Ah man, Axe... why'd you have to lose the 'stache? You really rocked that shit.
Having served as the Chief Strategist for Barack Obama's two presidential campaigns and as Senior Advisor to the President during Obama's first term, one could say that David Axelrod knows his way around the world of politics. He also has a lot of connections to high-profile individuals. In The Axe Files, his recently launched podcast, Axelrod has already managed to arrange a lengthy interview with Mitt Romney, and to my own disbelief, the two of them appear to be pretty friendly with each other (if not friends).
Being able to bring in big names on a podcast like this comes at a cost. Compared to the nitty-gritty policy discussions found on, say, The Weeds, interviews with politicians who have a public image to maintain are bound to be a little superficial by comparison. Romney, for example, is clearly not going to say anything negative about the Mormon Church. This lead to a somewhat awkward and protracted exchange when Axelrod began to recount the more progressive side of George Romney. After Axelrod mentioned that the elder Romney had championed equality and civil rights in a way that was ahead of the church, Mitt Romney responded with what was essentially "nah, the Church was right all along as well." Well okay then!
Similarly, their discussion about how to approach the issue of inequality felt flat. Axelrod stated that the wealthy should be able to contribute more to help provide the middle and lower classes with additional tools and opportunities to advance in society while Romney spoke at length about the importance of creating a business-friendly environment to create additional jobs. They clearly disagreed with each other on the effectiveness of each approach, but neither person pushed the other very far with counterpoints or examples.
The best parts of this interview, unsurprisingly, came about from the non-political topics. It's evident that Romney cares deeply for his family, and his retelling of the moment where he and Ann found out that she had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis was moving. Axelrod and Romney are also acutely aware of the exhaustion that's inherent to modern presidential races, including the lifestyle of endless hopping from hotel to hotel while on the campaign trail. It just goes to show you that politicians are people, my friend. Okay yes, that joke was lazy and unfunny, but so is the title for this podcast, so it seems fitting.