People often ask me what advice I would give the White House about various things. Today I was mulling over election results from New York and Nevada while thinking about that very question. What should the White House do now? One word came to mind: Panic.
— Democratic strategist James Carville
You panic when you’re behind or when you’re losing. Losing your cool because you lose one House seat is a serious overreaction.
And James Carville is notorious for overreacting. His nickname is the “Ragin’ Cajun” for a reason and it’s not because he’s so reasonable. That’s why he’s on CNN running his mouth instead of working for President Obama running his reelection campaign.
Carville seems to be forgetting how a Democratic president he worked for, Bill Clinton, was so marginalized by the hammering the Republicans laid on Clinton and his party in 1994 when Newt Gingrich and the Contract With America crowd took over the House. Not long after that bloodbath, a humiliated Clinton said in an interview, “I am relevant. The Constitution gives me relevance. A president, especially an activist president has relevance.”
I don’t recall Carville offering to fire himself then and neither does another Democratic strategist, Bob Shrum during a similar low point for Clinton.
Writing in The Week, Shrum observed, “So thus, the “geniuses” of 2008 become the scapegoats of 2011. Playing a hasty game of musical chairs would turn Obama’s ship of state into the Titanic. It’s a reflex, a gimmick — and it’s ahistorical. As Bill Clinton’s campaign chief in 1992, Carville didn’t panic — he certainly didn’t fire himself — in the early summer of that year, when Clinton was in last place, at 22 percent, in a three-way race with Ross Perot and the first George Bush.”
Shrum is dead on target with the incessant whining and full-blown panic of “the crybaby chorus” led by goofs Carville. For what reason should Obama take the advice of a cueball egotist and Clinton loyalist who once sneered, “If Hillary gave up one of her balls and gave it to Obama, he’d have two.”
With allies like this, does Obama need enemies?
What would running around like a chicken with its head cut off accomplished? There are people in the Obama Administration who don’t need to be there. Start with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and work the list, but turning over the team is what a second term is for. Firing staff en masse and chopping off aides at the ankles now won’t make the president look strong. It will only make Obama look like he’s running scared and nobody needs a scared president.
I’m with Carville in that I agree a Washington with Republicans in complete control would be a disaster in waiting. Especially, with these particular Republicans whom are extraordinarily conservative and extraordinarily inflexible.
Instead of dumping staffers for the sake of appeasing panicky libs, the president is wisely drawing vivid and unmistakable difference between himself and the GOP with both his jobs plan and now his “Buffet Bill” proposal. Neither of these efforts are likely to go far in the House or the tied-into-knots Senate, but it’s nevertheless important in the symbolism. Who could be opposed to putting Americans back to work and making millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share?
The 2011 extremist Republican Party, that’s who. Most Americans are focusing on getting a job or keeping the one they have. The last weeks of baseball and the start-up of football as well as the fall television season are all most interesting to them than a special election in New York to replace a disgraced congressman.
Is it time to be concerned? Certainly. The president’s poll numbers are bad and he’s losing support with key demographics he relied upon in 2008. The economy blows and there are no jobs being created. The political process is broken and there’s no signs of fixing it without radical measures. Rather than freaking out like Carville, the warning from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg that continued high unemployment could spark the sort of unrest and rioting seen in the Middle East, should be sending out alarm bells in Washington, but only the Democrats seem to hear them.
Obama would be smart to ignore Carville. Anyone who has Mary Matlin as a foot warmer is not to be trusted. The suggestion Obama needs to make a sharp turn to the Left is not going to get him reelected. I’m further to the Left than the president is, but as it was pointed out on The Reid Report blog, the supposed might of the Progressive Left is more theoretical than actual.
For all we know Carville talks in his sleep. I like the way how the anti-Obama “experts” who don’t have the President’s ear keep trying to whisper in it. If Obama wanted Carville’s advice, he’d call him, not the other way around.
Beware experts. They always tell you why it can’t be done until someone does it. Carville contributed nothing to the election of Barack Obama. He may be earnest, he may be sincere, but he isn’t contributing anything to Barack Obama’s reelection either. He needs to take a Xanax and lie down some place where there are no microphones nearby.
I searched for a photograph of Carville and Obama together. You know what? I couldn’t find one and if you can’t find something on the Internet, it’s probably not there to be found.
The absence of even a casual moment shared between the president and Carville should tell you how much Obama needs Carville. Not at all.
- Why Does Anyone Listen to James Carville? (slog.thestranger.com)
- James Carville’s Flawed Advice for Obama (thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com)
- James Carville To Obama: Time To Get Tough And Fire Some People (outsidethebeltway.com)