactly what he wanted to say. He said he'd have something at 10 or 11; I knew that wouldn't be the case.... I went to bed, woke up at 2 or 3. He'd sent it at 1:30. I read it in the dark on my BlackBerry. I said, "This is exactly what needs to be said."
I don't know anybody else like that, who can take a moment like that, that is a painful tragic moment, and find some meaning in it. And then articulate it so beautifully.
When Rahm Emanuel was chief of staff, he handled some of the hard, direct negotiations over healthcare. Will Bill Daley [the new chief of staff] be playing that role?
I don't know how all of that will unfold. But I know he has great stature. From his last tour of duty in Washington, he still has relationships that will be valuable moving forward. He is a large figure. When he walks into a room, people will know that this is a person of stature and influence.
What about Jay Carney [the former Time magazine reporter taking over as press secretary]?
I always say I went to the University of Chicago and got my education at the Chicago Tribune. I think it's been helpful to me … knowing what your job is, and some of the barriers you face in doing that. Jay has that quality. He'll be great on the podium and great with his staff.
The president needs independent voters. What do you think those voters want right now?
They want cooperation. Their feeling is that there are things more important than party. That's a feeling we share. It's going to be harder to win over those voters if you take a harshly partisan, dogmatic stance.
What are you going to be doing in Chicago?
I'm returning to a new entity called Axelrod Strategies that is going to be located in my old business, but I'm just renting space from them.... I'll be on the speaking circuit for a while. I will ease into my old role as the senior strategist of the campaign in 2012.
Will you help Rahm in his race for Chicago mayor?
I speak from deep conviction when I say he's what the city needs.... My old firm is doing his race. I'll be headquartered there; to the extent I'm around, I'm sure I'll kibitz.
Copyright © 2011, Los Angeles Times