Last week, Politico reported that the White House had quarterbacked “Operation Rushbo” as a means of demonizing Republicans, exactly the kind of political character assassination Barack Obama had campaigned against for the past two years. Today, the International Herald-Tribune and the New York Times confirm this, albeit inadvertently, in a profile of Obama’s closest political adviser. David Axelrod gave the order to launch the attack machine:
A glimpse of Axelrod’s day offers a look at how he spends his time.
He arrives at the White House shortly after 7 a.m., a torturously early hour for a man known during the campaign for sending messages until the small hours of the morning. A cup of Earl Grey tea is waiting for him — he hates the taste of coffee and recalls having only two cups in his life — as he walks into his first appointment of the day, a meeting in the office of Rahm Emanuel, the chief of staff, who has been a friend for 25 years.
He attends the economic briefing in the Oval Office, where the latest news and grim statistics are relayed to the president by a battery of advisers. When the classified intelligence briefing begins, Axelrod leaves the room. Later, he and a speechwriter sit down with Obama to review the three-ring binder containing each speech or statement the president will make that day.
Often in the late afternoons, he walks to the Situation Room to attend some meetings of the National Security Council, stopping to grab a handful or two of the M&Ms that are in a large bowl outside the room.
He also helps decide which fights to pick and which ones to avoid, making him a leading voice in setting the political tone in Washington. The recent back-and-forth with Rush Limbaugh, for example, was explicitly authorized by Axelrod, who told aides that it was not a moment to sit quietly after Limbaugh said he hoped that Obama would “fail.”
Hmm. After my initial post on Operation Rushbo, some criticized Politico for overreaching on their report. Do you think they may start to apologize for it, now that the NYT (which owns the IHT) has confirmed it, even as an afterthought?
And for that matter, why didn’t the New York Times report this separately? The White House has ginned up an attack machine to pillory Rush Limbaugh, but meanwhile dozens of high-level appointments have yet to be made at Treasury. They’re too overwhelmed to figure out correct protocol for Gordon Brown’s visit (and too busy to offer decent gifts), but they have the time to coordinate attacks on a radio-show host.
That’s an interesting set of priorities — for both Obama and the New York Times.