Axelrod: I'll fire any Obama staffer who attacks Romney as "weird"

Via Mediaite, the inevitable faux-indignant follow-up to Politico’s piece earlier this week claiming that Obama advisors repeatedly described Romney as “weird” in interviews and that one Democratic strategist said their only option was to “kill” him with attacks if he’s the nominee. Axe hates that, obviously. Not the thought of them crapping all over their “Hope” message with nasty negative campaigning; he’s A-OK with that if it means getting Obama reelected, as we already know from the fact that Obama accused McCain of racism more than once three years ago despite Maverick having famously held back on Rev. Wright to avoid that perception. No, what he hates is the media exposing just how premeditated their negativity is. It’s one thing if The One says something nasty about Romney during a town hall, where it can be dismissed as a heat-of-the-moment excess. It’s another if they’re planning an entire election strategy in part on winking at Mormon baiters with thinly veiled references to Romney being “out of the mainstream” or whatever. Not only would that shatter the Hopenchange myth of Obama as a gentle innocent unspoiled by the ugliness of politics, it would lower him to the level of the “Obama is a secret Muslim” paranoiacs who haunted The One for two years. The irony is, even if the campaign did sink to that level, I doubt it’d lose him a single vote among his base. They won’t care how bad Bambi smells, or how totally he’ll have betrayed his 2008 message of “Hope,” as long as the wingnuts are kept safely away from power. It’ll be a “close,” “difficult” election. What choice do they have but to “kill” Romney?

But the “weirdness” attack isn’t all about religion. Some of those O advisors who called Romney that meant it, I assume, as a shot at him for being “uncool.” As fatuous as that sounds as an election strategy, the Obama boom three years ago was, after all, essentially a cult of personality. That’s what McCain’s famous “Celebrity” ad was about; Obama himself has been candid about the fact that his supporters see him as a blank screen onto which they can project their ideals. At their most primal level, elections are popularity contests and Obama will have a likeability advantage over Romney if they end up competing. Even now, despite the fact that we’re at the gates of hell economically, his favorable rating is slightly above water. When you have personal charm to spare and jack squat to tout policy-wise, it stands to reason that you’d want to personalize the race as much as possible. Can we trust a “weird” guy to make momentous military decisions? How can a weirdo (a rich weirdo!) who’s awkward around people hope to understand the economic pain that America’s suffering from? Do we really want someone as weirdly stiff as Mitt engaging with foreign leaders? Etc. They’re setting up the following narrative for low-information voters: Do we want a president who struggled in his first term because of all the crap George Bush dumped on him, or do we want to risk it with a guy who’s so odd that we have no idea just how bad he’ll be? If unemployment’s still at nine percent I’m pretty sure I know what the answer will be, but like I say, they’ve got nothing to run on otherwise. Any weapon to hand.

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