Thursday, February 8, 2007

The Man Behind the Hope

The Nation just popped a fascinating profile on David Axelrod, the 51-year-old reporter-turned communications consultant (hmmm, now that’s an idea…) behind Barack Obama and Deval Patrick.

It’s a great read and, unless I missed it, exactly the kind of stuff the Globe, Herald, BoMag or Phoenix should have done during the 2006 campaign.

The piece sheds light on Axelrod’s thinking, methods and past – all of which will help frame the upcoming Obama-for-Prez movement. Of course, the piece starts with stories of similarities between the Patrick and Obama campaigns – one thing we heard a lot of in 2006.

I always wrote that off as similarities between the candidates, their uniquely impressive speaking styles and their views of government more than any kind of Axelrod playbook. This piece doesn’t delve too deeply into that, other than Axelrod saying he’s not the message deliverer but the guy who they feed off – “It’s like riffing with great musicians.”

I’ll give him this, he is astutely on message.

The piece doesn’t shed any real new light on the Patrick campaign but the test, as Axelrod surely knows, will be when the Obama campaign turns ugly. For all his protestations and the media hand-wringing, the 2006 campaign for governor was nothing compared to the presidential whirlwind the junior senator from Illinois is about to hit. And, like Patrick, Obama wasn’t particularly well tested on his past and, like Patrick, was elected more on a wave of tremendous public support, personality and over-arching vision than nuts and bolts plans. That won’t last long in the fields outside of Des Moines or the town dump in Exeter.

But don’t bet against Axelrod. Too many have already and lost their shirts.

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