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Rahm Emanuel, David Axelrod: Still more on White House palace intrigue

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WASHINGTON--Rahm Emanuel and now David Axelrod tenure as President Obama's top advisors continue to generate news and columns questioning their effectiveness. I think any suggestion there is any split between Emanuel and Axelrod is silly. They were friends before they met the Obamas and that trumps whatever problems the Obama White House is facing.

The latest on Emanuel from the New York Times reporter Peter Baker in the Times Magazine, out this weekend in print but posted online today. Read "The Limits of Rahmism" here.

The paradox of the current situation for Obama and Emanuel has not been lost on Washington. A visionary outsider who is relatively inexperienced and perhaps even a tad naïve about the ways of Washington captures the White House and, eager to get things done, hires the ultimate get-it-done insider to run his operation. Obama was enough of a student of history to avoid repeating the mistakes of Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, who came to reform the capital and installed friends from home who did not truly understand it as their top White House aides. But if picking the leading practitioner of the dark arts of the capital was a Faustian bargain for Obama in the name of getting things done, why haven't things got done?

David Corn, over at Politics Daily, ponders Rahm-as-scapegoat angle.

Practically every popcorn movie about the White House features a diabolical chief of staff. And Emanuel seems well cast for the part: the drama, the cursing, the bird of prey looks. There's also his politics. Ever since his service in the Clinton White House, Emanuel, a former investment banker, has been regarded (fairly or not) as a foe of progressive policy moves that don't have an obvious and immediate political gain.
So he's a natural scapegoat for frustrated Democrats. A

Very witty and spot on from New York Magazine, "How to Write a Rahm Profile."

Moving on from Emanuel, Mark Leibovich, in a front page Sunday New York Times story, dissects senior advisor David Axelrod, in a piece headlined, "Message Maven Finds Fingers Pointing at Him."

No one has taken the perceived failings of the administration more personally or shown the strain as plainly as Mr. Axelrod, who as White House senior adviser oversees every aspect of how Mr. Obama is presented. As such, Mr. Axelrod, the president's mustachioed message maven, has felt the brunt of criticism over what many view as the administration's failure to clearly define and disseminate Mr. Obama's agenda and accomplishments for the country.

"The Obama White House has lost the narrative in the way that the Obama campaign never did," said James Morone, a political scientist at Brown University. "They essentially took the president's great strength as a messenger and failed to use it smartly."


In a Sun-Times column posted Saturday, in the Sunday print paper-- I wrote about--in an exclusive --how Obama told his senior advisors to stop all this palace intrigue.

Last Monday, I learned, Obama made clear to senior staff -- in an Oval Office meeting after he returned from a trip to Savannah, Ga. -- that he didn't like these stories. He reminded them that it is "one for all and all for one'' in his administration. They were there to get things done for the nation, and they were not in the White House to engage in what Obama considered petty Washington intrigue.

Politico's Mike Allen expands on this intrigue in his Monday column

The spate of news stories delving into West Wing palace intrigue has become so relentless that President Barack Obama warned his team against fueling the blaze.

The take on the Obama-Emanuel Axelrod situation from Bloomberg's Al Hunt

New York Magazine is on the Axelrod angle.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on March 8, 2010 4:51 PM.

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