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James Carville Reads Dems The Riot Act

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I really like James Carville. He’s crazy, but he’s my kind of crazy. He’s had me to speak at his LSU class a couple of times. He’s not at all fake about his Democratic populism. In this interview with Vox, he rips into how crackpot his own party has become, and how they’re throwing this election away to Trump. Carville is really profane, because he’s really angry. This opening statement sets the tone for the interview:

Look, the turnout in the Iowa caucus was below what we expected, what we wanted. Trump’s approval rating is probably as high as it’s been. This is very bad. And now it appears the party can’t even count votes. What the hell am I supposed to think?

I’ll just say it this way: The fate of the world depends on the Democrats getting their shit together and winning in November. We have to beat Trump. And so far, I don’t like what I see. And a lot of people I talk to feel the same way.

He goes on:

We have candidates on the debate stage talking about open borders and decriminalizing illegal immigration. They’re talking about doing away with nuclear energy and fracking. You’ve got Bernie Sanders talking about letting criminals and terrorists vote from jail cells. It doesn’t matter what you think about any of that, or if there are good arguments — talking about that is not how you win a national election. It’s not how you become a majoritarian party.

For f-ck’s sake, we’ve got Trump at Davos talking about cutting Medicare and no one in the party has the sense to plaster a picture of him up there sucking up to the global elites, talking about cutting taxes for them while he’s talking about cutting Medicare back home. Jesus, this is so obvious and so easy and I don’t see any of the candidates taking advantage of it.

The Republicans have destroyed their party and turned it into a personality cult, but if anyone thinks they can’t win, they’re out of their damn minds.

I especially loved this comment about the “cultural disconnect” between the party’s elites and the rest of the country:

I want to give you an example of the problem here. A few weeks ago Binyamin Appelbaum, an economics writer for the New York Times, posted a snarky tweet about how LSU cancelled classes for the National Championship game. And then he said, do the “Warren/Sanders free public college proposals include LSU, or would it only apply to actual schools?”

You know how f-cking patronizing that is to people in the South or in the middle of the country? First, LSU has an unusually high graduation rate, but that’s not the point. It’s the goddamn smugness. This is from a guy who lives in New York and serves on the Times editorial board and there’s not a single person he knows that doesn’t pat him on the back for that kind of tweet. He’s so f-cking smart.

Appelbaum doesn’t speak for the Democratic Party, but he does represent the urbanist mindset. We can’t win the Senate by looking down at people. The Democratic Party has to drive a narrative that doesn’t give off vapors that we’re smarter than everyone or culturally arrogant.

Trust me, you’re going to want to read the whole thing. 

You might recall my long essay in reaction to that repulsive Appelbaum comment (“Coach O. vs the Acela Gradgrind”). Appelbaum actually lives in DC, but he does write for the editorial page of the NYT, and he graduated from Penn, an Ivy League school. That pissy East Coast, media-elite condescension towards the rest of the country is exactly what people hate about the Democratic Party and the culture around it (which includes the liberal media). The Louisiana governor, John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, canceled his own inaugural ball because of the game. Almost everybody in Louisiana was all in for the Tigers. It brought the whole state together. And then here comes an Ivy League graduate who lives in DC and writes editorials for The New York Times, taking a dump on us. Carville is right: it’s the g.d. smugness.

If you watch Carville’s caucus-night blistering of his own party on MSNBC, he talks about the “goofiness” that the Democratic candidates are talking about instead of the things that matter in people’s lives. He never specifies what that goofiness is, but the way he goes on to talk about how Elizabeth Warren has lost the plot suggests that this is the kind of thing he means. Here’s Warren on the campaign trail the other day talking about how she would allow a transgendered high school student interview candidates for Secretary of Education, and give the trans kid the power to decide if the candidate passes muster:

Carville didn’t say what the “goofiness” is, but Bill Maher did:

Now, Obama said people just don’t want crazy stuff. Is this not crazy stuff? Is she running for president of Berkeley? …

I always worry when this stuff happens. I would say there is only two teams now. Everything that happens on the left goes into the “blue bin.” You’re the party of this bullshit. You might be asked about this. Elizabeth Warren. What if she’s the candidate? What do you think… letting a high school student, forget the transgender part, a high school student have veto power over the cabinet?

Not just Warren, either. Here’s the rightmost candidate this cycle:

Yep, jack those middle schoolers up on cross-sex hormones, and if you say boo about it, you’re a bigot. That’s the Democratic Party for you.

Charlie Camosy, a Fordham professor who is solidly on the left, but is also pro-life, wrote this week in the NYPost that he had finally had enough, and has quit the Democratic Party. He had been a board member of Democrats For Life. Excerpt:

The straw that broke this camel’s back was Pete Buttigieg’s extremism. Here was a mainstream Democratic candidate suggesting, at one point, that abortion is OK up to the point the baby draws her first breath.

When I heard that, I realized we were fighting a losing battle.

If the party was willing to go all-in on the most volatile issue of our time with a position held by only 13 percent of the population, it was time to take no for an answer.

Many find it difficult to understand how a single issue could be so motivating for so many millions of people. If that’s you, put abortion out of your mind for the moment and consider the following thought experiment.

Suppose that hundreds of thousands of children are being killed each year in horrific ways. Often they are killed because they have Down syndrome. Sometimes, it is because their grandparents thought their parents were too young and irresponsible to have a child. Very often, it is because an abusive partner demands that the child be killed on threat of violence.

And then suppose a political party claimed this killing was a ­social good. Just another kind of health care. Something to shout about with pride.

This party, it should go without saying, would be unsupportable.

Read it all. Camosy didn’t become a Republican. He’s now voting third party.

Open borders. Partial-birth abortion. Transgenderism as the civil rights issue of our time. Identity politics über alles. That’s your Democratic Party in 2020.  It shouldn’t be that hard to make Donald Trump out to be the one out of touch with ordinary American life. But this crew is doing it!

UPDATE: A reader writes:

I just finished watching the New Hampshire Democratic debate, with a friend & neighbor, who’s a lifelong deep-blue Democrat; college-educated, retired, lower middle class, white female. My own politics are so eccentric that I talk to her to get some idea of what normal people think. She has slight preferences among the candidates, but she’s so anti-Trump that she would almost certainly “vote blue no matter who,” even if she were disappointed as to who the eventual Democratic presidential might wind up being.

This very smart, very kind woman enjoyed the New Hampshire debate, as everybody including Joe Biden seemed to be having an energetic night; she clapped & shouted “Yes!” when any one of them got off a good line.

Then, in about the last half hour of the debate, kicked off by Tom Steyer, they all got into the — for lack of a better term — racial stuff. And then my friend got very quiet. Not just because the candidates were saying things that she, a good person & a lifelong Democrat disagreed with, but also because she’s smart enough to recognize, a la Carville, that those things will be losers in the general election, and will either have other good people sitting on their hands at home on election day, or drive them to voting for Trump, either again or for the first time. I asked her about that, and she pretty much confirmed my perception of the reason for her getting so quiet after having noisily enjoyed the previous hour and a half of the debate.

Carville’s right, with this caveat, that it’s not just the stuff he mentioned, or that you did, Mr. Dreher. When we have leading Democratic presidential candidates talking about the necessity of having “race-conscious laws” — whatever the hell those might be — then we’ve got a problem.

I couldn’t believe that either! Tom Steyer talking about wanting reparations, and then trying to race-bait Joe Biden. Then Warren talking about how we need “race-conscious laws” to even the playing field. This upper middle class white woman is talking about passing laws that punish white people who haven’t made it, as she has, and their children. You’d have to be crazy to be a white person and vote for her, simply out of economic interest.

Another reader, Oscar Progresso:

This kinda surprised me. Carville is known – infamous, even – for fierce candor, but this interview sadly illustrates just how much the Left has everyone, including their own, by the balls. Very telling. He can’t even say out loud, in spite of his trademark bluster on full display, which only scratches surface-deep here, what is prima facie the sheer, literal madness of his own party. Soft totalitarianism, indeed!

Cowardice on his part? Maybe, but understandable. I empathize. I work in leadership in corporate America for a very well known Fortune 500 company. If I shared even a smattering of the woke environment that is standard fare in my workforce, you’d sh*t your pants, that is, if you are remotely tethered to reality. I saw something recently that rocked me on my heels (and I’m sober about reality). It elevated the Left’s creed to an entirely new level, well beyond the typical woke brashness. Things are changing with an exponential velocity that is disorienting – “hockey stick graph” morphing. I don’t share and guard my mouth carefully, depending on audience, out of self-preservation. I have a family to support. They are my raison d’etre. I’d be squashed immediately and mercilessly for even voicing a contrary thought. I suppose it’s a version of cowardice, too. It’s like being held hostage. If only I had legit “f-you” money. That’d help, but only tangentially. The culture is the culture.

Who knows? Maybe Carville actually believes the Left’s lunacy. He admits he’ll vote for Sanders, if need be. His main point seems to be that the Left’s agenda shouldn’t be highlighted cuz you can’t win elections that way, not because it’s insane. He tilts more to “how” things are said that is the problem…basically that the Dems need to be aware to not “give off vapors.” Now that’s clandestine stuff. That’s something to be “scared to death” about. That’s well beyond the valid “tell it slant” approach to influence or better evangelize. That’s going psyops-covert to subvert and seize power.

UPDATE.2: Another one:

1. I am what would once be called a Northeast Republican. But these days that pretty much makes me a conservative Democrat. Though white collar, I come from a long line of blue collar union workers who were once the backbone of the Democratic party. Most have long since become Republicans. Something that started with Reagan is never stopped.

2. My mother is a lifelong Democrat. We had pictures of Jesus and JFK when I was growing up. She’s still a very active Democrat but is fed up with socialism and trans-ism. Last night we visited and she had nothing good to say at all about any of the candidates except Klobuchar. She’s very concerned about where the party is going and sees no place in it for her any more. Loathing of Trump is the only reason she is even going to vote at all this time around.

3. My wife who would probably terrify most commenters here with her leftist rhetoric is starting to get fed up herself. Her company is not doing well and the CEO called an all-hands meeting to discuss an urgent matter effecting all employes. Was this the fiscal state of the company? No! It was about the proper way to address gender preferences without “harming” non-binary employees. This was a few months after she, a half Puerto Rican woman, was lectured by HR because she referred to herself as Latina and not LatinX. There are almost no people of color at this company and no trans workers. But loaded with white Ivy graduates who demand this sort of BS even more so than a fiscally responsible finance team apparently.

4. Now Democrats want to celebrate my former very effective Governor Romney for being a hero. This was the man who was once supposed to be as much a misogynist, racist NAZI as we are told Trump is today. Don’t get me wrong – I find Trump as loathsome as ay politician I’ve witnessed in my lifetime. But you can only cry racist-wolf so many times before it loses meaning.

I shudder to think what 4 more years of Trump means. But I also shudder to think what victory will mean for this new Democratic agenda.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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