David Axelrod has been among those dismissing Donald Trump's candidacy as a joke all these months—until now. In a New York Times op-ed, Axelrod writes that it's dawned on him that Trump's run is very much like Barack Obama's 2008 campaign in one vital respect. He sums it up thusly: "Open-seat presidential elections are shaped by perceptions of the style and personality of the outgoing incumbent," he writes. "Voters rarely seek the replica of what they have. They almost always seek the remedy, the candidate who has the personal qualities the public finds lacking in the departing executive." A decade ago, Obama's deliberate, cerebral approach proved to be just the right antidote to George W. Bush, writes Axelrod. But now those same qualities are viewed as "hesitancy," "weakness," and "appeasement."
So who better to play the role of this election's anti-incumbent than Trump? "Relentlessly edgy, confrontational and contemptuous of the niceties of governance and policy making, Mr. Trump is the perfect counterpoint to a president whose preternatural cool and deliberate nature drive his critics mad," Axelrod writes. What's interesting is that in 2006, then-Sen. Obama asked Axelrod to assess his chances if he were to run, and Axelrod laid out the broad strokes of this theory in a "bullish" analysis for the long-shot candidate. He just failed to apply it anew to Trump. "It's so obvious, I'm embarrassed I missed it," he notes. Click for the full column.