It's rare to hear an MSM figure flatly suggest that a presidential campaign lied, but Joe Scarborough broke out the the l-word today in wondering whether chief Obama strategist David Axelrod did just that when he emphatically denied, on yesterday's show, that there is a concerted "makeover" of Michelle Obama in the works.
View video here.
An article in yesterday's New York Times, After Attacks, Michelle Obama Looks for a New Introduction, claimed that just such a makeover was planned:
Now her husband’s presidential campaign is giving her image a subtle makeover, with a new speech in the works to emphasize her humble roots and a tough new chief of staff. On Wednesday, Mrs. Obama will do a guest turn on “The View,” the daytime talk show on ABC, with an eye toward softening her reputation.When Axelrod appeared on Morning Joe yesterday at 7:40 AM EDT, Scarborough quizzed him about the matter [dialogue as per closed-caption transcript]. The senior Obama aide's denial of a makeover plan couldn't have been more categorical:
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Okay. Let's talk about Michelle Obama. Big spread in the New York Times. Why does she need an image makeover?But when Mrs. Obama went on yesterday's View and—sure enough—emphasized her humble roots just as the Times had foretold, Scarborough smelled a rat, and raised the issue this morning. Even the usually controversy-averse Willie Geist expressed skepticism about Axelrod's denial.
DAVID AXELROD: I saw that line. I don't know exactly what they're talking about. I don't think that she does. I think that Michelle -- I have talked to you about this before. She's one of the finest people I've ever known. She's the great American story. Her father was a laborer who worked and saved she could go to college. She worked her way up and got to Princeton and Harvard law and came back and worked in the community [Ed.: at over $300,000/year]. She's just a lovely person. Great mom.
SCARBOROUGH: That's what the times said you were going say. You were going to emphasize her humble upbringing and she worked so hard to get where she's gotten but you say --
AXELROD: That's not even news. We've been talking about that from the beginning.
SCARBOROUGH: I'm just saying that's what the Times said you would focus on going forward. My question is whether the story is correct or not.
AXELROD: I absolutely reject the notion of any kind of makeover. Absolutely not. I don't know where they got that from. None necessary.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Well, that's why we have you on, David Axelrod. Great to know. Thanks for being with us.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: You know, Pat, it's interesting, yesterday Axelrod, David Axelrod, came on this show, and he denied any knowledge of a Michelle Obama makeover, and yet he delivered the talking points that the New York Times said the campaign is going to be delivering. We played a clip earlier this morning of Michelle Obama delivering [on The View] the talking points they said she was going to be delivering.
Is there a plan, or is there not a plan? Did David Axelrod lie to us yesterday?
PAT BUCHANAN: My guess is Joe they realize there's a problem here. That's why they're making changes.. . . .
JOE SCARBOROUGH: You know, Willie, yesterday we were talking about the "wife wars," about Michelle Obama, and we had David Axelrod on denying that this makeover was taking place. But as you know, yesterday, as we were all scurrying around Washington [for events in memory of Tim Russert], and you had put on your robe, eaten your bon-bons, slippers, watching The View, Michelle Obama did exactly what the New York Times said she was going to do, and what Axelrod did, and that is, talk about her upbringing. That she's a regular person, that she's not any left-wing radical.Strong words from the normally mild-mannered Geist.
WILLIE GEIST: Yeah, clearly there's something at work here. There's some sort of plan, regardless of what David Axelrod wants us to believe.