Such colorfully named folks provide some tips for press types interested in what’s to become of press secretary Robert Gibbs:
“The president said, ‘What is our biggest void here?’ ” recalls another top adviser. “We don’t have a Begala and Carville out there. We’ve got nobody out there in D.C. on cable making our case. Who’s gonna do that? That’s not Axe’s thing—Robert’s that guy. He’s pugnacious, he’s good on TV, we need him out there. What I like to joke is, he’s a better-looking version of James Carville.”
And for those interested in what’s to come from message man David Plouffe and the thinking behind a Chicago-based campaign operation, there’s this:
Many politicos believe that putting it there is lunacy; that no amount of geographical hocus-pocus can confer outsider status on an incumbent president; that the benefits of being outside the Beltway are vastly outweighed by the loss of proximity to the principal. But Plouffe avidly argues otherwise: that being in Chicago will enable the campaign to be in closer touch with ordinary voters, and also less prone to leaks or becoming suffused with conventional wisdom. Moreover, he is confident that the tightness of the Obama team is such that proximity matters little. “It isn’t like in 2008, Barack Obama was in our headquarters twice a week holding strategy meetings—he was out campaigning,” Plouffe says. “We made a lot of decisions by conference call, and, you know, it worked out okay.”
In keeping with the theme, Heilemann finishes his piece with something of a “Season Two” cliffhanger—though it’s one that for the most part avoids the most pressing “will they or won’t they?” question driving the current presidential drama: Will they or won’t they get the unemployment rate down?
Still, Heilemann’s “grandee” provides a nice kicker.
Nowhere in the Constitution is the spinning of yarns enumerated as a responsibility of the president of the United States. Yet the most successful of them in our recent history—Roosevelt, Reagan, Clinton—were all masters of the art. For a variety of reasons, Obama lost his storyteller’s touch, and also his connection to what made so many vest so much hope in him to begin with: his apparent capacity to lift the country up and calm it down at the same time. Has he figured out how to reclaim that brand of mojo? Not yet, not fully. But at least he understands he must, which is a start. “It’s kind of like with a 12-step program,” says the grandee. “Before you can begin fixing your life, you have to admit you have a problem.”
*Note: Headline originally read “Obama profile” without the WH, which might have been misleading.