As of now, I am in control here, in the White House

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Obama Gives Up on Israeli-Palestinian Peace Deal; Blames Netanyahu

President Obama told Israeli TV in an interview broadcast Tuesday that a Palestinian-Israeli peace deal is not going to happen under his watch.

Secretary of State John Kerry, you may remember, wasted two years trying to arrange a Nobel Peace Prize for himself by seeking to force the two sides together into an agreement neither was particularly interested in reaching at the moment.

Fortunately, with the Iran deal, Kerry has a new path toward a Nobel Prize, which at least has given him something else to do.

Instead blaming himself for the failure – this of course could never happen – Obama blamed Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, saying Bibi had “lost credibility” in the quest for peace. Somehow, the Palestinians, who are led in part by terrorists and regularly launch bombs on the heads of the Israelis, retain their peacenik creds.

From an Associated Press article about the interview:

“I don’t see the likelihood of a framework agreement,” Obama said in an interview with Uvda, a current-affairs program produced by Israel’s top-rated Channel Two and Keshet television. “The question is how do we create some building blocks of trust and progress.”

While Obama has acknowledged the geographical and ideological divisions among Palestinians that have bedeviled peace efforts, in the interview — taped in the White House on Friday — he focused on Netanyahu’s policies . . .

Obama said Netanyahu’s position “has so many caveats, so many conditions that it is not realistic to think that those conditions would be met at any time in the near future.

“So the danger is that Israel as a whole loses credibility. Already, the international community does not believe that Israel is serious about a two-state solution.”

Meanwhile, the president apparently proclaimed himself an honorary Jew, telling advisor David Axelrod at one point, “You know, I think I am the closest thing to a Jew that has ever sat in this office,” and adding, “For people to say that I am anti-Israel, or, even worse, anti-Semitic, it hurts.”

Anyway, no doubt the closest thing to a Jew will soon be launching retributive actions against Israel in the UN for it’s failure to make peace with enemies sworn to destroy it.

Obama Campaign Shifts Into Extreme Attack Mode

With its candidate having been swamped in the debate by an aggressive and articulate Gov. Mitt Romney, the Obama campaign is switching fully into attack mode, moving beyond earlier assaults on Romney’s business record and wealth toward a new drive to destroy his character.

Casting completely aside the Obama 2008 brand of a hopeful unifier, Obama’s operatives Thursday dived straight the jugular, working on multiple fronts to brand Romney a liar. The campaign, Obama aides made clear, would henceforth be conducted exclusively Chicago style.

In a vicious and personal assault rarely conducted at the highest level of U.S. politics, White House senior adviser David Plouffe repeatedly told reporters aboard Air Force One that Romney was “dishonest.” With the president of the United States in a cabin just a few steps away, his top adviser pushed out the new campaign theme that the man who had bested him in the debate Wednesday night is an untrustworthy scoundrel.

Generally presidential campaigns leave such personal attacks to surrogates, at least preserving the appearance that presidential candidates are above such things

Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki opened Plouffe’s remarks by airing for reporters the new Obama campaign ad, “Trust,” which claims that Romney is lying about his tax plan and can’t be trusted to be president.

On a separate front, top campaign adviser David Axelrod convened a phone call with reporters telling them that the “question” for them “is really one of character and whether or not a candidacy that’s so fundamentally rooted in hiding the truth and the facts from the American people and deception is the basis of trust on which you assign the presidency to a person.”

Axelrod announced that this would be the new theme of the Obama campaign. “That is what we are going to focus on moving forward,” he said.

Report: DOJ Gallup Suit Followed Axelrod Complaint

I wanted to alert you to this investigative piece in The Daily Caller that shows a possible correlation between a Justice Department lawsuit against Gallup and the failure of Gallup to come up with poll numbers satisfactory to the White House.

From the piece:

Internal emails between senior officials at The Gallup Organization, obtained by The Daily Caller, show senior Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod attempting to subtly intimidate the respected polling firm when its numbers were unfavorable to the president.

After Gallup declined to change its polling methodology, Obama’s Department of Justice hit it with an unrelated lawsuit that appears damning on its face.

Axelrod in April tweeted that there were methodological problems with a Gallup poll giving Gov. Mitt Romney a five point edge over President Obama. The White House has long been concerned that, in its view, Gallup tilts against Obama.

Around the time of Axelrod’s tweet, in an archetypal Obama White House intimidation tactic, the White House asked a Gallup official to come over and “explain” the firm’s methodology.

A third senior Gallup official said he thought Axelrod’s pressure “sounds a little like a Godfather situation.”

“Imagine Axel[rod] with Brando’s voice: ‘[Name redacted], I’d like you to come over and explain your methodology…You got a nice poll there….would be a shame if anything happened to it…’”

Axelrod at the time was already with the campaign, so the pressure on Gallup was being brought to bear from Chicago and the White House.

And then in August, the Justice Department signed on to a lawsuit against Gallup that had been brought by a former Gallup employee in 2009.

Go figyah.

Axelrod’s Obamacare Rebate

The hiring of Obama political guru David Axelrod’s “former” PR firm to promote Obamacare just got fishier.

As is already known, the firm Axelrod left to take a job in the White House, AKPD Message and Media, made millions after it was hired in 2009 by the “outside” coalition of pro-Obamacare health and labor groups to run ads supporting the initiative.

Alllrighht! Photo by Keith Koffler

It was not such a “former” Axelrod firm. His son worked there, and he was continuing to receive money from it in annual installments to satisfy the terms under which AKPD had brought him out.

Now, Kim Strassel reports in the Wall Street Journal that AKPD officials working on Obamacare seemed to owe their allegiance to the White House, and the outside group, Healthy Economy Now, may have been taking orders from AKPD, not the other way around.

According to emails released by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, HEN was midwifed by White House aide Jim Messina – who now runs the Obama 2012 campaign – during a meeting he arranged for representatives of business and labor. And, Strassel writes, the ties between HEN and the White House remained solid:

In email after email, the contributors to HEN refer to four men as the “White House” team running health care. They included John Del Cecato and Larry Grisolano (partners at AKPD), as well as Andy Grossman (who once ran the DSCC) and Erik Smith, who had been a paid adviser to the Obama presidential campaign.

In one email, PhRMA consultant Steve McMahon calls these four the “WH-designated folks.” He explains to colleagues that Messrs. Grossman, Grisolano and Del Cecato “are very close to Axelrod,” and that “they have been put in charge of the campaign to pass health reform.”

Ron Pollack, whose Families USA was part of the HEN coalition, explained to colleagues that “the team that is working with the White House on health-care reform. . . . [Grossman, Smith, Del Cecato, Grisolano] . . . would like to get together with us.” This would provide “guidance from the White House about their messaging.”

The closeness of Axelrod and the White House to AKPD operatives suggests that the White House may have gotten exactly who it wanted running the show.

The White House response? Nothing to see here. Said White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest on Friday:

This was reported extensively two years ago that Mr. Axelrod was not involved in any way in the contract between AKDP and PhRMA on the issue of health care reform. And there’s nothing new that was reported in the Wall Street Journal or anywhere else that sheds anything — that sheds any new light on that.

This is the refrain that we’ll here constantly from the White House when anything new comes up about Obama: Been there, done that. Obama’s already been vetted, remember?

And the media which failed to properly vet him last time around will mostly concur.

But there’s more than enough new smoke here to suggest an investigation is in order into whether the following fire burns: Did someone at the White House – like say, David Axelrod – push for AKPD to be hired by these cash-rich outside groups, or did they somehow figure it out on their own?

As Strassel notes, the White House is supposed to avoid even the appearance on impropriety. And this looks very inappropriate.

Gallup || Obama Approval at 50 Percent

President Obama has been at 50 percent approval in the Gallup daily tracking poll for the past two days, a sign that his popularity has genuinely increased since its lows last summer when he had creeped down to 38 percent.

In addition, Gallup finds that Obama leads Romney by seven points, 49-42 percent, with the president’s position improving lately among independents.

David Axelrod fist pump in East Room
Yeah baby, 50 percent! . . . Photo by Keith Koffler

That half the country approves of the job Obama suggests not only that he will be tough to beat. It indicates many people are willing to support Obama no matter what the economic conditions, and that some strategist within the West Wing knows what they’re doing.

Think about this. Unemployment is above 8 percent. The economy is sluggish. Iran is on the verge of a nuclear capability. Gas prices are a $4 per gallon. The president has no plan to fix anything. And yet one out of two people think he’s doing a good job.

The White House in recent weeks has embarked on a policy of touting small, meaningless proposals as if they were the Ten Commandments. Meanwhile, they are savaging the Republicans as if they were Grinches who stole Christmas, Easter, and Passover.

Someone seems to be buying it.

Whether such tactics will hold up in the long run I can’t say. I don’t believe people win the presidency by vilifying others. And the next round of economic data to come out through the spring is likely to show that the economy is crawling back into its hole.

What these poll numbers may signal is that Obama will not defeat himself, and the economy alone will not be his downfall.

Romney will have to win this election, if he is to win it. And the way he won the primary – by remaining on his feet while others collapsed of their own weight around him – will not work in the general election.

Mitt will have to earn the love. Thing is, he’s not really that lovable.

A Grim Encounter for Michelle

The scene is the first lady’s office in the East Wing of the White House. Two of President Obama’s top political advisers, David Axelrod and David Plouffe, have stopped by for a chat about Michelle’s spending habits.


Axelrod: Mrs. Obama, we want to talk to you about, you know, um . . .

Michelle: No, I don’t know.

Plouffe: Your spending. Your over-spending, to be precise.

Michelle: Excuse me?

Axelrod: Mrs. Obama, the campaign this year is going to be painting a contrast between President Obama as a man of the people and Mitt Romney as an out-of-touch elitist. But if you keep taking luxury vacations and wearing all this expensive stuff, it’s going to undermine our message.

Michelle: You’re not talking about the lingerie are you? You know that story is false.

Axelrod: I know, it’s just –

Michelle: I mean, what was I going to do with $50,000 worth of lingerie? You know, unless I was planning to go into business myself.

Axelrod: No, of course not. You –

Michelle: I only spent $40,000 in that store, and that’s a fact.

Plouffe: What??

Michelle: See, you guys are too easy. I’m just messing with you.

Plouffe: Oh, thank God.

Axelrod: For example, Mrs. Obama, very regrettably, we need you to cancel your upcoming ski vacation in Colorado.

Michelle: What? Cancel my trip to Colorado? Now where am I going to ski? You know full well there’s no snow on the East Coast. Of course I’m going to Colorado.

Plouffe: You see, you just had a vacation, and to average Americans, it looks bad that you jet out to Colorado, eat buffalo ribs at a fancy restaurant, and so forth. You can’t go to Colorado.

Michelle: Okay, I’ll go to Utah.

Plouffe: No, you see, that doesn’t really solve the problem. Can’t you ski somewhere in Virginia?

Michelle: You mean on snow made by snow machines? No chance in Hell.

Axelrod: And while we’re on the dining issue, we really need you to tone it down. Actually, we want to arrange for an AP photographer to just happen to photograph you at McDonald’s.

Michelle: Okay, I can do that. What do they serve there?

Plouffe: At McDonald’s?

Michelle: Yes.

Axelrod: Oh, well, you know, burgers, fries, that kind of thing.

Michelle: That’s right, I haven’t been there in a while. But I can get a perfectly good burger at Morton’s Steakhouse.

Axelrod: Again, that doesn’t exactly solve our problem.

Michelle: Okay, I’ll go to McDonald’s. I’ll have a Big and Tasty.

Plouffe: They don’t serve that anymore.

Axelrod: Also, we’d like to turn down the volume on your wardrobe a bit. For example, if you could avoid wearing any dress that costs more than $300, it would really help.

Michelle: Okay, no dress for more than $3,000

Plouffe: No, he said $300.

Michelle: Oh, I see. How about I just show up in a towel?

Plouffe: And how much do you need to spend on a handbag?

Michelle: Do you want buy some cheap piece of junk? Do you want my stuff falling out all over the place on the street?

Plouffe: Certainly, there’s some type of quality stitching you can get for less than a hundred bucks. I mean, it’s just something to put your things in, right?

Michelle: That’s exactly how men look at handbags. For women, it’s more important what’s on the outside of a handbag than the inside it.

Plouffe: Listen, once we’re reelected, you can do whatever you want. We just need to put the spending on standby until November.

Michelle: And then I can get my bling back on?

Axelrod: Yes, absolutely.

Michelle: Okay, I’ll do it. Now, you guys have to leave. My wellness coach and my acupuncturist are waiting for me.

While Cairo Burns, Obama Parties

The Washington A-List was out in force Saturday night at the farewell party for senior adviser David Axelrod, with a roster of guests featuring Cabinet secretaries, big shot journos and – President Obama.

As revolution threatened to sweep Egypt and possibly other allies – with the horrifying prospect of Islamism replacing reliable friends – the president was on view partying with the IN crowd.

The skepticism beyond the Beltway about whether Washington is just one big Love-In certainly gets fed by the sight – as conveyed by the press pool report – of reporters like ABC’s Jake Tapper, NBC’s Chuck Todd, National Journal’s Major Garrett, and John Harwood of CNBC and the New York Times emerging from a bash with the president that was held to toast his chief political fixer and leading spinmeister.

I understand why reporters would do this – other than the admittedly pathetic notion that, gosh, it’s fun to party with the president of the United States! It is pretty good for building sources and getting inside dope. But man, it ain’t easy smacking the White House with tough stories all the time if you’re getting invited to their exclusive parties, now is it?

Also on hand were Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, and Energy Secretary Steven Chu. The party was at the Washington residence of Linda Douglass, the former hard-hitting ABC reporter who dropped out of journalism to spin the health care bill out of the White House. She’s now a VP at Atlantic Media.

So we have an official with a journalism outfit – Atlantic Media – HOSTING a party for the president and his consigliere.

Mrs. Obama stayed home. Good for her. Maybe she was monitoring the situation in Egypt.

Obama Bids Bye Bye to Axe

Obama flies out of the White House tonight to a farewell party for departing senior adviser David Axelrod. Mrs. Obama passed on it. Axelrood will serve as an outside adviser to the reelection campaign. From the pool report: Motorcade is rolling at 8:27 p.m. en route to Linda Douglass’ house (spokeswoman for the White House… Continue Reading

White House Won’t Discose Donors to Axelrod Charity

Gawker reports that David Axelrod, President Obama’s senior political adviser, is refusing to divulge donors to his wife’s epilepsy charity. The Sunshine Administration won’t tell Gawker who contributed to the charity, donations to which soared after Axelrod’s boss became president, according to the website. And lest anyone wonder whether wealthy donors would really view an… Continue Reading

Axelrod Leaving Sooner Than Expected

Senior White House adviser David Axelrod, who had been expected to leave in the spring, will now return to Chicago in January or February, according to POLITICO. His replacement, former Obama campaign chief David Plouffe, is arriving at the White House months ahead of schedule, in January. The reason being given is that Axelrod needs… Continue Reading