10 November 2006

Stand down, Capt. Picard (BR)
James Carville, loser from Louisiana, messes with success

Exotic animal and alleged Democratic strategerist James Carville took a few minutes away from buffing his scalp to air the murmurs shared by his disgruntled compatriots in the party.

"But, but Brendan," you might stammer in my direction, "Democrats are coming off what can only be described as a triumph! They took back the House and Senate, and won and ran competitively in places they've avoided for years! This election was an unqualified success!" To which I would respond, "Yes, precisely why Carville and company are furious."

First, a little history: Carville, Bob Shrum, Harold Ickes and other pillars of the neoliberal Clintonian legacy undoubtedly wake up every morning and believe in their heart of hearts that it's still November 4, 1992, and America has just elected its first gin-yoo-wine hillbilly Chief Executive, thanks in no small part to their cunning and genius.

All success in the Carville/New Democrat story ends there. The Republican Revolution which claimed Congress in the 1994 midterm elections owed much to Carville's hubris, and the Democratic Party had been playing defense, with little success, right up until this last Tuesday.

My own withering opinion of the man notwithstanding, he's now floating test balloons about ousting DNC Chairman and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, alleging that the Dr.'s "stubborn" insistence on building state and local parties in the southern and midwestern states more or less ignored by Democrats for the last 40 years, diverted resources away from winnable Congressional races and thus prevented a total landslide victory.

It's worth noting that the 50-State Strategy, Dean's brainchild, almost certainly provided the margins of victory for several Democrat candidates in conservative districts, like Kansas' Nancy Boyda and Indiana's Baron Hill. Of course not all credit is due Dean; Rep. Rahm Emanuel, Sen. Charles Schumer and the candidates themselves obviously performed well.

The rule is that you clean house after a loss. Howard Dean shook off the embarrassing denouement of his insurgent 2004 Presidential campaign to win the party's national committee chairmanship in a landslide. Two years later, the Democratic Party stands proud and victorious atop a pile of vanquished Republican villians, and what's Carville's big idea?
"Suppose Harold Ford became chairman of the DNC? How much more money do you think we could raise?"
Harold Ford? Are you nuts, James? Did your wife find your private stash of letterhead and send out a press release? Ford ran a fine campaign and in most states would likely have pulled out an upset victory, but you want to replace an undeniable success like Dean with the one guy who lost on Tuesday?

But if you think about it a moment, it makes perfect sense. Carville and his cohorts have dropped the ball in every election in which they've participated since Clinton's ascension to power. He thinks the party rewards success and punishes failure and he's been right. Now Democrats are winning, other people are getting the kudos, and he doesn't understand why.

This cueball-looking freak represents a strain of liberalism that even liberals are completely sick of. And we need to disinvite him from the party. Even Republicans have to admit that Dean did a bang-up job turning out volume of small donations from individual voters, which is surely the way of the future for an allegedly "people-powered" party looking to legislatively curb corporate influence on government.

UPDATE: Digby says, "My sentiments, exactly."