Saturday, August 29, 2009

President Obama, An Unlikely Protégé of the Late Liberal Lion of the Senate

Glenn Thrush at Politico reports on the Axelrod and Edwards embrace at last night’s memorial for Ted Kennedy. I’m reminded that Axelrod is the guru who convinced Americans that a political candidate’s compelling personal narrative was more critical to his or her success than relevant qualifications backed with a substantive resume.

Who can forget Edwards standing tall in his jeans at a campaign site, talking to the folks about his life as the son of a mill worker and his impassioned pledge to resolve the rift between the ‘two Americas’ – the rich and the poor? In case you didn’t know, that was all Axelrod stuff.

Axelrod was also instrumental in the successful campaign of Deval Patrick for governor of Massachusetts and would later lift some of the rhetoric from Patrick’s speeches to pad presidential candidate Obama’s rousing orations. As Hillary Clinton pointed out in a subsequent debate: “That’s not change you can believe in, that’s Xeroxing.”

As we soon discovered, though, Obama was Axelrod’s golden boy with a personal narrative so powerful it even caused the likes of Chris Wallace and David Brooks to fall into a swoon from which they’re only now beginning to awaken. Not to mention the fact that the Kennedy clan saw a flicker of hope for reviving Camelot by passing the torch to the young senator whose sole claim to superior judgment was a speech he gave as an Illinois legislator opposing the Iraq war.

(Have I mentioned that I signed a petition at my church opposing the invasion of Iraq? Odd - I've never once thought that action qualified me to be president of the United States.)

Eight months in and the former peace candidate who gave the eulogy today at Ted Kennedy’s memorial mass has adopted most of the national security policies of George W. Bush, while our military lingers in Iraq and we pour more and more troops and treasure into the nine-year war in Afghanistan.

As Obama continues to follow in the footsteps of his predecessor, it becomes increasingly difficult to see him as a protégé of Ted Kennedy who was known as the liberal lion of the U.S. Senate.

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