During an interview on the Today show this morning, presidential adviser David Axelrod told host Savannah Guthrie, “This is not a partisan day.” But the President’s 2nd inaugural speech contradicted that message at times, veering into criticism of GOP congressional opponents and even Mitt Romney.
There was also a reference to “takers” in Obama’s speech which Howard Kurtz described as a “an echo of his battle against Mitt Romney.” And in one of his few memorable lines, the President said, “We cannot mistakeabsolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treatname-calling as reasoned debate.”
The clear partisanship of Obama’s speech left Axelrod in the difficult position of either defending the President’s political attacks or spinning. Appearing on Fox shortly after Obama’s speech, Axelrod chose to spin.
Asked about Obama’s partisan barbs, including the one about absolutism, Axelrod resorted to hand-waving: “I don’t think he specified that that applies to anybody… I don’t think that absolutism, and I’m sure the President would say the same, on the part of either party or any politician is helpful in solving problems.”
Contrary to Axelrod’s claim, that is not what the President would say. In fact, we only have to go back one week to see what he actually did say.
During a pressconference held last Monday, President Obama said: “We never saw a situation aswe saw last year in which certain groups in Congress took such anabsolutist position…” Later in the same press conference, Obama criticized his GOP opponents for “blasting me for being a big-spendingsocialist.”
Compare that to what Obama said today: “We cannot mistakeabsolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treatname-calling as reasoned debate.” It’s the same partisan attacks used by the President in two speeches given just one week apart. Axelrod will have a difficult time spinning his way out of that correlation.