Maybe we don’t need polling to tell us the status of this year’s presidential race. Glenn Thrush’s new e-book, Obama’s Last Stand, paints the Obama campaign as feuding, fighting, and fumbling — the kind of dynamics one sees from dysfunctional organizations under serious pressure from competitors. Two of the campaign’s public leaders barely speak to one another any longer, even though both speak constantly to the public — because their only alternative is a disaster:
President Barack Obama’s campaign team, celebrated four years ago for its exceptional cohesion and eyes-on-the-prize strategic focus, has been shadowed this time by a succession of political disagreements and personal rivalries that haunted the effort at the outset. …
The discord, these sources said, has on occasion flowed from Obama himself, who at repeated turns has made vocal his dissatisfaction with decisions made by his campaign team, with its messaging, with Vice President Joe Biden and with what Obama feared was clumsy coordination between his West Wing and reelection headquarters in Chicago.
The effort in Chicago, meanwhile, has been bedeviled by some of the drama Obama so deftly dodged in 2008 — including, at a critical point earlier this year, a spat that left senior operatives David Axelrod and Stephanie Cutter barely on speaking terms — and growing doubts about the effectiveness of Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
The Washington Post picks up on Thrush’s reporting about Wasserman Schultz, too. Wonder why you haven’t seen Debbie Downer as much as one would expect to see the chair of the Democratic Party in the middle of a presidential election? So did Wasserman Schultz herself, according to Thrush’s book — and Team Obama showed her data from a focus group that placed her dead last among all of the campaign’s surrogates. Of course, DWS is Barack Obama’s selection for party leader, a choice that looks in retrospect a lot like his choice of running mate.
The Post picks up on some more of Obama’s brilliance:
* Obama asked a friend of Sen. Marco Rubio’s in February if the Florida senator was going to be the GOP vice-presidential nominee and added, “Tell your boy to watch it. He might get his ass kicked.”
* VP Joe Biden had advised Obama to tread delicately on the issue of gay marriage, not long before going public with his own support.
* Top campaign aides David Axelrod and Stephanie Cutter got into a weeks-long fight over a morning show appearance.
This does not look like a campaign — or an administration — running smoothly and on track for success. On the other hand, at least Obama has brought us together on one point: No one likes Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and no one wants to see her on television. Maybe we can build on that commonality to solve some of our other national problems, too.
Politico interviews Thrush to talk more about the e-book:
The portrait this paints is one of increasing desperation, and increasingly personal attacks from the Hopenchange President. My favorite line is the Team Obama frustration over “an economy that just won’t cooperate.” Funny, that’s what the economy thinks of the White House.
Update: Yeesh. I wrote “2008” in the headline; obviously, we’re talking about 2012. I’ve corrected it.