- Texas man arrested for powder-letter hoax
- Islamic State opens ‘marriage bureau’ for single jihadists
- Drone almost blocks California firefighting planes
- Tornado rips off roofs, downs trees near Boston
- GOP: Environmental rules keeping agents from accessing border
- John Kerry: Millions displaced by religious fighting in 2013
- Federal appeals court rules against Virginia’s gay marriage ban
- White House says Russia ‘losing’ war in Ukraine
- Hamas turns to North Korea for weapons deal, Iran for money
- Syrian casualties surge as jihadis consolidate
Axelrod: ‘We’ve learned some lessons’
Question of the Day
Humbled by a poor election for his party and sharply defensive about a tax deal with Republicans, Mr. Obama kept talking until he finally refocused on his whole purpose for being president. He spoke about the value of compromising, the merits of thinking long term, the point of leadership being to help people have better lives.
Since that moment in early December, what’s happened in the White House amounts to a presidential rediscovery in the eyes of Mr. Axelrod. He considers the last two months a template for the next two years and a re-election campaign in which, he promises, Mr. Obama will try to “play big” all over the electoral map and revitalize a weakened coalition.
It all helps explain why Mr. Axelrod seems so comfortable about quitting the place.
Mr. Obama’s chief political strategist, senior adviser, close friend, late-night sounding board and comedic foil is done at the White House. This was always his plan: two years of insider work from his office near Mr. Obama’s in the West Wing, then home to family and more freedom in Chicago.
But that doesn’t lessen the sense that Mr. Obama’s world is changing significantly.
“Axe,” as he is known, has had a huge internal influence. He and press secretary Robert Gibbs, who also is leaving, were at Mr. Obama’s side daily in his campaign and have been among the most trusted keepers of a remember-what-we-promised perspective. The whirling force of Rahm Emanuel also quit the chief of staff’s job in October to run for Chicago mayor.
Axe, Gibbs and Rahm — few major conversations in or about Mr. Obama’s first two years didn’t include those words.
Mr. Axelrod hears this and responds bullishly about the new members of Mr. Obama’s team, including Chief of Staff William M. Daley, incoming press secretary Jay Carney and senior adviser David Plouffe, who replaces Mr. Axelrod. That’s not to mention the guidance of the core advisers who are staying, such as senior adviser Valerie Jarrett and communications chief Dan Pfeiffer.
And it is on that point that Mr. Axelrod is now feeling better about what he’s leaving. In his mind, the president is back in his comfort zone.
When Republicans stormed to victory in November, most notably by winning a majority in the House, the White House was reeling. The sense was that the problem went beyond the plodding recovery of the economy or the unpopular interventions by the government to help or the giant health care law that swallowed up so much time and debate.
TWT Video Picks
- White House says Russia 'losing' war in Ukraine
- Hillary Clinton: Forget Obama, George W. Bush made her 'proud to be an American'
- D.C. seeks to stay judge's order allowing gun owners to carry in public
- Illegal immigrants demand representation in White House meetings
- Iraqi Christians rally at White House: 'Obama, Obama, where are you?'
- EPSTEIN: All IRS roads lead to the archivist
- Border surge puts Obama legacy on immigration at stake
- Inside the Beltway: Republican posse rides out to fire Harry Reid
- Tactical advantage: Russian military shows off impressive new gear
- KUHNER: Will Russia-Ukraine be Europe's next war?
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq