David Axelrod is a savvy politico. However, when he told the POTUS 44 before the 2008 campaign began that a first-term junior Senator from Illinois had a shot at the presidencey because he wasn't George W. Bush, he overlooks a very important political fact in 2016.. While Axelrod has a point about Der Trumpster: Obama II he ain't; he fails to mention the most important non-Obama attribute that Der Trumpster possesses: the color of his skin. If this is a (fair & balanced) example of racial politics in the United States, so be it.
[x NY Fishwrap]
The Obama Theory Of Trump
By David Axelrod
Tag Cloud of the following piece of writing
It was so obvious, I’m embarrassed I missed it.
Like most of the other talking heads on TV, I was haughtily dismissive of Donald Trump’s candidacy. “It’s apparently open mike day in the Republican campaign for president,” I tweeted last June, after Mr. Trump barged into a relatively placid Republican race with a rambling, riotous speech.
Even as he climbed to the top of polls, I confidently predicted that the outrageous Mr. Trump, as transfixing and ubiquitous as he was, was merely a summer fling. He would fade in the fall, when Republican voters got serious about making a long-term commitment.
Seven months later, Mr. Trump has broken just about every rule of conventional campaigning. Short on policy prescriptions and long on provocation, he has serially — and joyfully — insulted Mexicans, women, Muslims, POWs, people with disabilities and virtually all of his opponents. Yet a week before caucusing begins in Iowa, he still reigns supreme atop the Republican field.
What seemed impossible is now more than plausible: Donald J. Trump, the self-reverential deal maker, could pull off a hostile takeover of the Grand Old Party.
The galling thing is, if I had only reread my own words, written nine years ago to another aspiring candidate, I would have taken the Trump candidacy more seriously from the start.
In late 2006, when Barack Obama was a first-term senator pondering a long-shot race for the presidency, he asked me to write a strategic memo exploring his prospects. My bullish analysis was predicated on several factors, but rooted in a theory I had developed over decades as a political writer and campaign consultant.
Here’s the gist. Open-seat presidential elections are shaped by perceptions of the style and personality of the outgoing incumbent. Voters rarely seek the replica of what they have. They almost always seek the remedy, the candidate who has the personal qualities the public finds lacking in the departing executive.
A young, energetic John F. Kennedy succeeded the grandfatherly, somnolent Dwight D. Eisenhower, promising “a new generation of leadership.” In a slight variation, a puritanical Jimmy Carter, offering “a government as good as its people,” defeated the unelected incumbent Gerald R. Ford, who bore the burden of the morally bankrupt Nixon era.
Even George H.W. Bush, running to succeed the popular and larger-than-life Ronald Reagan, subtly made a virtue of his own lack of charisma and edge.
The pattern followed in 2008, as Mr. Bush’s son completed his final term in office.
“The most influential politician in 2008 won’t be on the ballot,” I wrote to Senator Obama in 2006. “His name is George W. Bush.”
As the 2008 campaign began, many Americans and most Democrats saw Mr. Bush as rash, bellicose, divisive — oblivious to the demands and opportunities of a rapidly changing world. His presidency had come to be defined by the momentous decision to invade Iraq, which became a quagmire.
Senator Obama had publicly opposed the war from the start, which separated him from most of the Democratic field. But more than that, his profile, temperament and approach offered the sharpest departure from those of the embattled, retiring president he would ultimately replace. For those who found President Bush wanting, Senator Obama was the most obvious remedy.
Today, after seven eventful years, attitudes toward President Obama will shape the selection of his successor.
The Republican base is infuriated by Mr. Obama’s activist view of government and progressive initiatives, from health care reform to immigration, gay rights to climate change.
Beyond specific issues, however, many Republicans view dimly the very qualities that played so well for Mr. Obama in 2008. Deliberation is seen as hesitancy; patience as weakness. His call for tolerance and passionate embrace of America’s growing diversity inflame many in the Republican base, who view with suspicion and anger the rapidly changing demographics of America. The president’s emphasis on diplomacy is viewed as appeasement.
So who among the Republicans is more the antithesis of Mr. Obama than the trash-talking, authoritarian, give-no-quarter Mr. Trump?
His bombast allows no room for nuance or complexity. He proudly extols his intolerance as an assault against “political correctness,” and he vows to bring the world to heel, from Mexico to China to Syria and Iraq.
Mr. Trump has found an audience with Americans disgruntled by the rapid, disorderly change they associate with national decline and their own uncertain prospects. Policies be damned, who better to set things right than the defiant strong man who promises by sheer force of will to make America great again?
Yes, we can? Hell, no!
Just leave it to me, Mr. Trump says. Yes, I can!
The robust condemnations Mr. Trump has received from media and political elites have only intensified the enthusiasm of his supporters, many of whom feel disdained and forgotten by the very same people who regularly mock and chide their man for his boorishness. To his base, he’s a truth-teller, thumbing his nose at conventional politicians, whether they are liberal or conservative. Rebukes from fact checkers and purveyors of civil discourse? They’re just so much establishment claptrap.
Relentlessly edgy, confrontational and contemptuous of the niceties of governance and policy making, Mr. Trump is the perfect counterpoint to a president whose preternatural cool and deliberate nature drive his critics mad.
Mr. Trump may still stumble. His consistent lead in national primary polls may not hold as the Republican field shrinks and potentially coalesces around an alternative. As he himself suggested a few months ago, people may tire of the show. We also don’t know how the ebullient front-runner, who never fails to boast of his gaudy poll numbers, will react when and if he loses primary contests.
Unlike in 2008, when Mr. Obama’s appeal reached a majority of independents and even some Republicans, polling suggests that if he were nominated, Mr. Trump would face a steep uphill battle in a general election. As of today, he has the lowest standing, by far, of any major Republican candidate among Democrats and independent voters. His nativist rants have walled him off from the growing Hispanic vote, which could hold the key to several important swing states this fall.
It’s far too early to picture the iconic Trump logo affixed to the White House portico. But as the most ardent and conspicuous counterpoint to the man in the White House today, the irrepressible Mr. Trump already has defied all expectations. So, in the parlance of one of his signature businesses, “Who wants to bet?” Ω
[David Axelrod, the former senior strategist for Barack Obama, is the director of the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago and the author of Believer: My Forty Years in Politics (2015). Axelrod received a BA (political science) from the University of Chicago.]
Copyright &$169; 2016 The NEw York Times Company
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License..
Copyright © 2016 Sapper's (Fair & Balanced) Rants & Raves