I’ve usually agreed with James Carville’s take-no-prisoners method of going after Republicans. Carville has always felt that Democrats need to speak up and speak out strongly against GOP policies whenever they have the chance. He’s written several books on the subject, even drawing up talking points for liberals to use at local barbeques where they might run into family members who would argue that Bush is the second coming personified.
On another point, I’ve always liked Harold Ford Jr., the candidate who lost his election bid for Senator in the Tennessee race against Bob Corker. Well, always liked him until he spoke out in 2002 (or 2004, I can’t remember) when the Republicans handily trounced the Democrats and said that America took a huge shift to the right, and that the conservative wing of the Democratic party needed to assert itself in light of the losses. To my eye, it seemed as if the problem with the Democratic candidates in those elections was that they were running as “Republicans Lite,” and the issue was that as long as Democrats behaved like Republicans, America would find no reason to vote for them. My argument was that Democrats hadn’t run on the Democratic “moral values” that they did successfully in the 2006 elections. In hindsight, America was still voting “fear of terrorism” and “security,” and the voters were still buying that the GOP could keep them safe. Before America could hear anything about the economy, healthcare, education, etc., it needed to be a few years into a horrible war and it needed the GOP and Bush administration scandals to blossom. That finally happened this year, and voters sent a message repudiating government corruption and the Iraq Occupation.
While America voted against Bush and the Occupation, it remains to be seen whether or not it also voted for the Democratic agenda. One might argue that since America voted for Democrats who were espousing such things as cutting student loan interest rates, implementing the recommendations of the 9/11 commission, raising the minimum wage to $7.25, and other traditionally liberal ideals, that is what America wanted. The right-wing radio hatemongers claim that it’s only because Democrats ran more conservative candidates across the country that they won this cycle. So I guess the question is, did America finally vote for the best interests of the middle-class, and for “draining the swamp” of corruption? Or did it only vote for the GOP alternative as a combination of protest and the belief that these new Democrats were more like their Republican counterparts when it came to policy?
I would believe the former, and that the Democrats are on probation. Right-wing hatemongers seem to believe the latter, and now it seems so does James Carville. In this article from Salon.com, Thomas F. Schaller asks the question, “Do Democrats need the South?” In that article, Schaller notes that Carville is offering that Harold Ford Jr. should replace Howard Dean as DNC chairperson. If anything, I would agree with this other article from Salon that would indicate the 2006 elections were a vindication of Dean and his misson to revive the Democratic party on a state-by-state level.
I guess I was just shocked that a self-professed liberal like Carville would advocate turning the Democratic party over to its more conservative members. Now that I think about it though, the Clintons are pretty tight with Carville of course, and with Hillary being one of the key members of the DLC, I guess it’s not so surprising after all. With America so sharply criticizing the Iraq Occupation, Hillary certainly can’t continue on the path she has carved out for herself on the Iraq front — meandering almost lock-step with the (p)resident on the so-called “war on terror” — if she intends to be the Democratic nominee for President in 2008. So maybe this is just Carville testing the waters to see how much power the DLC will actually hold in the party after these 2006 elections? After all, it’s not like Hillary or Bill or Joe Liebermann could came out and offer that Ford should replace Dean as DNC chair. I’d guess it’s a favor for an old friend.
The real question is, should we be so quick to start the internal power grabbing this soon after an election? I think Mr. Carville might want to re-think his strategy here. Although I’m all for letting people have their say, the right-wing is watching the Democrats very carefully for any sign of discontent or intra-party ideological fissures and I think right now, it’s time for Carville to shut the hell up… At least for a little while.