Politico’s Glenn Thrush is out with a new e-book , a juicy tell-all on strife in the Obama presidential campaign. It used to be these accounts came out in a presidential race postmortem; now they appear before any votes are cast in the presidential election. According to the preview in Politico, the Obama team is beset by the same sort of strife that was rampant in Hillary Clinton’s losing 2008 race. Aides bicker, the president fumes and campaign stunts backfire.
Several points are noteworthy. To begin, the Obama team is not dumb. The Obama political hacks have figured out that Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) is a disaster on TV. Her hyper-partisanship is a turn off. No kidding. So why is she still around and still doing TV? That must be one of the management problems David Axelrod is apparently struggling with.
On a more fundamental level, what comes across is a president awash in contempt for his opponent and imbued with self-righteousness. He bemoans the negativity in the campaign while indulging in character assassination. In his mind his behavior is justified, we learn, because he thinks Mitt Romney is unfit for office and “weak.” In short, this is the mind-set of Richard Nixon — angry, sanctimonious and willing to win at all costs.
President Obama plainly feels put upon. His aides are dolts. His opponent is a weakling. His DNC chair is a disaster. And then there is Vice President Biden. Obama, poor thing, is surrounded by screw-ups. Not surprisingly, there is little, if any, recognition that all of these people are trying to do the impossible, namely defend an indefensible record and personally destroy an honorable opponent. Obama’s own responsibility in the debacle, his first term, is lost.
If nothing else, the book makes clear how far Obama has departed from hope and change. He’s now practicing search, smear and destroy. Moreover, aides are now out to save their own hides and dish dirt to the media. Most of all, you do have to wonder about a president convinced that his own virtue justifies any and all means to victory.