Bob Franken

Axelrod and Emanuel: News “Fit to Print” On One Side

You know how it is when a couple is going through a divorce. So often the friends feel obligated to choose sides. Sure you do. Larry David did a program about it. That’s where I plagiarized the idea. With great “Enthusiasm” I might add. But I digress.

This split-up is happening right now with the disintegration of the Rahm Emanuel-David Axelrod marriage-of-convenience which is agonizingly playing out for all the world to see…at least those in the world who read the New York Times and Washington Post.

The Post went first…shamelessly turning into what could only be called the “Emanuel Manual”. There was one article after another about how the beleaguered White House Chief-of-Staff had been done wrong.

Now it’s the Times’ turn. And sure enough, true to the spirit of competition, it has now become the Axelrod Almanac”. There it was on the front page: a love feast called “White House Message Maven Finds Fingers Pointing at Him”. Since we’re talking Emanuel, as the adversary, it’s easy to imagine which finger. But again, a digression.

For those who have tried to ignore this foolishness until now, a brief catch-up: Various Rahm Emanuel supporters have gone on background to complain things are not going well for the Obama presidency because Emanuel doesn’t always get his way about how things are done.

The implication is that the President ignores his words of wisdom and too often follows the advice of his old buddies from Chicago and the campaign, who are over their heads when it comes to playing the Washington game. By implication, that would begin with David Axelrod. Forget “implication”: The message is heavy handedly obvious.

The Emanuel people have had great success getting to Washington Post reporters with it, and as we’ve seen, these reporters had equal success getting to their editors and into the paper. Not once but twice. It was enough to make eve David Broder devote column to criticizing it and the Ombudsperson to write another one about it. In the Post!

Of course, Axelrod, in his New York Times puff piece uttered the ritualistic denial of any conflict at all, or as he put it, “fissure with my buddy Rahm”. But part of this game is to declare something warm and cuddly like that, and keep a straight face while saying it. In Washington-speak, that is a clear cut way of declaring war or condemning and someone to fall into the “fissure” for eternity.

Once again we see this transparent intrigue being played out on the front pages of each pliant paper, although it would probably be more appropriately placed in the Entertainment sections. It is such great theater.

This soap opera might be called “The Unmaking of the President”. At least it starting to look that way. What is so interesting about all the articles on both sides of the divide, is how little attention the narrative pays to Mr. Obama. It is his presidency, after all, that is fraying.

To avoid a full unraveling, he might want to make his presence felt by ending these behind-the-scenes games. It’s clearly time for head knocking right out front, for everyone to see, maybe on television this time. In TV news, of course, nobody ever takes sides.

Posted in Uncategorized

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap