Back in 2008, Barack Obama and his media staff--David Axelrod, Anita Dunn and David Plouffe--had the press eating out of their hands. It was, to repeat a phrase, a slobbering love affair
. Things have changed in 24 short months.
Yesterday, Axelrod made time for a conference call with progressive bloggers. He’s trying to rally the troops for the midterms by talking to his capos in the field. But, according to Greg Sargent at the Plum Line (who gets kudos for admissions against interest), Axe didn’t get the reaction he expected.
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"You want us to help you, the first thing I would suggest is enough of the hippie punching," Madrak [Blogger at Crooks and Liars] added. "We're the girl you'll take under the bleachers but you won't be seen with in the light of day."
Axe tried to be conciliatory but Madrak wasn’t in the mood, saying “Don't make our jobs harder” to which Axe replied “Right back at ‘cha.”
What was once a love affair is now an ugly break up with accusations of domestic violence.
And it’s not just progressive bloggers who are tired of the rough treatment; it’s also members of Congress who were promised a signature issue to run on in the midterms. That hasn’t worked out so well and many have now abandoned Obama in their advertising. Some are even running ads highlighting their votes
against his signature achievements.
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But an affair this public and this tawdry can only end one way, and that’s with a splashy People
-magazine-style headline set over incriminating photos. We may have reached that point yesterday when the Daily Beast painted this picture
of a President’s fall from public grace:
Our tickets for the general reception at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York were only $100. Some thought the email invitation was a joke. Some bought tickets for $50 from their desperate Democratic committeeman. Some bought the same day.
Only 450 people came and some of them were there to heckle him. Ouch! It’s a long way from 2008 when people were offering kidneys
and other body parts on Craigslist for a chance to attend one of his rallies. Some of them are still doing that sort of thing, but now it’s for tickets to Justin Bieber. Empty celebrity is a harsh mistress.
The press and the public may need some time alone to recover from the breakup. They certainly aren’t ready for a first date with anyone else and may not be by 2012. But their resolve is hardening, even as he keeps showing up on the televised doorstep with flowers and extended unemployment benefits. And now he's pleading: "Baby, once I get this car out of the ditch I’m gonna drive us far away from here."
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Obama sounds like the street-wise romantic in Springsteen’s "Born to Run" and it’s tempting to get in and maybe just forget our troubles for a while. But if the polls are any indication, the nation is both sadder and wiser than it was in 2008. It was good while it lasted, but it turns out he wasn’t “The One” after all.