Tags: david axelrod | barack obama | explain | presidency

David Axelrod: Obama Tongue-Tied at Explaining His Presidency

By    |   Friday, 27 Feb 2015 09:15 PM

Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod says the president known for his speechmaking talents has been less than persuasive at selling his policies to the country that voted for him twice, the Toronto Globe and Mail reports.

While blaming some of President Barack Obama's woes on Washington's political culture and on relentless Republican opposition, Axelrod said that Obama himself is also at fault for not successfully making his case.

"One of the ongoing conversations I had with him is that he took too much to heart this old adage of [former New York governor] Mario Cuomo’s, that you campaign in poetry and govern in prose," Axelrod told the Globe and Mail's Adam Radwanski in an interview about Axelrod's new memoir, "Believer: My Forty Years in Politics."

"The fact is, you always need a little bit of poetry; you always need to continue to tell the story of where you’re going and why," said Axelrod.

The president who got Democrats excited with soaring campaign rhetoric can be "more prosaic and mind-numbingly detailed in his answers and his communications on issues," said Axelrod, who shares Obama's Chicago political roots.

He also said that Obama used up a lot of his oratorical capital early on by going in front of the microphone too often during the financial crisis — a strategy Axelrod blamed on himself and another Chicago political operative, then-White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

"It was partly because there was this sense that we had a national emergency and people needed to see the president out there every day responding to it," said Axelrod. "But the result [was] that we turned him into kind of an announcer for the government rather than a narrator of where we, as a country, were going.

"I think we wore him down as a communicator and we wore out his effectiveness, to some degree, by overusing him," he said.

Axelrod said he hopes history will be kinder to Obama than the Washington press corps.

He also said that if the 2016 presidential election is a contest between two familiar names — Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton — it will be in part because voters "seek the remedy to what they perceive as the deficiencies" of the last president.

Obama, a comparative outsider, has drawn criticism in office for what some observers still see as a telling lack of experience in government and politics, having jumped to the White House after less than one term in the U.S. Senate.

"In that sense, the Bush and Clinton candidacies make a little more sense" and "may suggest to people, these are folks who can navigate the system — perhaps they can navigate it better than Obama did," said Axelrod.

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Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod says the president known for his speechmaking talents has been less than persuasive at selling his policies to the country that voted for him twice, the Toronto Globe and Mail reports.
david axelrod, barack obama, explain, presidency
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2015-15-27
Friday, 27 Feb 2015 09:15 PM
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