Saturday, November 11, 2006

Et tu, James Carville?

Immediately after an historic victory for the Democratic Party in the mid-term elections, Democratic strategist James Carville had his say. You'd think he'd be pleased. You'd be wrong:

Some big name Democrats want to oust DNC Chairman Howard Dean, arguing that his stubborn commitment to the 50-state strategy and his stinginess with funds for House races cost the Democrats several pickup opportunities.

The candidate being floated to replace Dean? Harold Ford.

Says James Carville, one of the anti-Deaniacs, "Suppose Harold Ford became chairman of the DNC? How much more money do you think we could raise? Just think of the difference it could make in one day. Now probably Harold Ford wants to stay in Tennessee. I just appointed myself his campaign manager."

Here are some comments from around the blogosphere:

At Daily Kos:

Dean was elected. If Carville has a master plan to stage a coup against Dean, I'd love to see it. But I doubt the state party chairs who provided Dean's margin of victory are going to get too torn up about the fact that Dean is helping fund their resurgence.

At Monkeyfister:

Look, Schuler, Emmanual, and Carville-- Put your long knives down, and STEP THE FUCK AWAY... We WON... Get it? We SWEPT THE HOUSE AND THE SENATE...

Learn to WORK TOGETHER, DAMMIT. We Democrats and Progressives are sick and fucking tired of this "Liberal Herd of Cats" mentality... Pull your shit together, and stop fucking one another while we're AHEAD... Just fucking ONCE???!!!!??? Can ya just be happy we won because we COOPERATED this time??? Your bullshit does NOTHING but LOSE elections when you act like this.

Let the GOP stab each other... It's NOT for US to do that. Put your fucking EGOs DOWN, STEP AWAY, and work on UNITY you bunch of fuckwipes. How about planning how we ALL can work together BETTER for a 2008 Presidential Victory-- THAT is your fucking job right now-- now stealing the limelight, or stabbing your Brothers and Sisters in the back.

At Blah3:

I don't have a whole lot of time here (I've got an early gig tonight), but I just wanted to say that the suggestion of replacing Howard Dean - the very architect of the 50-state strategy that opened the can of whoop-ass on the Rubber-Stamp Republican Congress - is probably the most bone-headed thing that Carville has ever said.

Yep, he's a genius, all right - right up there with that other super-genius, Karl Rove.

Sit down, James. Your time has come and gone.

Me? I think we need to take a closer look at Mr. Carville.

Carville's dedication to Democratic victory in 2004:

On election night 2004, GOP communications guru Mary Matalin was with Bush and Vice President Cheney and talking with her husband, Democratic strategist James Carville , who was close to -- but not in -- John Kerry 's campaign.

Kerry, Carville told her, was going to challenge 250,000 provisional ballots in Ohio, which could change the result there or tie things up for a long time. Matalin promptly told Cheney, and they met with Bush. The Kerry camp made the announcement shortly thereafter.

What's a little pillow talk between opposing campaign strategists, right? But was he reckless or strategic? We know where his loyalties lie. A few months ago, he wrote an article called "The Power of Hillary" talking up Sen. Hillary Clinton's (D-NY) chances in a Presidential election. Carville speaks glowingly of Sen. Clinton's political savvy, endurance, and belovedness nation-wide. It's not just that he thinks she can win; it's clear that he wants her to run.

What's the common denominator here? If Kerry won in 2004, Clinton is ruled out for 2008. If Kerry won re-election in 2008, then Vice President Edwards would be the hands-down favorite in 2012. Sen. Clinton ain't getting any younger. In the case of Dean, this historic victory gives him the clout to become a king-maker in 2008. It's not that Dean would be biased against Clinton; it's just that he wouldn't be biased for her. So who does he propose? Harold Ford, the Tennessee Democrat who continued the fine DLC tradition of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

But there's more to it than that. Carville's DLC loyalties translate into corporate loyalties. Consider some of his foreign affairs experience:

Venezuela's embattled private sector is banking on the colorful U.S. political consultant James Carville to help oust leftist President Hugo Chavez. The hire may herald an effort by the anti-Chavistas to focus more on the issues than on personality.

According to several individuals with knowledge of the matter, a group of business executives contracted with Mr. Carville this year to craft a strategy that will unify a fractious and frustrated Chavez opposition and resonate with voters in a possible recall referendum. The executives are hoping that Mr. Carvillethe folksy, 59-year-old Democratic Party consultant from Louisiana known as the Ragin' Cajunwill push a variation of his "It's the economy, stupid" theme that helped propel Bill Clinton to victory in 1992. But analysts say Mr. Carville and his clients face a formidable challenge.

Mr. Carville is also rumored to have been involved with the unsuccessful coup against Chavez in 2002, although these rumors may be a misunderstanding of Mr. Carville's support for President Chavez's corporate opponents. Either way, it lines up with the DLC's and Mr. Carville's support of corporations ahead of Democratic principles. Carville has done as much as anybody in America to portray Chavez as a dictator, when he is, in fact a President whose election was monitored by former President Carter and certified as legitimate. President Chavez has a greater claim to legitimacy than President Bush.

Now let's examine Carville's excellent adventures in Bolivia:

Political documentaries don’t come any more shaming than Rachel Boynton’s terrific ‘‘Our Brand is Crisis,’’ a barely straight-faced account of what happened in Bolivia in 2002, when a group of US consultants helped a candidate win the presidency only to see the country slide into near-total chaos.

Globalism extends to the American way of campaigning, it seems, and the hubris of the gringo strategists — earnest ex-Clintonistas employed by James Carville’s Greenberg Carville Shrum group — would be hilarious if human lives and a country’s political will weren’t at stake.

It’s a galling and provocative experience to viewers of any political persuasion, and a reminder to the left of how easily idealism can run amok.

The Carville boys were hired by Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, a.k.a. ‘‘Goni,’’ a patrician Bolivian businessman who served a rough term as Bolivia’s president in the mid-’90s. Goni’s legacy was an unsuccessful program of ‘‘capitalization’’ (i.e., he welcomed foreign investment and watched foreigners get all the jobs).

All hail the free market gods.

Against Goni are Evo Morales, a socialist firebrand who represents the country’s coca growers but who denies he’s a drug lord or a terrorist, and Cochabamba mayor Manfred Reyes Villa, a thoughtful pragmatist with a charismatic head of hair. Villa leads in the polls, so Rosner and company decide he must be taken down.

It’s a measure of the trust filmmaker Boynton built with the Americans that they happily discuss negative campaigning with the cameras rolling — either that, or they’re willfully blind. Management consultant Tal Silverstein insists ‘‘we have to turn [Villa] from a clean candidate to a dirty one,’’ and articles go out fretting about his military experience and digging into his finances. ‘‘Tomorrow they’ll probably say I’m an associate of Osama bin Laden,’’ Villa shrugs in an interview.

Karl Rove could take notes.

Goni wins by the narrowest of margins in a severely split field. He does little for several months (other than plan to ship Bolivia’s natural gas from a port in enemy Chile), then decides to raise taxes. Cut to riots in the streets. Over a hundred people died in the ensuing months, and Goni eventually fled to America. In late 2005, Morales won the presidency with a historic 54 percent of the vote. You could argue that the Carville consultants helped drive Bolivia into his arms, since the centrist Villa would likely have won in 2002 without their intervention.

This begs the question: Carville may know how to win elections, but does he know a thing about good government? The answer is clearly "no". Getting back to Dean, the DNC under his leadership seems to be more interested in building a strong infrastructure than in getting particular Democrats (namely, Hillary) elected President. Carville, on the other hand, would like to put another Clinton in the White House. Not only is he fiercely loyal to them, but it would also put another notch under his belt. But Democrats whose last names are not "Clinton" need to watch out for this little weasel. His loyalty is not to the Democratic Party or to Democratic ideals. His loyalty is to corporate America and the Clintons. He could give a rat's ass if the Democrats won the House and Senate. He wants to use the DNC as a tool to sew up the nomination for Hillary early. That's why he wants Harold Ford in the big seat and not Dean.

That's the conflict. It's not about egos, it's about differing agendas. Anybody who thinks Carville can be trusted at this point needs to look at his history. He's a pit bull for very specific interests; nothing more, nothing less.


Anonymous said...

The only way Dems lost in 2008 is if they nominate Hillary. She is toxic to much of America. I can't believe people aren't mentioning Al Gore more when discussing serious candidates. To me he is the obvious choice. Shafted in 2000, right on the war, a true visionary/leader on the environment. The anti-Hillary, so to speak...

Anonymous said...

Carville's firms have business clients as well as political clients.

From GCS (Greenberg Carville Shrum) website:

Business Clients (partial list):

BP Amoco
United Healthcare
Pizza Hut
Israel's Cellular Telephone Companies
Israel's Cable TV Companies

And from Carville's own page:

American Express

and more

Also many other foreign politicos.

Check it out

shrimplate said...

It's a simple fact now that Dean's Fifty State Strategy has produced results in the short term that have laid groundwork for future successes.

Compare that acheivement to Bob Shrum's string of craptacular failures.

Markos and MyDD seem presciently wise in retrospect when one reads in "Crashing the Gate" about their concern for the old-guard Democratic campaign consultants. While maybe we do need some of the good consultants, the old way of picking a few "battleground" races has not worked so well compared to the Dean strategy.

Dean has an eye for the future and for party-building, and the left blogosphere will probably someday surpass the importance of right-wing talk-radio in political messaging and fund-raising, giving us media dominance too.

Right now any criticism of Dean's hard work goes on the back burner while we continue to work his program to future wins.