To be blunt, his mere appearance screams: “Hack.” His use as the public face of the campaign only reinforces the conclusion that the campaign isn’t about anything substantive, but rather solely dependent on hyper-partisanship.
Why use him? Perhaps the Obama campaign has gone entirely tone deaf. Or maybe, they just can’t get any surrogates with stature to stay on message and spin the line of the day. With each appearance, however, Axelrod reinforces two weaknesses of the campaign.
First, there is no message, no second-term agenda and no record to run on. The reelection effort consists of one attack after another, a desperate struggle to avoid talking about the president’s record and to make Mitt Romney unacceptable to the voters.
Second, the Obama team acts as it they will never have to respond to a Romney counterpunch. They throw out the accusations (on Bain, on his Massachusetts record) and never seem prepared to respond when the Romney team smashes the ball back over the net. Certainly, they know the Romney (or media) pushback is coming, yet neither Axelrod nor the president ever seem ready for it. You therefore see a stumbling Obama press conference followed by another floundering outing by Axelrod.
Maybe they expected the same kid glove treatment from the media that Obama got in 2008. Or perhaps, as they have divulged to liberal journalists, they harbor deep contempt for Romney and his campaign. Either way, they look flat-footed, no more so than when Axelrod is on the screen.
It’s apparent that the Romney team practically licks their chops whenever Axelrod appears on air. He is a constant reminder that the president has become as inept at campaigning as he is at governing.