Saturday, October 31, 2009

NPR's Interview With David Axelrod Oct. 31

David Axelrod talks troops, H1N1, Chicago Cubs, and DNC promising access to White House:

SCOTT SIMON: On Friday, the president talked about his frustration that H1N1 vaccine hasn't gotten out to more Americans. In August, the Centers for Disease Control said that a 120 million doses would be available. They later scaled that back to 45 million. We're speaking today, on the last day of October, 25 million doses reportedly are ready. Did the government overpromise?

DAVID AXELROD: Well, I think the manufacturers over-promised, and what was reported was the representations that were made to us. The fact is that this is a problem that's abating every day. And yes, we thought we would have 40,000 now, we have 26 —

SS: — Forty million —

DA: — I'm sorry, 40 million. Now we have 26 million. We believe that that is improving on a daily basis, and we're going to have an ample supply in very short order. So yes, we probably did overpromise and we overpromised on the basis of what was represented to us.

SS: Does it give you any sensation about, is it harder to get things accomplished from, this place than maybe you thought it was during the campaign?

DA: Well, I don't know that I had an expectation about how hard or easy it would be to get things done. The fact is that in terms of the H1N1 virus, we've mobilized pretty rapidly, and I think effectively, starting the spring, I was in [with] the president after the first briefing and there was a time, frankly, when people were suggesting that maybe we were overreacting. But he set the wheels in motion and I think that that will have averted an even larger public health crisis. On the vaccine, by the way, Scott, I should mention that the other important element to this is Tamiflu to deal with the flu once it occurs. And there [are] ample supplies of those. So those who are affected ought to be able to get those treatments, and we're particularly interested in the children.
DNC's White House access promises:
DA: You know, Scott, let me say a few things. First of all, there was one offering, or one brochure, or one communication from the Democratic National Committee, in the beginning of the year and they had a line in there about access to senior policy makers. No one was more furious about that, when he learned about that, than the president himself. And he learned about it from a press clipping. And he's made it very clear to everyone that that's unacceptable to him. I would say that there's never been an administration that's been more assiduous than ours. For the first time ever, anyone who comes into the White House is now a matter of public record. You can see who comes into the White House; you can see who has visited. Part of this reporting is based on our own disclosures. No administration has been tougher on lobbying and ethics. We have strict rules against lobbyists participating in government. People who have been active in lobbying in recent years; strict rules about whether you can lobby the administration after you leave, after you leave government. In many ways, we've revolutionized the ethics regimen here in this building, and they'll never be the same again. So I think, yes, you're right, you can't fully eliminate politics from the process. But I think in terms of reform, we've set a very high standard, and one that this town hasn't seen before.

SS: But to circle back a bit: The president was furious when he read about this?

DA: Yeah, this is not something he embraces. He doesn't want his advisers being offered as part of a fundraising appeal and that was made clear. It was done once. It was done early in the year, it wasn't repeated. So someone else obviously thought it was inappropriate. But when he heard about it, which was just when it was reported, he was very unhappy.