The View From 1776
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Where’s David Axelrod?
If real substance is to emerge from the vacuity of the President’s policies, it presumably will come from Mr. Axelrod, his behind-the-scenes campaign manager and PR crafter.
It was widely noted early in the presidential primaries last year, that Mr. Axelrod was the creator of the Obama public persona. To many it appeared that Mr. Axelrod was a puppeteer who pulled Mr. Obama’s strings.
The President, on his own since his college days, has excelled primarily at rhetorically straddling fences, appearing to both sides of contentious issues that he supports their position. His legislative career, in the Illinois State House and in the United States Senate, was notable for his frequent absences from crucial votes and for his failure to take stands against Chicago’s ward-heeler corruption.
Perhaps that’s why the President allowed Congress to run with the ball on the grotesquely swollen pile of pork called a stimulus bill. Perhaps that’s why he backed away from approving Wall Street bonuses and allowed Congress to tar and feather recipients. Perhaps that’s why he is giving socialist labor unions huge unmerited equity positions in Chrysler and GM, at the expense of bondholders, ignoring centuries of contractual law protecting bondholders. Perhaps that’s why he relies on sweet talk and empty UN resolutions to deal with nuclear arms threats from Iran and North Korea.
That is not the same thing as personal leadership.
Characteristic of President Obama’s policies is sweeping pronouncement of vast goals with no realistic means to attain them. Read Bret Stephens’s assessment in the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal.
When will Mr. Axelrod get around to filling in the crucial blanks in the vacuous platitudes that constitute so many of the the President’s policies, from foreign affairs, to energy, to the economy and health care? Mr. Axelrod is needed at the teleprompter scriptwriters’ meeting.
If, however, Mr. Axelrod still is on duty and telling the President what to say, he is unfortunately much better at getting Mr. Obama elected than at guiding him to effective governance.