"David is the first among all equals" - Rep. Rahm Emanuel, Chairman of the Democratic Caucus
David Axelrod is Barack Obama's chief strategist. He is a journalist and an ad man, and it shows with Obama's campaign. From the logo (see above) to the slogan Change you can believe in, to the idea of staging the acceptance speech in a 80,000-seater stadium, Axelrod has shown a consistent talent for joining his candidate with the elements of selling ideas to people and doing things different enough to get a lot of press attention.
He differs from others in that he is interested in the authentic candidate, not changing the candidate to fit a model of what is perceived the voters want - as in Gore being told to shake off that stiffness and become the man of the people. A big part of his job is emphasis of one thing over the other - what to stress to the voters, and what not to say too. Obama was a community organizer for a few formative years and this has been used by Axelrod as the pivot of Obama's candidacy - more so than, say, Obama being the president of the Harvard Law Review (the first Black president) which there is no doubt pushed him into the echelons of power more than sweeping the floors and putting out the chairs for two years on Chicago's South Side.
In the formidable acceptance speech [http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=kv8eiDvrHJ4] Obama and his writers, with Axelrod in full agreement, coupled his story to the story of the folks he had met on the road (Obama's been on the road now for 20 months.) It sound like an easy thing to do, but its all in the writing, and political speeches fall or fly by the subtlest aspect. In one move, he sketched out his biography and that of his family, and he spoke up for those across the US who have been hit hard by the Bush administration. He also adjoined the people with the values set he knew a lot of the public were waiting to hear he held. Here is an extract:
"Because, in the faces of those young veterans who come back from Iraq and Afghanistan, I see my grandfather, who signed up after Pearl Harbor, marched in Patton's army, and was rewarded by a grateful nation with the chance to go to college on the G.I. Bill.
In the face of that young student, who sleeps just three hours before working the night shift, I think about my mom, who raised my sister and me on her own while she worked and earned her degree, who once turned to food stamps, but was still able to send us to the best schools in the country with the help of student loans and scholarships.
When I listen to another worker tell me that his factory has shut down, I remember all those men and women on the South Side of Chicago who I stood by and fought for two decades ago after the local steel plant closed.
And when I hear a woman talk about the difficulties of starting her own business or making her way in the world, I think about my grandmother, who worked her way up from the secretarial pool to middle management, despite years of being passed over for promotions because she was a woman.
She's the one who taught me about hard work. She's the one who put off buying a new car or a new dress for herself so that I could have a better life. She poured everything she had into me. And although she can no longer travel, I know that she's watching tonight and that tonight is her night, as well.
Now, I don't know what kind of lives John McCain thinks that celebrities lead, but this has been mine.
These are my heroes; theirs are the stories that shaped my life. And it is on behalf of them that I intend to win this election and keep our promise alive as president of the United States."