David Axelrod: Orrin Hatch's simple act of kindness

In March 2010, during my second year as senior adviser to President Barack Obama, I was the subject of a snarky newsp...

Posted: Jan 3, 2018 11:40 AM
Updated: Jan 3, 2018 11:40 AM

In March 2010, during my second year as senior adviser to President Barack Obama, I was the subject of a snarky newspaper profile, portraying me as tired and defeated in the midst of the final push for health care reform.

I was not the first or last presidential aide to find himself in such crosshairs and, as a highly visible member of the administration, I knew such stories were to be expected.

Still, I was working night and day to advance the President's agenda, so it was particularly irritating to see quotes from well-meaning friends and even family members lending credence to the story by sharing their concerns about my stamina.

I was traveling the day the piece hit when an unexpected call lit up my cellphone just as I was settling into my seat for a flight back to Washington. It was from Sen. Orrin Hatch. "I saw that story in the paper this morning," he said, "and I just wanted to call and say, don't let the bastards get you down."

I had known Hatch a little through my wife, Susan, and her work as founder of CURE, an organization she helped create to fight for more medical research into epilepsy. Hatch was in the audience when Susan spoke at an event in Salt Lake City about the toll epilepsy had exacted on our daughter, Lauren. Moved by the story, the senator invited Susan to visit with him in Washington and became a great supporter of epilepsy research.

Though solidly conservative, Hatch had famously found common cause with Sen. Edward M. Kennedy on children's health care and other issues. I was in the audience when he had spoken movingly about those collaborations at Kennedy's memorial service in 2009.

By the time of Hatch's call to me, however, partisanship had boiled over, which made his simple act of kindness all the more meaningful.

After four decades in Washington, Hatch was accustomed to the cruel rituals of Washington. He had seen a parade of presidential advisers held up to intense and sometimes very personal criticism when administrations appeared to be stumbling, as all administrations do. As he cheerfully imparted with his call, this is one of the rites of passage of public service. They come and go.

Hatch, 83, who Tuesday announced plans to retire at the end of his current term, has himself been the target of some harsh criticism, most recently over his fulsome praise for President Donald Trump at the White House ceremony before Christmas marking the passage of the tax bill. (Wherever you stand on the 45th president or the tax bill, it seemed more than a little hyperbolic to suggest, as Hatch appeared to, that Trump is on track to eclipse Washington or Lincoln as our greatest president.)

That bit of fawning came amid Trump's own aggressive wooing of Hatch to run for re-election this year, an effort that seemed to ramp up instantly with news that Mitt Romney is waiting in the wings to succeed Hatch as senator from Utah.

Having chased out a number of Republican apostates, such as Bob Corker and Jeff Flake, Trump surely is less than eager to welcome one of his harshest critics to the Republican caucus in the Senate.

With Tuesday's announcement, Hatch yielded to the realities of age, poor poll numbers and, just maybe, a desire to leave on his own terms and not as a convenient tool of this President.

It also means the Senate will lose yet another of the dwindling corps of members who recall a time when bipartisanship was possible and simple acts of civility were not considered a sign of weakness or treachery.

Thanks for the call, Senator - and for your service to the country.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 947918

Reported Deaths: 15377
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1291181990
Lake635721103
Allen53899761
Hamilton44082449
St. Joseph42122590
Elkhart33803491
Vanderburgh30574449
Tippecanoe26915251
Johnson23727418
Hendricks22410342
Porter21832347
Clark17562231
Madison17492385
Vigo16302285
Monroe14545191
LaPorte14389239
Delaware14183222
Howard13971273
Kosciusko11498135
Hancock10935166
Warrick10737178
Bartholomew10635170
Floyd10514208
Wayne10077226
Grant9213204
Morgan8928160
Boone8463111
Dubois7791123
Dearborn769490
Henry7691133
Noble7466101
Marshall7409128
Cass7219118
Lawrence7026153
Shelby6647111
Jackson661386
Gibson6190107
Harrison609386
Huntington604495
Montgomery5853105
DeKalb581091
Knox5535104
Miami548888
Putnam543268
Clinton537465
Whitley529354
Steuben501768
Wabash488692
Jasper483861
Jefferson474492
Ripley457777
Adams446068
Daviess4231108
Scott409165
Clay394957
White393858
Greene393392
Wells389884
Decatur388797
Fayette378578
Posey362341
Jennings356056
Washington334747
LaGrange325175
Spencer321136
Fountain318455
Randolph317190
Sullivan309449
Owen287064
Starke282864
Fulton280454
Orange277859
Jay257038
Perry254152
Carroll245229
Franklin242838
Rush237030
Vermillion235050
Parke221420
Tipton212055
Pike211740
Blackford170534
Pulaski168551
Crawford147318
Newton145845
Benton143916
Brown135846
Martin130217
Switzerland126910
Warren115616
Union98511
Ohio80511
Unassigned0482

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1380370

Reported Deaths: 21820
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1534461574
Cuyahoga1354332341
Hamilton984041326
Montgomery677001161
Summit566391051
Lucas51349869
Butler47858663
Stark42048983
Lorain31922539
Warren30328338
Mahoning27315643
Clermont25897297
Lake24746422
Delaware22501147
Licking20701246
Fairfield20658223
Greene20527275
Trumbull20127516
Medina20006290
Clark18086332
Richland16602236
Portage16305231
Wood15869209
Allen14257261
Miami13963261
Muskingum12858155
Wayne12126244
Columbiana11896242
Tuscarawas11103271
Marion10865150
Pickaway10580129
Scioto10477127
Erie9822171
Ross9566177
Lawrence8886125
Hancock8567143
Ashtabula8423187
Geauga8226156
Belmont8221188
Jefferson7635175
Huron7507131
Union740751
Washington7334126
Athens705965
Sandusky6925135
Darke6853137
Knox6762122
Seneca6496137
Ashland6035115
Auglaize593188
Shelby5796104
Brown572972
Mercer563690
Defiance5538101
Crawford5530117
Madison549371
Highland548082
Fulton539583
Clinton532081
Logan516987
Preble5058111
Putnam4876107
Guernsey480664
Williams466482
Perry459054
Champaign452264
Ottawa441384
Jackson432963
Pike397045
Morrow393851
Coshocton386669
Fayette381753
Adams366875
Hardin363970
Gallia352858
Holmes3297111
Henry328869
Van Wert318871
Hocking308070
Wyandot284558
Carroll265452
Paulding245143
Meigs220242
Monroe191949
Noble172942
Morgan169429
Harrison160041
Vinton140619
Unassigned05
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