The audacity of phoniness

Thomas Lifson
A disturbing pattern of double lives emerges in the Barack Obama camp. He tells us we must transcend race, yet he takes his daughters to hear the rants of Pastor Jeremiah Wright and repeatedly honors the preacher in public. He tells us to believe in the change he offers, but contradicts himself  about knowing about those rants.

Now it turns out that his top adviser, David Axelrod, often credited with masterminding  Barack Obama's campaign strategy has a double life, too.

Thanks to the excellent reporting of Howard Wolinsky of Business Week, we know that the left wing campaign consultant by day also by night works for big corporations, creating phony front groups to pose as community groups who just happen to agree with his clients on controversial public issues.

By day, Axelrod is a partner in AKP&D Message & Media consultancy, which handles the Obama campaign, and has represented other liberal candidates. By night, operating from the same loft space, with the same partners and management, is another firm, ASK Public Strategies, which discreetly acts on behalf of clients like AT&T, Cablevision, and the big Chicago Utility, ComEd. Wolinksy notes:

ASK's predilection for operating in the shadows shows up in its work. On behalf of ComEd and Comcast, the firm helped set up front organizations that were listed as sponsors of public-issue ads. Industry insiders call such practices "Astroturfing," a reference to manufacturing grassroots support.

An isolated incident? Candidate Obama, after all, said that if Pastor Wright repeated his racially hateful incident, it would be more serious. Wolinsky writes:

One TV commercial, penned by ASK, warned of a ComEd bankruptcy and blackouts without a rate hike: "A few years ago, California politicians seized control of electric rates. They held rates down, but the true cost of energy kept rising. Soon the electric company went bust; the lights went out. Consumers had to pay for the mess. Now, some people in Illinois are playing the same game." CORE, which describes itself on its Web site as "a coalition of individuals, businesses and organizations," was identified as the ad's sponsor. After a complaint was filed with state regulators, ComEd acknowledged that it had bankrolled the entire $15 million effort.

Now I have nothing against public relations firms which act on behalf of corporate clients. Axelrod making big bucks for his sneaky "Astroturf" phony grass roots organizations does make me queasy, though. It may not fit the legal definition of fraud (as a key Democrat strategist Axelrod has to know boatloads of lawyers), but it does mean that Axelrod is quite comfortable misleading the general public. And Barack Obama is evidently quite comfortable around people who think the gullible public is just waiting to be tricked into following their advice.

Axelrod's double life nicely complements Obama's double life as idealistic purveyor of hope by day, and Chicago machine pol/supporter of a racial demagogue by night.

Hat tip: Ed Lasky
A disturbing pattern of double lives emerges in the Barack Obama camp. He tells us we must transcend race, yet he takes his daughters to hear the rants of Pastor Jeremiah Wright and repeatedly honors the preacher in public. He tells us to believe in the change he offers, but contradicts himself  about knowing about those rants.

Now it turns out that his top adviser, David Axelrod, often credited with masterminding  Barack Obama's campaign strategy has a double life, too.

Thanks to the excellent reporting of Howard Wolinsky of Business Week, we know that the left wing campaign consultant by day also by night works for big corporations, creating phony front groups to pose as community groups who just happen to agree with his clients on controversial public issues.

By day, Axelrod is a partner in AKP&D Message & Media consultancy, which handles the Obama campaign, and has represented other liberal candidates. By night, operating from the same loft space, with the same partners and management, is another firm, ASK Public Strategies, which discreetly acts on behalf of clients like AT&T, Cablevision, and the big Chicago Utility, ComEd. Wolinksy notes:

ASK's predilection for operating in the shadows shows up in its work. On behalf of ComEd and Comcast, the firm helped set up front organizations that were listed as sponsors of public-issue ads. Industry insiders call such practices "Astroturfing," a reference to manufacturing grassroots support.

An isolated incident? Candidate Obama, after all, said that if Pastor Wright repeated his racially hateful incident, it would be more serious. Wolinsky writes:

One TV commercial, penned by ASK, warned of a ComEd bankruptcy and blackouts without a rate hike: "A few years ago, California politicians seized control of electric rates. They held rates down, but the true cost of energy kept rising. Soon the electric company went bust; the lights went out. Consumers had to pay for the mess. Now, some people in Illinois are playing the same game." CORE, which describes itself on its Web site as "a coalition of individuals, businesses and organizations," was identified as the ad's sponsor. After a complaint was filed with state regulators, ComEd acknowledged that it had bankrolled the entire $15 million effort.

Now I have nothing against public relations firms which act on behalf of corporate clients. Axelrod making big bucks for his sneaky "Astroturf" phony grass roots organizations does make me queasy, though. It may not fit the legal definition of fraud (as a key Democrat strategist Axelrod has to know boatloads of lawyers), but it does mean that Axelrod is quite comfortable misleading the general public. And Barack Obama is evidently quite comfortable around people who think the gullible public is just waiting to be tricked into following their advice.

Axelrod's double life nicely complements Obama's double life as idealistic purveyor of hope by day, and Chicago machine pol/supporter of a racial demagogue by night.

Hat tip: Ed Lasky