Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Who is the president – Barack Obama or David Axelrod?

Many people believe Obama is not the architect of the new socialism driving government policy these days but there is speculation about who is behind the smooth character behind the teleprompter. I don’t know the answer but at the very least it is clear that Obama’s Senior Advisor, David Axelrod, shares mouthpiece honors.

We frequently hear Robert Gibbs in his role as Obama press agent explain to the news media what the president means during his speech marathon but comments by Axelrod actually sound like the president speaking.

For example:

“We’re entering a new season,” senior adviser David Axelrod said in a telephone interview. “It’s time to synthesize and harmonize these strands and get this done. We’re confident that we can do that. But obviously it is a different phase. We’re going to approach it in a different way. The president is going to be very active.”

And on health care Axelrod announced in advance of the September 9th speech by Obama that Obama is (falsely) willing to forgo the public option

“We have been saying all along that the most important part of this debate is not the public option, but rather ensuring choice and competition,” an aide said. “There are lots of different ways to get there.”

“I’m not going to put a date on any of this,” Axelrod said. “But I think it’s fairly obvious that we’re not in the second inning. We’re not in the fourth inning. We’re in the eighth or ninth inning here, and so there’s not a lot of time to waste.”

Aren’t these things what one might expect the president himself to say?

Once again, sounding like Obama’s teleprompter, Axelrod said:

"His goal is to create the best possible situation for consumers, create competition and choice. We want to bring a measure of security to people who have health insurance today. We want to help those who don't have coverage today, because they can't afford it, get insurance they can afford. And we want to do it in a way that reduces the overall cost of the system as a whole."

You might recall that Obama has very recently began to advance his desire to add Wall St. to the list of businesses controlled by Obama but Axelrod actually presaged this new policy addition.

Axelrod said:

“Also this fall, Obama wants to slap new regulations on Wall Street firms.”

It was also mentioned by Axelrod in an interview that this is a goal that is now considered a higher priority than cap-and-trade energy legislation in the West Wing. White House officials think the legislation will show voters, especially wavering independents, that he is serious about making the culprits of the economic crisis pay. It also helps that it doesn't carry a big price tag, like other Obama priorities.

Nonetheless it is clear that health care remains front end center. According to Axelrod:

“I understand the governing wisdom here in town as to where this is right now. I feel good about where it is right now. I understand that there’s been a lot of controversy. I understand that there’s been a lot of politics. But the truth is we’re a lot closer to achieving something than many thought possible. People look to the president for leadership on this and other issues. He feels passionately about this, and you can look for him to provide that leadership.”

Later on, President Obama would essentially echo Axelrod’s remarks.

Even with respect to criticism of Obama for deciding to give Congress the primary role in developing the health care law (ever so slight in the news media) as Axelrod phrased it, Obama “allowed Congress to consider the whole range of ideas.”

Axelrod instead of Obama had this to say:

“History will judge whether this was right or it was wrong. We feel strongly that it was right. As a result of it, we have broad consensus on over 80 percent of this stuff, and a lot of good ideas about how to achieve the other 20. Now, people are looking to the president and the president is eager to help lead that process of harmonizing these different elements and completing this process so that we can solve what is a big problem in the lives of the American people, for our businesses and our economy.”

The August recess saw many Americans criticize Obamacare so Axelrod had to speak as president to minimize the significance.

“Part of it (Townhall outcries) is born of long experience. In Washington, every day is Election Day. I’d be lying to you if I told you I don’t look at polls -- I do. But I’ve also learned that you have to keep your eye on the horizon here and not get bogged down. I am not Pollyannaish, but I am also not given to the hysteria that's endemic to this town.”

So I ask you, who is the president; Obama, his teleprompter or David Axelrod?

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