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Is Axelrod A P.r. Liability?

If Alex Conant can help it, yes, as this piece the former RNC press secretary wrote for Politico makes clear. But the weird thing about Conant's article attacking David Axelrod is its strained use of the passive voice. To wit:

Axelrod is now a pillar for Barack Obama, but he will likely become a lightning rod for public concern.

The public is naturally leery of Machiavellian advisers inside the White House, yet that’s exactly Axelrod’s function.


Axelrod is a ripe target for anyone who wants to raise public concerns about his influence. 


[G]iven his unequaled influence over Obama and the public’s intuitive unease with such Machiavellian relationships, it should be only a matter of time before he is a public-relations liability for the White House.

I suppose the conventions for this sort of piece necessitate the use of the passive voice, but they're dumb conventions. Why can't Conant just come out and explicitly say what he wants to say--that the GOP should focus their political attacks on Axelrod, rather than Rahm Emanuel--rather than say that, at some point, the public will come to view him as such. As if the public will come to that view on its own, without any help from a consistent GOP message?

Also, isn't Conant's repeated use of the adjective "Machiavellian" a bit off? Perhaps he's trying to harken back to John DiIullio's description of Karl Rove and other Bush advisers as "Mayberry Machiavellis," but I don't think I understand what "Machiavellian relationships" Conant's referring to. Axelrod's with Obama? Axelrod's with Emanuel? Axelrod's with the public? All three? 

One last thing. Conant hits Axelrod for having major influence behind the scenes and for assuming such a high-profile role on the public stage. But isn't that a good thing, just in terms of transparency in government. If Axelrod is as big a player in the Obama administration as Conant says he is (and I think Conant's right about that), then wouldn't the public be reassured, in a way, that he subjects himself to on-came and on-the-record questions from reporters? One of the things that was so sinister about Rove was this Oz-like image he created for himself. Axelrod, by contrast, seems willing to give reporters a (admittedly blinkered) glimpse of what's going on behind the curtain.

--Jason Zengerle