Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Wrecking Crew


By Tom Hayden

Does anyone else feel growing revulsion at the obviously amoral attacks on Barack Obama by the top henchmen of the Clinton team, James Carville and Lanny Davis?

I used to like these fellows. I met Carville when he launched his national career with the campaign of Harris Wofford for Senator on a health-care agenda. And I suppose I forgave Lanny Davis for his laborious legal spinning on behalf of an almost-impaled Bill Clinton.

But they have gone over to the dark side, becoming really nasty political operatives, however, who are offending large numbers of Democrats as they say anything to wreck Obama’s campaign. These week they even drove Anderson Cooper and Joe Klein nuts with the audacity of their spin.

Carville claims to be proud of the media attention he drew for slandering Bill Richardson as a “Judas”, as if Carville has the power to punish. Most people assume the Clintons offered Richardson more than thirty pieces of silver, but still couldn’t close the deal. Evolving far from his populist roots, Carville makes a lot of money as a consultant to Latin American candidates who favor imposing Clinton’s NAFTA-style policies on their own people, including Bolivia and Argentina. It’s all there in the incredible documentary by Rachel Boynton, Our Brand Is Crisis. And it’s not Carville alone, it’s Team Clinton trying to dominate Latin America as paid consultants, including Mark Penn.

Hillary Clinton must have her reasons for deploying these unsavory, heavy-handed male operatives. It’s sad if this is what her feminism has come to.

The script out there seems to be this. Someone splices together a few minutes out of hundreds of hours of tapes by Rev. Wright. Someone gives it to the media. It is the beginning of the six-week news void before the next primary. FOX tries to destroy Obama in order to break his his delegate and popular lead in the primaries, because FOX wants Hillary to be the nominee. When the Wright story sags, Hillary chimes in with her strange statement that you can’t choose your family, but you can choose your minister [one Freudian interpretation: she couldn’t leave her husband, but Obama could leave his congregation?]. The Clintons will escalate and escalate. Her defeat is not an option; therefore, the destruction of Obama is their last “hope”.

Only a rising tide of public disgust can stop the Clintons from these tactics, as the public reacton temporarily shelved Bill Clinton after South Carolina.


LDFan said...

Personally, I'm more disgusted by the Obama campaign comparing Bill Clinton to Joe McCarthy...

Anonymous said...

to Idfan - had you lived those years, you would find the analogy to Clinton sitting in Joe McCarthy's pocket, VALID. It is sad that Billary can get to so many people simply because they don't know their own American history.

In regards "Wrecking Crew" thank you so much for balancing the spew from Billary campaign, which by the way - this is another campaign fight for another BILL CLINTON presidency, who do they think they are kidding.

Hillary has NO CREDENTIALS, they don't plan on her running anything, just being his mouthpiece as usual. Fortunately because they are such fools and so full of larceny, the campaign has had a longer run enabling us to chip away at their iceberg.

It is a journey few of us will forget once we get Obama in the White House. Once all these Clinton puppets get it through their heads - that the Clintons have no power and cannot ruin their personal lives, they too can rest easier and clean up their own fearful messes.

Alexa James said...

James Carville has always been good -- no, brilliant -- at what he does because he's willing to do what it takes to win.

It's funny how when he plied his considerable gifts on behalf of candidates we supported, we made him a hero, but now that he's on the other side, we call "no fair."

The polarization of politics that says anyone who speaks against your candidate is inherently "bad" is part of the problem in our system.

Part of why the progressives lose...and lose... and lose... is because fundamentally, we don't trust people who know how to play the game to win. We're going to have to get over our squeamishness over how to win in politics if we're ever going to get progressive candidates elected.


Dave said...

Seriously, if Carville is a "democratic party strategist" he would see and state the problem with the current state of affairs: it's a scorched policy by the second runner... and the looser will be the party.

But, Carville is NOT a strategist: he's a Clinton hack with no real conviction for progressive movement.

His indictment of Richardson as Judas indicates this clearly. Richardson is attempting to unify the party and have a role in that unification.

At this point Carville is cashing in on his fame and has given up on making much of a contribution to the country. He's also got some sins to address for what has already been done.

Certainly, someone will remember the Lincoln bedroom and other "fund raising tactics".

Obama has the base to rasie money without courting the big check donors. That's why he might also be able to help others get elected... they wouldn't neccessarily have to sell out to get in the game.

irene b said...

The real truth is that Carville isn't a Democratic party strategist, just as Karl Rove, in the end, wasn't a Republican party strategist...they both are and were henchmen for their individual candidates. Just as Rove cared nothing for the future of the Republican "brand", Carville cares little for the future of the Democratic one.

okamichan13 said...

I like this site and the idea behind it but can't say I'm that impressed with this post. Is this site dedicated to advancing progressive ideas in Obama's campaign or is it just going to be another mouthpeice for Obama campaign talking points regarding whatever the hell the two campaigns are arguing about for today?

If the latter, it is a real disappointment and a waste of an opportunity. There are lots of other places where readers can get the same thing and a lot of people, a lot of progressives, are simply tired of it.

How about we stick to the issues? Honestly why should anyone of us care what Carville said today? The media is looking for a fight. And a fight is a distraction. Lets keep focused.

Juli in Jax said...

I'm new to the site, having just read Progressives for Obama from The Nation Magazine. I do not usually listen to anything Mr. Carville says, knowng that his pillowtalk is shared with Cheney-enabler Mary Matlin. The Judas remark did register, however, because it smells of retribution to other Superdelegates who may share Bill Richardson's distaste for canibalizing candidates from one's own Party. I believe there is currently a desperate fear among the pro-corporate, big donor Dems that they have lost a great deal of influence in the Party because of the success of Obama's grassroots donor base. Has it topped two million yet? The Carvilles and Penns are beginning to see the light of a ground up movement, and accustomed to back-room dark dealing, they shy away from such transparency as if burned. Sunshine in government is one of the reasons I support Obama. A new day is dawning, so we can finally put the rationalizations of "at the end of the day" to rest.

Guitarsandmore805 said...

Carville has always lived in my mind as one of those talking heads on one of the "news like shows" that doesn't really mean much and so I don't pay much attention to what he says.

I am much more interested in what Obama says and what Hillary says( you know, the candidates that are actually running for office)!

I have to agree with Idfan, though, I watched what Bill Clinton said over and over again and there was nothing there other than a call for the candidates to debate the issues. I have to agree with Bill Clinton 100% on his very legitimate request.

JohnG said...

Hillary! You Do Have a Choice!

You can continue on the low road. Negative campaign tactics will further denigrate and marginalize your opponent Barack Obama. You can diminish his leadership experiences (while falsely exaggerating yours), you can call attention to his race (while exploiting your gender), you can question his patriotism (while noting McCain’s), you can mock his oratory skills (as just words rather than as calls for action), and you can reduce the nuances of his language (by resorting to sound bites). Yes, you can! You could even search for additional inflammatory tapes of the Reverend Wright, knowing CNN and Fox News will loop them endlessly.

Or…you can take the high road. Yes, you can!

I urge you. Take a time out. Think about what the high road would be like.

I see two paths. You could withdraw and throw your support to Barack, a logical choice given the miniscule chances you have of actually winning the nomination (the math is now almost inevitable), or you could continue to campaign…but you could choose do so in a constructive and positive manner. Meet Barack on the high ground. Or, raise the bar! Talk positively about your platform and his; they are virtually the same (the economy, healthcare, the war, the environment, the supreme court, and national security). Make it clear that you share similar plans and that come next January, whether it is you or Barack who becomes our next President, those plans will put our nation on the road to a better future. Make it clear that you respect his capacity to lead. He will respect yours. Address race and gender in a nuanced way, building on his speech by adding weight and substance to the national conversation. If you change your campaign rhetoric to a positive message, I am convinced Barack will join you. If not, challenge him to meet you on higher ground, and walk that high road together. Do this for the good of the Democratic Party and for the good of the nation.

I am convinced that if you take the high road, you will actually increase your chances of winning the nomination. They will remain slim, but, in the end, super-delegates will be more willing support a positive candidate than a negative one…and, if you do not win the nomination, you will have at least increased our chances of winning the Presidency, and winning greater majorities in the House and Senate. This election is about our chances and our futures, not yours.

John McCain and Mike Huckabee took the high road in the closing weeks of their campaigns. Mitt Romney, the negative campaigner, fell from grace. This has left McCain less damaged than he might have been. Your current low road tactics will leave both you and Barack looking like damaged goods by November. The low road hurts you more than it hurts Barack (look at the recent polls). Negativity is driving voters away from the Democratic Party and into the McCain column. Stop! Take a moment to think about us.

I am a life long Democrat. My baptism came in 1956, when I was thirteen. My Uncle Bill O’Brian took me to see Adeli Stevenson at a field house at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. I had been there before with him to watch RPI play hockey, and to watch the Harlem Globe Trotters. As an eighth grader, I was on the cusp of political awareness. I knew enough to grasp the essence of Stevenson’s speech, but certainly did not understand its full significance. Nevertheless, I was awed by Stevenson’s presentation; he was an orator, like Obama. His message of empowering the disenfranchised resonated in my young mind, and the poetry of his words was inspiring. I came home to my Republican parents, who were avidly supporting Eisenhower, with a pocket full of “Stevenson for President” buttons. I proceeded to wear them to counter my mother’s rhinestone-studded “I Like Ike” pendant that she wore that fall. To my dismay, Eisenhower and Nixon won in a landslide.

In 1960, I was too young to vote for JFK, but as a senior in high school I followed his campaign. I was born and raised in Albany, a town dominated by an Irish political machine (the remnants of Tammany Hall). My uncles were all blue collar Democrats, and many of my parent’s friends were Irish Catholics who still talked about Al Smith and his disastrous run as the first Catholic presidential candidate. I was aware of the emerging civil rights movement. I was aware of the poisonous rhetoric of Joe McCarthy. I was aware of Cold War politics. I was aware of Nixon’s Checkers Speech. I watched the first televised debates. I saw hope in JFK, and he won.

My politics came of age during the era of Martin Luther King, Pete Seeger and the Weavers, SDS, the Black Panthers, Robert Kennedy, Eugene McCarthy, the Vietnam War, Watergate, the Women’s Liberation Movement, the Gay Rights Movement, AIDS, and Iran Contra. At sixty-five, I am an old school progressive, a dyed-in-the-wool leftist, but I also understand the need for compromise and unity with those who think differently. As this year’s election cycle began, I was excited. Democrats have a real opportunity to lead. Bush and Cheney have destroyed the Republican revolution, and our nation. We produced a credible and exciting field of candidates. I was happy and optimistic. Regardless of the eventual nominee, it seemed like a win-win opportunity.

Initially, of the top three, I supported John Edwards because I thought he offered the most progressive and detailed platform, but I was torn. You, Hillary, and Barack seemed equally strong. The prospect of the first woman President or the first black President was enticing. It was not until New Hampshire and South Carolina that my preference started to emerge. It became apparent that Edwards was not viable, and it became apparent that you, Hillary, were willing to win at any cost. At that point, I chose Barack. It was your emerging negativity that determined my choice. Unfortunately, you and Bill have continued down the path of slash and burn politics that I find so offensive. Now, I am not sure I could vote for you in November even if you somehow garner the nomination. It is that bad. But, for the sake of the nation, there is still time for you to make a different choice.

Give us “a profile in courage” moment. Do a one-eighty. Continue to campaign, but go hyper-positive. Muzzle Bill, and Geraldine, and James Carville. Outdo Barack in your generosity. Speak on behalf of the party and the Democratic agenda. Take on John McCain while supporting your teammate, Barack. If you can do that, I might even vote for you in the North Carolina primary this May. At this point, you have nothing to lose, and we have everything to gain.

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