Obama’s main man will do whatever it takes to fell Republicans and conservatives. Where does his ruthlessness and drive come from?
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How did David Axelrod get from the Hyde Park Herald and Chicago Tribune to Obama ‘08 and the White House?
With the eager help of political/journalistic mentors like David Canter and Don Rose, Axelrod, by the mid-1980s, was on his way. After several busy years at the Tribune, he left his spot as one of the paper’s youngest political writers for the lure of political campaigns. His big break came not with his work on Harold Washington’s 1987 reelection campaign but with Illinois Senator Paul Simon. He first worked for Simon in 1984, before being hired to run Simon’s 1988 presidential bid.
From the start of his consulting work, Axelrod, a highly partisan Democrat, exhibited a total embrace of his liberal clients, along with a corresponding contempt for his clients’ opponents. As a June 2007 Chicago Tribune profile noted, Axelrod lives in a world of heroes and villains. As for the liberal heroes, reported the Tribune, he “falls in love with his candidates.” Here, Ax is the hopeless idealist, the “political romantic,” the quixotic dreamer.
In Paul Simon, the bow-tied, bespectacled, nerdy liberal, Axelrod saw an angel. “What Paul Simon has is an absolute commitment to principle,” raved Axelrod. He idolized Simon. He saw Simon’s 1984 opponent, incumbent Republican Senator Charles Percy, as a demon. “Percy became this evil character to David,” said a friend at the Tribune.
With Axelrod’s assistance, Simon squeaked out a victory. By 1985, the aspiring consultant was up and running with own firm, Axelrod & Associates.
Early on, Axelrod likewise gained a reputation for going negative. A Chicago Magazine profile from December 1987, titled, “Hatchet Man: The Rise of David Axelrod,” stated: “Axelrod’s holier-than-a-hack image is also soiled by a penchant for airing negative television commercials.” Here, too, Axelrod was described as “creative” but “mercurial,” “tense,” filled with “anxiety” and impatience, “by nature nervous” and ever-ready to “blast the dickens” out of an opponent.
The pattern continued. A Tribune profile two decades later described him as “ferocious,” “respond[ing] with venom,” “brass knuckles,” a penchant for “bludgeoning” opponents.
Democrat office-seekers apparently admired the tactics, or the results. The clients came running, with the Ax honing a sharp affinity for African-American candidates, particularly mayoral prospects: Harold Washington in Chicago, Michael White in Cleveland, John Street in Philadelphia, Anthony Williams in Washington, Lee Brown in Houston. Like David Canter, he encouraged and helped black candidates appeal to white voters.
But not only black candidates. Soon, Axelrod advised Richard M. Daley, son of the Daley political machine that once beat up in the streets the pals of Don Rose and David Canter. The younger Daley made his mayoral bid after Harold Washington’s sudden death. Axelrod represented several old Demo-cratic machine types. One such pol was Cook County Sheriff Richard Elrod. Don Rose disapproved. He saw Axelrod’s representation of Elrod as a sell-out. “I don’t know how he rationalized that,” complained Rose. “[David] is a principled, generally progressive guy.”
Well, these party hacks may not have been “progressives,” but they were Democrats—and Axelrod is happy to represent Democrats who oppose the true enemy: Republicans.
With the Daley campaign a success, Axelrod expanded his horizons far beyond city halls. There were gubernatorial prospects: New York’s Eliot Spitzer and Massachusetts’ Deval Patrick. There were Senate seekers: Chris Dodd and Hillary Clinton. There were more presidential campaigns: John Edwards.
He became especially close to Rahm Emanuel—so close that Emanuel asked Axelrod to sign the ketubah (Jewish marriage covenant) at his wedding. Axelrod somehow got the unappealing Emanuel elected to a House seat where detractors had framed him as a carpetbagger. He was Emanuel’s chief political adviser when Emanuel helped staged the Democratic takeover of the House in 2006.
From 2001 to 2007, Axelrod’s 11-person consulting firm was touting an 80-percent win rate, with its candidates victorious in 33 of 42 campaigns.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
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The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
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Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online