July 11th, 2010
10:48 AM ET
10 years ago

Axelrod responds to criticism from the WH's left flank

Obama senior adviser David Axelrod spoke Sunday about November's midterm elections and touched on discontent among liberals, the president's relationship with Capitol Hill Republicans, and the president's standing with independent voters.

Obama senior adviser David Axelrod spoke Sunday about November's midterm elections and touched on discontent among liberals, the president's relationship with Capitol Hill Republicans, and the president's standing with independent voters.

Washington (CNN) - With less than four months until this year's midterm Election Day, the Obama administration is defending its record in response to criticism from liberals and progressives who are increasingly saying the president has not been aggressive enough in pursuing their preferred agenda.

"My admonition would be: Don't make the perfect the enemy of the good," Obama senior adviser David Axelrod said Sunday on CNN's State of the Union in an effort to speak directly to the president's liberal critics. "We've achieved more in these two years - in terms of advancing a solid progressive agenda for this country that will help working families and make this a better, more balanced economy - than anyone has done, you know, in our generation."

As evidence of Obama's movement on liberals' preferred agenda items, Axelrod mentioned comprehensive reform to the nation's health care system that would extend coverage to more of the uninsured and improve care for those with insurance.

"We've been talking about that for a hundred years," Axelrod told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley. "Barack Obama got it done," he said. "We've been talking about financial reform for a long time. We've got the deepest reform since the Great Depression."

The senior Obama aide also mentioned the administration's move to boost fuel efficiency standards and the president's desire to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays and lesbians serving in the U.S. military. "That policy is going to be changed," declared Axelrod.

Axelrod continued, "And I can go through a long list of things that have languished for years and decades and generations that this president got done in the midst of a very difficult time."

While he defended the president's record to liberals, Axelrod also sought to fault Republicans for a lack of cooperation with Obama, who campaigned on the idea of changing the tone in Washington.

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Filed under: 2010 • David Axelrod • Popular Posts • State of the Union
soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. Rick McDaniel

    Pure BS. Obama admin has done nothing for the people.........quite the contrary, he is making living much more expensive for those with limited incomes.

    The wars continue, with no end in sight in either theatre, and a General claiming we will be there another decade.

    There are no jobs for the millions of unemployed, and by Biden's own statement, no hopes of getting any.

    Axlerod.....is a fool. You cannot talk away the realities. Obama is nothing but a "hollywood" show off, who has done nothing of benefit to the ordinary man, at all.

    July 11, 2010 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  2. ib

    Axelrod; I'll give you credit you have done more to destroy the American way of life than anyone before you and the far left thinks you aren't doing enough. They won't be happy until this country is a shadow of it's former self; no freedoms at all and gov. has total controll of our life.

    July 11, 2010 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  3. Glenn Koons

    The fact that Axel, a liberal flack has to deal with other inane progressive flackers is a joy to me. The perfect and good? LOL This Admin. has done more evil to America than even Carter or Wilson, both Dems btw. And when Axel derides Sen . MM of Kentucky, one's admiration for Mitch goes sky high. About time that Pubs did not give into this socialist pacifist Admin. and the Man-Child Messiah in the WH or any of the Dem donkeys in Congress. Nov . is just about 100 + days away from sweeping some of these Quislings from office.

    July 11, 2010 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  4. annie s

    The Obama Administration has been successful in moving this country forward, but could have done a much more robust job. The problem I see is the insistence on "bipartisan" support of every important issue. There IS no support from Republicans, and Obama's attempts to garner some has given birth to watered down legislation that falls short of 100% effectiveness.

    July 11, 2010 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  5. John from Brooklyn

    Sadly, Axelrod mistakes the "good" for the "bad". I WISH we could aspire to the perfect when, in fact, under the Obama administration, doesn't even aspire to even good progressive policy agendas.

    July 11, 2010 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  6. Annie, Atlanta

    "Don't make the perfect the enemy of the good." In other words, take this watered down legislation and be happy with it, even though it really helps big business a lot more than it helps the "small people."

    We couldn't possibly have a Medicare buy in. The insurance companies didn't want that, and they lobbied hard, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, to ensure it. Just like the financial industry lobby has been doing during financial reform debate.

    And let's water it down even more to get the cooperation of Republicans. It would be nice, but it's not going to happen. They'd rather see us destroyed than to see their corporate masters harmed in any way. Don't believe me, see Joe Barton's apology to BP for an agreement BP entered into of their own free will.

    Come on Axelrod. The GOP treats their supporters like idiots. I expected more from the Dems. We need a new party that actually puts citizens over corporations, or we won't survive. And I'm not talking Tea Party. They're the right wing lunatic fringe, taking a name out of our patriotic history just to bs us. Look how they fought for the rights of insurance companies to put a price on health care, a high one.

    July 11, 2010 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  7. Illinoistom

    Axelrod is right. Obama has a long list of achievements for the left. He bailed out public sector employees with the stimulus bill while telling us it would be "timely, targeted, and temporary." He gave GM to the UAW. His health care bill will redistribute hundreds of billions in wealth in the next decade. He is suing Arizona for passing a law that copies Federal law. He has focused "like a laser beam on jobs." He is ignoring those pesky voter laws that purge ineligible voters from the rolls. He is using taxpayer money to prop up every energy technology that isn't economically viable on it's own merits. He begins every speech with the war cry "Bush did it!" And still the left wants more...

    July 11, 2010 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  8. Moshe

    "...that will help working families and make this a better, more balanced economy..."

    Well for one, I will give Obama credit for this "accomplishment."

    We will ALL be living in "balanced" poverty soon. Instead of Hooverville's we will soon have Obamaville's full of the poor and x-middle class.

    Well done! Yes you can destroy the American economy!

    July 11, 2010 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  9. keep the change

    Lets face it the one-two punch of Failure known as Bush-Obama has brought this country literally to its knees.

    Obama who got elected because he spouted off "change" has proven time and time again he is just more of the same

    Supported Bush Style bailouts "welfare for the rich" Which was nothing more than a Ponzi Scam.

    Supports expanded war in the middle east

    Supports Patriot Act shredding of our constution.

    Democrats and Republicans prove time and time again they are about preserving the status-quo not about helping this country.

    That is why i became libertarian Our two party system is outdated.
    We ill need two parties who represent the people who are raping and robbing us blind.

    July 11, 2010 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  10. Sarah -- nyc

    Just once I would like to see an idea from the repugs on how to actually address the problems....of course, 'trickle-down' which is the root of the problem does not qualify as a workable solution. The hate displayed by the right seems to be the only thing they have to offer.

    July 11, 2010 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  11. Gold Key

    Gee, let's ignore the fact that under Obama unemployment is now lower at this point than during the Reagan recession; it's headed down, while under Reagan it was headed up for another year; under Reagan it went over ten percent and stayed there till August of his third year in office; and Reagan had to TRIPLE the National Debt to do it, which Obama won't even come close to.
    And Obama LOWERED your taxes, and people with limited incomes finally have a chance to enjoy something like health care, the way EVERY OTHER CIVILIZED COUNTRY IN THE WORLD does, and Obama at least partially put the leash back on the greed-driven morons on Wall Street who tried to derail the economy in favor of one more good quarter of profits.

    Other than that, Rick McDaniel is 100% correct.

    What a maroon.

    July 11, 2010 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  12. chris

    It's funny hearing Conservatives keep complaing that Obama is some Liberal extremist, when actual Liberals say that he's not being anyway near as progressive as they want him to be.

    The truth is that Obama is very much a centrist. I'm a centrist too, and I wish there were more of us out there. Unfortunately, in this heavily-polarized political climate, we are few and far between.

    The conservatives have moved so far to the extreme right that they now consider anyone who isn't a hardcore neo-con to be a flaming hippie Socialist.

    July 11, 2010 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  13. JJ in NY

    Does anyone really believe that Axelrod is trying to selling anything other than snake oil ???

    July 11, 2010 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  14. Jeen

    Obama is doing exactly what he campaigned on. America voted for Oabama overwhelmigly to fullfil progressive agenda and that's exactly what he's doing. When faced with Republican stone walling on every issue, he took the pragmatic approach of getting something rather than nothing. If only we had a Republican with soul left in the congress, he might have got more support. Thanks to his bold actins, the coun try is out of recession and on the path for growth. The part of NO will have to pay for this, come November while Democrats can hold their head high and campaign on what they have achieved by pulling the country from the brink of finalcial collapse.

    July 11, 2010 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  15. No we won't

    It appears that all of those who stood around chanting " Yes we can" are now saying,,, " No you won't " to thier chosen messiah.

    The wolf has revealed his true identity now that he has lost his sheeps clothing,,, and many of the little lambs who followed adored his golden words of wisdom are starting to see those words were just that. Words,,, with little action towards thier main agenda.

    Here is Obamas problem, he KNOWS the far left can never get him re-elected alone. He NEEDS the middle and even some of the right votes to stay in office. So he is playing the politcal game,,,, not doing what is BEST for this country. But rather, what he has to do to gain votes. Look at the lawsuit against AZ. That is nothing more than his and Holders way of gathering votes from the left who are disgruntled with his lack of pursuit of what they want.

    July 11, 2010 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  16. Discernment


    In addition to President Obama's historic accomplishments thus far, more could be done if the Democrats band together as strong as the Republicans. The President can only do but so much. The Democrats need to get a backbone and grow a pair.

    The Democrats have a 59-41 lead in the Senate, and a greater majority in the House. Yet, this 'namby-pamby' Democratic-led Legislature continues to coward when the Republicans roar (upon the crack of the whip from Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, and Faux News).

    July 11, 2010 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  17. Mary

    are you kidding me.? We are losing millions on he and Pelosis flights across the country. It cost American taXpayers millions for Obama to campaign for Reid and other Dems. an unnecessary remodel of the white house costing us 200+k. foolish bailouts and kowtowing to BP. All we need to do to help the economy is get rid of these money wasters! Can't blame Bush for these failures fools!

    July 11, 2010 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  18. Mike, formerly from Syracuse

    Exactly how is it a 'better, more balanced economy'? Obama created a bunch of temporary stimulus jobs which will disappear when the money is spent. He's done nothing to fix Fannie and Freddie Mac, no doubt blocked by Barney Frank from any real reform. Cash for Clunkers was a clunker that got more foreign cars sold than American cars. He traded the European missile defense shield away at the very time Iran is getting nukes and has the missiles to reach Europe. For what? Watered down sanctions of Iran that mean nothing. North Korea? Even the talk isn't tough anymore. Forget taking any action. But hey, he did get the Nobel Peace Prize for not being George Bush.

    July 11, 2010 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  19. mother and sister of soldiers

    I am still trying to understand how Obama has moved this country forward. If you feel moving forward is following in the footsteps of Germany, France and England, you better take a closer look at the state of their economy and the effects upon their citizens. Look at the harsh steps France and England have recently initiated because their programs have been unsustainable and they have hit a debt wall they can no longer climb. This is the direction we are going. Is it for the better, I think not. The republicans want a "pay as your go" because they are businessmen and not the lawyers of the democratic party. All this debt will not help the middle or lower income people. Cost of goods will rise due to the union demands and government health care/taxes on businesses. Do you honestly think more jobs can be created when emploers are now required to cover medical insurance for children to age 26? The expense to the company is offset in salaries. Good luck if you think this "change" as benefited this country.

    July 11, 2010 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  20. vic

    Be practical

    Past three months two video l library close their business in my neighborhood because of fast growth technology

    Now time for us to stop blaming the government move to green technology it will crate more jobs

    July 11, 2010 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  21. Jane

    This guy is a tool and that's all there is too it. I cannot wait for them all to be out of a job in 4 years. People thought they were voting for Vince Lombardi and they got Bart Simpson.

    July 11, 2010 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  22. Nick S

    Give me a break. One thing I will say for Obama he is the master of sophistry and press manipulation. These types of stories are an old trick to make him appear more centrist. There was no one in the US government more left than Obama before he was president, nor now that he is president. Fact.

    July 11, 2010 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  23. Discernment


    The Democratic-led Congress showed no spine during the historic Democratic Primaries of 2008, and these same 'namby-pamby' Democratic wimps are the reason more cannot be done today.

    In spite of President Obama's historic accomplishment in just 1.5 years in office, a lot more could be done if the Democrats in Congress got a backbone and man-up.

    It is time the Democrats stop worrying about their jobs and do something about the hemorrhaging of good paying jobs to overseas markets for the past 10-years.

    July 11, 2010 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  24. chatmandu002

    The Obama administration has done so much good for the country? Is 17-20% under-employment good? Is $3+ Trillion dollar debt good? Has sucking up to muslims stopped the IEDs and killings? Has not sealing our borders stopped illegal immigration? Has passing bills and laws in secret and that no one has read good? Has the "Change" he promised turned out to be more of the same only on steroids? How is that social justice thing working out for ya? Have you gotten enough entitlements yet?

    July 11, 2010 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  25. John Q.

    Most of the country doesn't necessarily think the "progressive agenda" is good, and he will continue to slide in popularity across the board until he stops representing a minority of the populace. He is not listening to the majority of the American people, quit blaming the Republicans, most people aren't of that party anyway and it's getting old. The President serves the people, not the other way 'round.

    July 11, 2010 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
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