In the days of the old Pravda, one could determine who was winning secret Politburo power struggles by just looking at the official Soviet newspaper. Those winning simply got better press.
Perhaps it may be no different here in the United States.
This week two of the heaviest guns in American media, The Washington Post and The New York Times, unloaded their missiles at Obama adviser David Axelrod while heralding White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel as a centrist and pragmatist.
This Sunday’s New York Times, for example, features Axelrod and describes him as the ideological courtier advising the president into darkness as Emanuel remains the level-headed counselor.
Here’s an excerpt from “Message Maven Finds Fingers Pointing at Him”:
“Recent news reports have cast the White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, as the administration’s chief pragmatist, and Mr. Axelrod, by implication, as something of a swooning loyalist. ‘I’ve heard him be called a “Moonie,”’ dismissed Mr. Axelrod’s close friend, former Commerce Secretary William Daley. Or as the White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, joked, ‘the guy who walks in front of the president with rose petals.’”
The Times speculates that the “No Drama Obama” Team is indeed “fracturing.” The Times report follows the page one, top-of-the-fold story in Tuesday’s Washington Post that screamed “Hotheaded Emanuel May Be White House Voice of Reason.”
The Post story details the enormous transformation Rahm has been making.
Once considered a “caricature,” the paper says he has had a reputation as D.C.’s “resident leviathan, a bullying, bruising White House chief of staff who is a prime target for the failings of the Obama administration.”
But then the dagger falls on Axelrod as Emanuel is played as the White House voice of reason, as the Post describes:
“But a contrarian narrative is emerging: Emanuel is a force of political reason within the White House and could have helped the administration avoid its current bind if the president had heeded his advice on some of the most sensitive subjects of the year: health-care reform, jobs and trying alleged terrorists in civilian courts.“
Emanuel could have saved Obama from falling poll numbers if only he had avoided all the agenda items pushed by Axelrod!
For instance, the Post notes that Emanuel pressed Obama not to allow Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed to be tried in civilian court.
Attorney General Eric Holder argued for doing just that as a matter of “principle.”
The Post says: “David Axelrod, senior adviser to Obama, supported Holder, the source said. The president agreed that letting the Justice Department take the lead was the right thing to do.”
The paper quotes Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham: “During this whole civilian-trial debate, Rahm’s gut instincts knew that taking KSM to New York for civilian trials was going to be a misstep. He has a better ear for domestic politics on this issue than anybody in the administration, quite frankly.”
Kremlinologists can see the handwriting on the wall. Axelrod will soon be ousted or sidelined. Rahm emerges, and so does a more pragmatic and moderate Obama.