Sunday, March 7, 2010

NYT On David Axelrod: Tired, Confused, But Determined

New York Times reporter Mark Leibovich has written an article that analyzes David Axelrod (a welcomed departure from the Rahm Emanuel love fest that has gripped the media). Leibovich portrays Axelrod as tired, confused, yet determined.

Leibovich reports that several of Axelrod's friends are concerned about his health. According to the article, Axelrod, who is 55-years-old, lives on 5 hours of sleep per day, and he spends only one week with his family each month:

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.
Leibovich also reports that Axelrod seems confused by the public's failure to appreciate the daunting challenges that the Obama Administration faces. Axelrod has received a lot of criticism for not creating an effective communications strategy for President Obama. Although Obama's message during the presidential campaign was pitch perfect, according to many observers, he has lacked a coherent strategy as president. These observations leave Axelrod scratching his head:

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?"
Despite the hardships, Axelrod, who admittedly does not like Washington, comes across as determined and undaunted:

Mr. Axelrod is tired, but he says that is nothing new. “I have dealt with a lot of ‘real stuff’ in my life,” he said, referring to his daughter’s long struggle with epilepsy, his father’s suicide and his wife’s bout with breast cancer. “The disapprobation of some folks in Washington doesn’t seem very meaningful.”
Perhaps Axelrod can take solace in the fact that he only committed to doing this work for about two years -- a term that will soon expire.

Final Take
This article does not analyze Rahm Emanuel in much detail. Nevertheless, it subtly supports the growing media depiction of Emanuel as a skillful Washington insider and Obama's other senior advisers as clueless devotees of the president.

See also: A Baffled David Alexrod


Lynn E said...

Axelrod is a campaign man. He shouldn't be in the White House at this point except for the fact that the creation which is Obama is his and he doesn't want it to fully self destruct.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Lynn: I think you make a good point. The article reads as a swan song.

Kansas City said...

It is a fascinating article.

Lynn makes an excellent point, which was my first reaction and I would phrase as why in the world is a lifetime campaign hack like Axelrod in the office next to the oval office and serving as President Obama's most senior advisor?

Darren's point also seems correct that he is on the way out, but all that means is he will go ut to make a bunch of money and reappear as the top Obama campaign hack for 2012. "Leaving" means getting to work the "The Reelect" as they call it in the White House.

A final reaction was, if Axelrod is so smart about "communications", why was he so dumb as to grant this interview?

Alessandro Machi said...

Why was it ok for Illinois to move its democratic primary way up, but not ok for Michigan to do the same? The point being that Axlerod was part of a conspiracy led by the democratic elect to get Barack Obama elected.

Elizabeth said...

The string of Rahm articles and now this one about Axelrod (with more to come, I suspect) is disturbing. It shows that Obama cannot even discipline his own staff to prevent leaks and public gossip. No wonder he can't effectively run the country.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Elizabeth: I was thinking that earlier. These stories are coming in at a rapid pace. Has he sat down with the staff and threatened to roll heads -- well, we know that's not his style.

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