David Axelrod appeared on ABC's This Week to answer some questions about President Obama's upcoming speech after Labor Day and he also fielded questions by the Congressional Black Caucus and Michael Moore about how disappointed the liberal base
August 21, 2011

David Axelrod appeared on ABC's This Week to answer some questions about President Obama's upcoming speech after Labor Day and he also fielded questions by the Congressional Black Caucus and Michael Moore about how disappointed the liberal base has been as the administration has moved constantly to the right since he took over the Oval Office. This strategy took shape when Rahm Emmanuel began to push his DLC politics around and made it clear he didn't mind attacking the base whenever we disagreed with their tactics.

The anger on the left shows that Mr. Obama is caught in an internal battle over both the course of his administration and the Democratic Party. Many in the party, particularly in the wake of the loss [..] of a Massachusetts Senate seat, contend that the White House should chart a centrist approach focusing on the economy. They point to polls showing Mr. Obama's approval rating among independent voters has dropped by nearly 20 percentage points since early last year.
Activists and former campaign staff members watched with dismay as Mr. Emanuel and his team pursued a traditional Washington style of Capitol Hill negotiations and deal making. Activists on the left had hoped the administration would use Mr. Obama's grass-roots campaign network, Organizing for America, and its email list with 13 million names to pressure lawmakers into adopting a more left-leaning agenda, such as pushing for universal health-care coverage.

The WSJ article said the election of Scott Brown was a turning point for the administration, but that seems a shallow response to one special election with a candidate like Martha Coakley, who ran a terrible campaign against the tea party-backed Brown. You may remember that Michael Moore wrote a sarcastic letter to the President and said that he'd welcome the chance to be his new Chief of Staff.

Jake Tapper read a question to Axelrod from Moore, asking if the administration is aware of or considering the consequences of this callous assumptions of those who elected him.

ABC Transcript:

TAPPER: Lastly, David, I know that you're well aware that you have a big task ahead of you when it comes to motivating Obama supporters from 2008 and potentially future Obama supporters, rallying the base. Progressive filmmaker Michael Moore had this question that he wanted me to ask you.

Quote, "Are you aware of how profoundly disappointed so many of the president's supporters are? Do you realize that each time the president moves to the right, he picks up no votes and loses many? Or do you cynically believe that because these people have nowhere else to go, they'll end up voting for Obama?"

How do you respond to liberals like Michael Moore, who want to vote for the president, but are just profoundly disappointed? How do you convince them to turn out in November 2012?

AXELROD: Well, first of all, no one is cynically moving one way or the other. The president is not moving left or right; he's interested in moving the country forward.

And we've got a very, very sharp debate here. And the question is, are we going to take steps in the short run to help stimulate this economy, to help create jobs, to help create growth? And are we going to take the steps in the long run that will protect the investments that can grow our economy and, most importantly, Jake, can create good middle-class jobs in the future on which people can raise their families?

That's what education is about. That's what research and development to create new technologies and advance manufacturing is about. That's what the infrastructure -- that's what roads and bridges and repairs that put people to work now, but also create the opportunity to move -- to move our goods across this country. And all of these things are part and parcel of a strategy that is completely opposed by the other side, who want to go back to the same trickle-down, deregulation. You know, the same mantra we heard in the last decade that led up to this problem we're hearing again. I think that this is such a profound choice that the president's supporters and independent voters and people across this country will rally, because the future will be determined by this debate and the path we take.

The fact that Axelrod is still playing at the bipartisan game is really sad. Rahm's strategy to attract independents did not work, nor did the same strategy work in the debt ceiling negotiations under Daley after he was gone. And it was no secret that the administration did decide to swing right when it adopted deficit reduction as a huge priority.

Yes, the two parties clearly do have different positions on our social safety nets. Axelrod can try to explain it to death as most liberal elitists do instead of taking strong stands that can rally Americans behind them. Just look at all the polling. Telling middle class Americans we have to tighten our belts and supporting austerity measures during a terrible economy was a political decision, but more importantly, is nothing more than a conservative philosophy. We know that President Obama is reading Rick Perlstein's book; I hope Axelrod and his boss will read his Time piece before the Labor Day speech: How Democrats Win: Defending the Social Safety Net

Here’s what LBJ knew that ­McGovern didn’t: There are few or no historical instances in which saying clearly what you are for and what you are against makes Americans less divided. But there is plenty of evidence that attacking the wealthy has not made them more divided. After all, the man who said of his own day’s plutocrats, “I welcome their hatred,” also assembled the most enduring political coalition in U.S. history.

The Republicans will call it class warfare. Let them. Done right, economic populism cools the political climate. Just knowing that the people in power are willing to lie down on the tracks for them can make the middle much less frantic. Which makes America a better place. And which, incidentally, makes Democrats win

(h/t Heather of Video Cafe for the video)

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