WASHINGTON – White House senior adviser David Axelrod rebuffed the growing view among pundits that President Barack Obama is repositioning himself as a centrist this year, declaring that he is and always has been a “progressive” at heart.
“I mean, there’s no doubt he is progressive in his outlook and that’s what he believes in,” Axelrod, a close and longtime confidant of Obama, told a small group of liberal reporters and bloggers Wednesday, according to the Washington Post‘s Greg Sargent.
“But he has never been particularly dogmatic… His fundamental view is you don’t have to agree on everything, or even most things, to work together on some things. And so there was no sort of grand repositioning.”
Misgivings about Obama among liberal activists, combined with the notion spread by Beltway pundits that the president was “triangulating” against his base, sparked off high-profile discussions in the media about whether the president was tilting to the right after Republicans retook the House of Representatives in the November midterms.
Having to cut deals with a doggedly adversarial GOP, observers speculated, would compel Obama to redefine himself and his ideological views in between the two major parties.
This was news to Axelrod, who said the Washington media class was false imputing President Bill Clinton’s centrist tilt to Obama, arguing that this president’s views had not and would not change.
“I guarantee you, as God is my witness, we have not had a repositioning discussion here,” Axelrod said. “We have not talked about, ‘let’s move three degrees to the right.’ That’s not the way we view this.”
The New York Times reported last month that Obama so disliked the viewpoint that he banned the use of the word “triangulation” in the White House.
Progressive distrust of Obama largely revolved around his ostensible lack of willingness to fight hard against conservatives on key initiatives, but many also criticized his stances on war, civil liberties and austerity measures during high unemployment.