Opportunity for irrelevant but cute Oval Office photo duly taken.
A new e-book from Politico reports that the Obama campaign team is riven by personal disagreements and conflicts. David Axelrod isn't talking to Stephanie Cutter. There are doubts about the effectiveness of the DNC chairwoman. Everyone thinks Biden is an idiot. That's about it, really.
It's fairly small potatoes, and the reason this counts as news at all is that Obama ran a famously tight ship in 2008. His team, especially in contrast to Hillary Clinton's and then John McCain's, were as close to being as one mind as it's possible to be in a political campaign. They rarely leaked - except on purpose - and there were, apparently, no major strategic arguments, or warring cliques.
Such unity is impossible to maintain in government and maybe not even desirable. The decisions become much bigger, more consequential and more complex, involving many more different parties, including those from outside the inner circle. Then, as anyone who watched the last series of West Wing knows, when the reelection campaign takes off there are inevitable conflicts between the campaign team, who are focused on 100% on the election, and the White House team who still want to get stuff done.
Actually, Obama and his team might conclude that if this is the best Politico has got, then they must be doing a pretty good job.
There are a few interesting snippets further down the piece, however, including this bit about the supposed attitude of Obama towards his opponent:
Obama really doesn’t like, admire or even grudgingly respect Romney. It’s a level of contempt, say aides, he doesn’t even feel for the conservative, combative House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the Hill Republican he disliked the most. “There was a baseline of respect for John McCain. The president always thought he was an honorable man and a war hero,” a longtime Obama adviser said. “That doesn’t hold true for Romney. He was no goddamned war hero.”
Time and again Obama has told the people around him that Romney stood for “nothing.” The word he would use to describe Romney was “weak,” too weak to stand up to his own moneymen, too weak to defend his own moderate record as the man who signed into law the first health insurance mandate as Massachusetts governor in 2006, too weak to admit Obama had done a single thing right as president.
This is particularly interesting because it suggests that Obama agrees with Marbury on the question of how to tackle Romney.
So far the Obama campaign has spent a ton of its funds on persuading voters that Romney is a bastard. In doing so, they risk building Romney up into a worthy enemy when they ought to be belittling him, as Bush did so successfully to Kerry. It shouldn't be hard: everything about Romney's record, and everything about Romney, speaks of a man who embodies the worst qualities of the political breed: spinelessness and superficiality. He is a man who has - as Christopher Hitchens once said of Al Gore - placed his self-respect into a blind trust.
Yet by concentrating fire on his record at Bain, the Obama team risk fixing Romney in the public mind as a businessman rather than a politician - which is exactly what Romney wants them to think too.