Based on recent polls, Democrat strategist David Axelrod believes Joe Biden would be “wise” to drop out of the 2024 presidential race. Axelrod comes billed as a “former Obama advisor,” but that sells him short. The New York Times hailed him as “Obama’s narrator,” and he signed off on his client’s every word.
In 2015 Axelrod authored Believer: My Forty Years in Politics. “Authenticity is an indispensable requirement for any successful candidate, but particularly for a president,” Axelrod explained. “Biography is foundational.” The believer “felt more comfortable, and proficient at, telling stories” than running ads.
Axelrod describes Obama as a great writer with a novelist’s eye. Trouble is, Obama had no record of publication. Obama’s Weatherman pal Bill Ayers may have lent a hand, but David Axelrod shapes up as the principal author of Dreams from My Father. In parts, the narrative bears striking similarities to I Dreamed of Africa and African Nights by Italian writer Kuki Gallmann. A section in the early going recalls Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, and in many places the fakery leaps from the pages.
As David Garrow revealed in Rising Star: the Making of Barack Obama, the Dreams book is not an autobiography or memoir but “without question” a novel, and the author composite character in the story. As Garrow recently told David Samuels that Obama “wants people to believe his story,” and was infuriated when Garrow called out his book as fiction.
True to form, Axelrod’s mark is all over Obama’s A Promised Land, in the same elephantine, hagiographical style. The true believer now wants Joe Biden to pack it in, which invites consideration of the alternatives.
Back in 2008, Christopher Hitchens said of Michelle Obama’s college thesis that “to describe it as hard to read would be a mistake; the thesis cannot be ‘read’ at all, in the strict sense of the verb. This is because it wasn’t written in any known language.” Ten years later, after two terms of her husband, Michelle’s Becoming duly arrives. Readers meet David Axelrod, who would “lead the messaging and media for Barack.”
Last November, Michelle came out with The Light We Carry, and as Joel Gilbert explains in Michelle Obama 2024, the narrative departs from her reality in substantial ways. In the style of her husband, with Dreams from My Father and The Audacity of Hope, Michelle now has two books in her corner.
In all likelihood, David Axelrod is still “Obama’s narrator,” and the believer’s suggestion that Joe Biden step down makes perfect sense. If the Delaware Democrat rejects Axelrod’s advice, he has a way to fight back that people might not know. That is a subject for a future post.