Free Markets, Free People

David Axelrod

Howard Dean endorses Daley and smacks outgoing Obama staff

The Sarah Palin of the Democratic party – Howard Dean – has endorsed a product of the Chicago Machine’s favorite family as Obama’s chief of staff.   He feels William Daley would be a “huge plus” for the Obama  because he is someone “who knows Washington, but he also is not of Washington."

Yeah, that’s kinda the point – he’s from Chicago.  Just like the guy in the Oval office who supposedly “knows Washington” but isn’t of there.

That’s worked out real well so far hasn’t it?  In fact, it appears we’re going to see them shuffle one set of Chicagoans out while another comes in.

Dean also took a shot at the departing members of Obama’s staff for being contemptuous of the “professional left” – i.e. the liberal left:

Noting that many officials are "either out of the White House or going," Dean blasted Obama’s current officials who he says have treated the left wing of the Democratic Party with "contempt."

"As they say, don’t let the door hit you in the you-know-what on the way out," Dean said.

That is mostly pointed at Axelrod and Gibbs.  That said, and Daley endorsed, Dean then even complained a bit about Daley (John Podesta was Dean’s first choice) not being left enough for him:

Dean acknowledged that he has big differences with Daley, who according to Dean has "been moving to the right over the last five to 10 years," but he said that Daley is "a grown-up who doesn’t treat people like they don’t know anything and you know everything."

Dean claims, however, that Daley will bring an “adult” mindset to the White House, a shot at the administration, saying that such a mindset hasn’t existed thus far, at least in the minds of the “professional left”(of which Howard Dean is a charter member).

It is fairly common for administrations to shuffle their staff after an electoral loss.  In the days of Bush, Rumsfeld was the big news, but other changes also happened.  That’s really not the point.   Watch the appointments carefully to try to discern how the administration is trying to set itself up for the next two years.  Hardliners or compromisers?  “Liberal” or, as Dean claims of William Daley, more to the “right” (I think that’s a very relative term in this case)? Etc.

What’s going to be interesting is to see who Obama names to take probably the most visible spot being vacated, that of Bagdad Bob Gibbs.  Like it or not the Press Secretary sets the tone for the administration and is its daily face.   I think more can be discerned from that pick than just about any other (other than at department secretary level).

Meanwhile it is useful to note Dean’s remarks only because they quickly tune you in to the feelings of the “professional left” on most subjects.  My guess he’s spot on in his condemnation of the staff leaving (as far as its dealing with the more liberal wing).  I’d further guess that the criticism won’t stop with the incoming staff either – none of them will ever be left enough for the Howard Dean/Firedoglakes of this world.

~McQ

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Hippie punching the professional left

Is the carefully nurtured relationship begun by the then Obama campaign between them and the "professional left" fraying at the edges?

Apparently some among the progressive blogosphere are tired of carrying the administration’s water:

On a conference call to give the progressives their marching orders was our friend David Axelrod smoozing the bloggers. :

"You play a great role in informing people about the stakes of elections," Axelrod told the bloggers. "One of the reasons I was eager to expend time was to enlist you."

But that didn’t set particularly well with at least one blogger – Susan Madrak of Crooks and Liars:

That tension burst out into the open when Madrak directly asked Axelrod: "Have you ever heard of hippie punching?" That prompted a long silence from Axelrod.

"You want us to help you, the first thing I would suggest is enough of the hippie punching," Madrak added. "We’re the girl you’ll take under the bleachers but you won’t be seen with in the light of day."

Yeah, well, guess what – they actually expected the administration to do what it said it was going to do.  Apparently, like the woman who confronted the President at the most recent town hall, they’re dead tired of defending him.

Fun stuff.  My guess is Robert Gibbs will have a coronary.  But it is very indicative of the tension and lack of trust that now exists between two groups that were once simpatico.  

The problem can be distilled into an easily digestible sentence – the administration has not done what it promised the “professional left” it would do.

So – is this just a fight or is it a break up? 

Where would the professional left go?  Who would they support?  How would they get anything done … anything at all? 

Well that depends I think.  Many of those Gibbs tagged as the “professional left” are a part of the radical left.  They’d actually be quite comfortable if there was a real “progressive” third party choice.  At the moment there isn’t and Obama, who they were gulled into thinking was the answer to all their liberal dreams, hasn’t fulfilled the promises they wrote on the blank slate Obama presented.

Not much of a surprise for those who’ve observed politics for more than a day.

But back to the conference call:

"To the extent that we shouldn’t get involved in intramural skirmishing, I couldn’t agree more," Axelrod said. "We just can’t afford that. There are big things at stake here."

Madrak replied that Axelrod was missing the point — that the criticism of the left made it tougher for bloggers like herself to motivate the base. "Don’t make our jobs harder," she said.

"Right back at’cha. Right back at’cha," Axelrod replied, a bit testily, an apparent reference to blogospheric criticism of the administration.

This isn’t going to get any better.  If anything, it is going to get worse.  And whoever replaces Axelrod and takes over the outreach has their work cut out for them.  As Greg Sargent concludes:

At any rate, for Axelrod to plead with liberal bloggers for their help turning out the base, only to get accused of "hippie punching," is an iconic moment in Campaign 2010.

Indeed.

~McQ

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The thug culture

I’m sorry but the more I watch this White House operate, the more I realize that most of the conciliatory rhetoric about bringing “new politics” to Washington was just so much hot air. They’ve certainly brought a different brand of politics to the place, but “new” isn’t how I’d characterize them.

This bunch acts like thugs engaged in intimidation and shakedowns. The latest example has to do with health insurance companies – which, if anyone is paying attention, are being set up to fail. So now, in anticipation of the the health care bill’s impact and a desire to keep what should happen from happening, the thugs go to work:

President Obama, whose vilification of insurers helped push a landmark health care overhaul through Congress, plans to sternly warn industry executives at a White House meeting on Tuesday against imposing hefty rate increases in anticipation of tightening regulation under the new law, administration officials said Monday.

The White House is concerned that health insurers will blame the new law for increases in premiums that are intended to maximize profits rather than covering claims. The administration is also closely watching investigations by a number of states into the actuarial soundness of double-digit rate increases.

Of course, the insurance companies no longer can deny pre-existing condition and must take anyone who applies. That means a much different risk pool than previously – one which will be much more costly than their present pool of insured.

With the usual attitude of anticipating the worst, the White House plans to warn them off of raising prices. That, of course, shouldn’t be any of the administration’s business, but with the new law, they made it their business. And remember – the charter, the base premise of the law is “cost containment”. The hidden agenda, however, is single-payer.

So where, you ask, does the thugishness come in? Well that would be David Axelrod’s department. Here’s his offer they can’t refuse:

“Our message to them is to work with this law, not against it; don’t try and take advantage of it or we will work with state authorities and gather the authority we have to stop rate gouging,” David Axelrod, Mr. Obama’s senior adviser, said in an interview. “Our concern is that they not try and, under the cover of the act, get in under the wire here on rate increases.”

Note the imperial “we”. Also note that they will decide what constitutes “rate gouging”. If this isn’t a “with us or against us” statement, I’m not sure what you’d call it.

The law does not grant the federal government new authority to regulate health care premiums, which remains the province of state insurance departments. But with important provisions taking effect this summer and fall, the Obama administration has repeatedly reminded insurers — and the public — that it will expose industry pricing to what the health secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, has called a “bright spotlight.”

The general war against business continues.

~McQ

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Whistling Past The Graveyard

Ezra Klein does what a lot on the left are doing since the Tea Party in DC – trying to pretend it doesn’t mean much. He does it by deciding the crowd was 30,000 to 50,000 (note to Klein, that’s acceptable only if you declare you’ve never looked at a single crowd picture from Saturday). At that size, it is fairly equal to the largest of the anti-war demonstrations. With that as his premise Klein trots this out:

Remember when the Iraq War protests stopped the Iraq War?

Yeah. Me neither. Nor, for that matter, does Fox News, or Rush Limbaugh, which leaves me a bit confused by their joyous reaction to the Tea Party that took place in Washington on Sunday. Estimates peg it somewhere between 30,000 and 50,000 people, which makes it an admirable bit of organizing, but not a contender for the protest hall of fame. What it seems, rather, is the progression of a broader societal trend: The advent of online organizing is making it easier to connect large numbers of like-minded people and ask them to attend a rally. It’s done that for politicians like Barack Obama, protesters of all sorts and stripes, and even flash mobs.

If this was a flash mob, it was the granddaddy of flash mobs. Obviously it wasn’t. In fact it appears that the correct crowd size is “several hundred thousands”. Speaking of estimates, I’m seeing more and more nonpartisan estimates at 400,000 to 500,000.

That’s one heck of a lot of people with no real leadership gathering to protest the size and scope of government. And that’s what elected officials should find disquieting about this gathering. Klein tries to imply this was a product of “online organizing”. But it doesn’t really seem to be the case. Certainly the date was thrown out there and there’s little doubt that emails flew among certain groups, but there was nothing, organizationally, which would even approach organizational attempts like ANSWER or others on the anti-war side used to get protesters together.

It was more like “if you’re in the area and you have a problem with what’s being done in DC, stop by”. And about a half million did (not to mention the thousands upon thousands that went to local event like those held in Ft. Worth, TX and Quincy, IL).

This should give politicians pause. If that many people can be convinced to leave their couches and head toward the nation’s capital, how many who couldn’t make the trip but agreed are out there?

But the politicos and many pundits seem bound and determined to ignore what happened. What happened Saturday happened specifically because the half million who did show up are tired of being ignored. If you listen to David Axlerod, though, they’re going to continue to be ignored. In fact, worse than being ignored, they’re being dismissed:

White House senior adviser David Axelrod told Schieffer about the taxpayer protests this weekend: “I don’t think it’s indicative of the nation’s mood. In fact, I don’t believe some of the angriest, … most strident voices we saw during the summer were representative of the thousands of town-hall meetings that went on around the country — that came off peacefully, that were constructive, people voicing their points of view. …

“But this is … one of the great things about our country, is that people can express themselves, even if they’re not representative of the majority. … I don’t think we ought to be distracted by that. My message to them is: They’re wrong.

The message to Axelrod and Klein and all others who plan to continue to ignore this movement as insignificant, unrepresentative and “wrong” is pretty clear. Their arrogance borders on that of Louis XVI of France. And if they continue pushing the agenda of bigger and more expensive government, their end will be similar – a complete loss of power.

They still don’t get it – this isn’t just about health care.

~McQ

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Axelrod Floats A Healthcare Middle Class Tax Trial Balloon

Over the years, one of the purposes the sunday news shows have come to serve is a venue from which to launch political trail balloons and see how well they float.

Some get shot down immediately. Some take flak but survive. And other sail right on through with very little notice. David Axelrod appeared on “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos and launched one concerning taxes and health care. Axelrod first said that Obama still believes taxing health benefits is not the way to pay for health care (although during the ABC informercial, he essentially said that if it happened, it would be a compromise (and obviously not a show stopper for him)).

Stephanopoulos pushed a little harder on funding through taxation:

I pressed Axelrod on whether Obama will draw a line in the sand and veto any bill that funds health care reform with tax hikes for people making under $250,000 a year — despite a pledge Barack Obama made during the 2008 presidential campaign not to raise taxes on the poor and middle-class.

“One of the problems we’ve had in this town is that people draw lines in the sand and they stop talking to each other. And you don’t get anything done. That’s not the way the president approaches us. He is very cognizant of protecting people — middle class people, hard-working people who are trying to get along in a very difficult economy. And he will continue to represent them in these talks,” Axelrod said.

“But they’re also dealing with punishing health care costs, and that’s something that we have to deal with.”

Classic. He could have simply said “we’re open to compromise and if that’s what it takes to pay for it, then yes, we’ll raise taxes on the middle class in a New York minute.”

But instead he had to do the “we’re here to protect the middle class, but …” and then tell us how they really weren’t there to protect them in this particular case.

So to those of you who believed Obama when he said that 95% of Americans won’t see their taxes raised by a single dime – well, that’s no longer necessarily the case – if you let this trial balloon float away unimpeded (not that it will matter really – if they pass health care it has to be paid for somehow and there is no possible way only the richest 5% are enough to pay for that boondoggle).

~McQ

The “Constitution” Question

David Axelrod, Obama’s senior adviser talking about the appointment of a new Supreme Court Justice and the Constitution:

President Barack Obama began interviewing potential Supreme Court candidates Tuesday, while a senior White House official defended the president’s stated preference for a nominee who will give the powerless “a fair shake.”

White House adviser David Axelrod said the U.S. Constitution, like any document of its vintage, must be subject to interpretation in a modern context.

“Fidelity to the Constitution is paramount, but as with any document that was written no matter how brilliantly centuries ago, it couldn’t possibly have anticipated all the questions that would be asked in the 21st century,” Mr. Axelrod said.

Barack Obama, today, talking about the prisoners at Gitmo and the Constitution:

But I believe with every fiber of my being that in the long run we also cannot keep this country safe unless we enlist the power of our most fundamental values. The documents that we hold in this very hall – the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights –are not simply words written into aging parchment. They are the foundation of liberty and justice in this country, and a light that shines for all who seek freedom, fairness, equality and dignity in the world.

I stand here today as someone whose own life was made possible by these documents. My father came to our shores in search of the promise that they offered. My mother made me rise before dawn to learn of their truth when I lived as a child in a foreign land. My own American journey was paved by generations of citizens who gave meaning to those simple words – “to form a more perfect union.” I have studied the Constitution as a student; I have taught it as a teacher; I have been bound by it as a lawyer and legislator. I took an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution as Commander-in-Chief, and as a citizen, I know that we must never – ever – turn our back on its enduring principles for expedience sake.

Per Obama’s speech, the Constitution apparently “anticipated all the questions that would be asked in the 21st century” when it comes to Gitmo. Yet there’s Axelrod, claiming it doesn’t cut the mustard when it comes to the job description or duties of a Supreme Court justice and implying we must turn our back on it for “expedience sake” and redefine the job (give the “powerless” a “fair shake” – the job of the legislature).

So, which is it?

~McQ

Anti-Americanism Is Still Dead

Or so claims David Axelrod.

Apparently Fidel Castro didn’t get the memo:

…At the press conference, as well as in the final meetings of the Summit, Obama looked conceited.

It’s an interesting little diatribe from Casto, and most of it is the usual nonsense, but what it easily demonstrates is Axelrod is as clueless as I asserted a couple of days ago.

Castro saw through most of the Obama rhetoric and unlike a vast number of Americans, figured it out:

When the US President said, in answering to Jake [Tapper], that thousands of years had elapsed since 2004 until the present, he was superficial. Should we wait for so many years before his blockade is lifted? He did not invent it, but he embraced it just as much as the previous ten US presidents did.

That’s the Cuban version of “meet the old boss, same as the new boss …”.

And my favorite:

Leaders just pass through; peoples prevail. There would be no need to wait for thousands of years to pass by; only eight years will be enough so that a new US President — who will no doubt be less intelligent, promising and admired in the world than Barack Obama- riding on a better armored car, or on a more modern helicopter, or on a more sophisticated plane, occupies that inglorious position”

Yup – completely charmed and impressed by our new leader, no?

Castro picks up on and states what he saw – conceit and superficiality. My guess is he wasn’t the only Latin American leader who came away with that impression.

Interesting.

~McQ

Axelrod – Clueless

The more I hear from this crowd the more I come to believe they live in cloud cuckoo land:

Top White House adviser David Axelrod on Monday said that President Obama’s trips to Europe, Turkey and Latin America in the last three weeks have made anti-American sentiment uncool and “created a new receptivity” to U.S. interests.

“What’s happened is anti-Americanism isn’t cool anymore,” Mr. Axelrod said, speaking to an audience of a few hundred at a conference in Washington sponsored by the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.

“This president has not only engaged the leaders of the world, he’s engaged the people of the world,” Mr. Axelrod said, arguing that Mr. Obama’s approach to foreign policy has restored “a sense of humility” that “was missing” in the past.

So that’s what was missing. And it has paid such dividends so far – Europe rejected the two big Obama goals of his tour (increased governmental stimulus spending and increases in European combat troops to Afghanistan), but they feel much better about the fact that he “listened” while they said no. Heh … why engage in anti-Americanism when “no” suffices?

Axelrod’s statement is so pathetically naive that it is difficult to comprehend it being spoken by a senior adviser in a presidential administration. Bowing to kings and fist-bumping dictators doesn’t make anyone more receptive to the US – it simply identifies an easy mark. This crew has absolutely no grasp on foreign policy at all, especially when they seem to actually believe that one quick swing around the world has eliminated anti-Americanism and restored anything but a calculated understanding by each of those leaders Obama supposedly charmed as to how far he can push the US and get away with it.

~McQ