We’re well beyond the point at which we can chalk David Axelrod’s strikingly antagonistic comments about Hillary Clinton’s campaign-in-waiting up to artlessness or a temporary failure to observe etiquette. At this point, it has become clear that President Barack Obama’s close advisor is deliberately undercutting the position of the Democratic candidate aspiring to replace him in the White House.
In conjunction with a media tour promoting the release of his memoirs, Axelrod has been on a conspicuous mission to call into question Hillary Clinton’s abilities as a campaigner.
On MSNBC’s “Hardball” earlier this week, Axelrod said John Podesta, who is expected to be Clinton’s campaign chairman in the coming months, “has to get control of the Clinton operation.”
In a radio podcast with Politico’s Glenn Thrush, he said Clinton’s paid six-figure speeches may have hurt her chances in 2016 and that he would have advised her to take a different approach.
Even his book reveals what Axelrod wrote to Obama in a memo about Clinton before the two went head-to-head in the grueling 2008 Democratic primary.
“…For all her advantages, she is not a healing figure,” Axelrod wrote in a 12-page strategic memo to Obama in late 2006, “The more she tries to moderate her image, the more she … compounds her exposure as an opportunist.”
According to a source who spoke with The Hill, the former secretary of state’s allies appear both hurt and stunned by Axelrod’s blatant effort to blow out Clinton’s candle in order to make the president’s appear to shine brighter.
“She’s been a great team player, she’s been very supportive of the president and she hasn’t gotten in front of him on a lot of issues so what’s he trying to do?” one unnamed Clinton ally told The Hill.
“It’s not helpful, and it’s definitely not appreciated,” another said.
They haven’t seen anything yet. Speaking with Yahoo’s Katie Couric recently, Axelrod shed all self-awareness in order to make the point that Hillary Clinton’s supporters were cultivating a cult of personality around her and that was a dangerous condition. Yes, really! (hat tip to The Washington Free Beacon):
“People are so eager for her to be there that they started this organization, and it isn’t her campaign,” Axelrod said of the sycophantic draft movement slash Super PAC Ready for Hillary.
“They’re not articulating a vision that a candidate would articulate, and yet there’s this cult of personality growing up,” he continued. “And that’s dangerous.”
“She’s going to have to correct that when she becomes a candidate,” Axelrod insisted.
I’m not sure, but that seems incongruous with the advice Axelrod gave to Obama when he served as his 2008 campaign advisor. Let’s check:
Nope. Nothing here about preventing a “dangerous” cult of personality. So, we’re left to draw one of two inescapable conclusions: Either Axelrod genuinely believes that Clinton is blowing the race or he is not all that eager to see her succeed Obama in the White House.
You would think that a subtle campaign of passive aggression between the president and his anointed Democratic successor would be of some mild interest to the political press corps, especially considering how difficult it has become to overlook.