Opinion: So much Obama damage control that David Axelrod even talks to Fox News

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Here’s how desperate Obama administration spokesmen were Wednesday to fill the info void they’d created by hiding away during the previous night’s bad news election returns:

David Axelrod, an ex-newspaper reporter but one of the lead Obama attackers against the Fox News Channel in recent weeks, actually granted an interview to the Fox News Channel. To Major Garrett.


Obama aides knew full well in advance that election night was not going to go well for them and the commentators would connect the dots back to Obama and VP Joe Biden because, well, that pair has been so actively campaigning and money-raising all over.

So no administration spokesmen appeared during the evening news storm. They passed word ...

... that the voters’ verdict was so important to this president that, as usual, he wasn’t even watching election returns. But that info vacuum meant the election results’ story theme got away from the White House in the 24/7 news cycle:

It was an awful night for Democrats, losing two governorships plus some mayors’ offices. The young people returned to form, which is to say failed to show despite a gazillion e-mail urgings, and unhappy independents went to the Republican side, listing the economy as Job One.

And, OMG, what does this bode for the 2010 midterm elections, now only 362 days away? And for the crucial congressional healthcare vote, which seems to be postponed another week every other day?

So, today out trotted Axelrod and Press Secretary Robert Gibbs to say the same things over and over as damage control: How could the election be about the president when he was not on any ballot?

Local issues prevail; Gibbs even dismissed the voting as ‘local elections.’ Corzine was in his own deep trouble already. We’ll get young people energized next year. And, off-camera, off-the-record, Virginia Democrat Creigh Deeds was an awful candidate who didn’t listen to us enough.

But, hey, (insert quick verbal pivot here) look over here at New York’s 23rd District where a Democrat took advantage of Republican/Conservative infighting and snatched a single GOP House seat.


Axelrod to Garrett:

The other races in Jersey and in Virginia were really state races, very much focused on state issues. In New Jersey it was very much focused on Governor Corzine, but in New York 23, the issues that we’re discussing everyday in Washington were very much on the ballot. And, particularly because of the purge of the Republican candidate, by the right, it became even more so and what you saw was a pretty vigorous turnout there yesterday in a district that had been held by Republicans for 140 years and the Democratic candidate won. I think that sends a strong message here.

To ABC’s Jake Tapper Axelrod quoth:

I think that young people were energized by the President about the set of issues and concerns that he ran on. I think they’ll be energized again in 2010. But you know some of it is a personal appeal and we are going to work hard over the next year to make sure that in these national elections that are coming up our voters and particularly young voters are strongly engaged.

However, far more important for this president’s future than these aides’ scripted media quotes are the political calculations going on silently today in the minds of, say, the 257 Democrat House members who must face angry voters next year when the troubled economy will be even more Obama-owned. Here’s what they see:

Virginia’s Gov. Tim Kaine, who’s also the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, spent extra national money there and still can’t deliver his own state against a tide of voter dissatisfaction.

Also, they’ll note that Corzine couldn’t even approach winning New Jersey with that state machine, all the money in the world, a mediocre, overweight Republican opponent, a third-party guy to siphon GOP votes and five presidential appearances in an historically Democratic state that went big for Obama in 2008.


Gee, these realistic professional pols might think to themselves, how eager should I be to be seen doing the roll-call bidding of the Obama-Pelosi-Reid Democrat triad from now on?

-- Andrew Malcolm

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