The Carville Flap: Another Illustration of ‘the Clinton Rules’ in Action
You know, an Obama campaign co-chair recently compared Bill Clinton to Joe McCarthy—-a truly dire insult from the point of view of anyone old enough to remember what McCarthy was and did. And the insult was generated not because of anything Clinton said or did but because of something McPeak assumed he meant or might have meant or could be construed to have meant, despite the fact that he didn’t in fact say what McPeak said he said. The reaction of the Hillary-demonizing media and punditocracy to McPeak’s response to a meaning he had to wring out of Bill Clinton’s words? "…………………."
Sure it was almost too silly to dignify with a response, but it was an interesting illustration of how there is really nothing too bad or too absurd for people in Obama’s camp to say about the Clintons—or for those with a large media platform to say. Cf. Andrew Sullivan’s allegations that Hillary’s proposal that Obama run on a joint ticket as Vice President of the United States and therefore as the logical successor to the presidency amounted to an instance ‘white entitlement.’ Again with the accusations or implications of racism!–another dire insult as and routinely lightly and absurdly flung at the Clintons as though racism weren’t a grave offense against God, humanity, and common decency.
So then Carville called Richardson a Judas, to the shock and horror of every Obama supporter and every pro-Obama pundit or Obama in the United States. Shock! Horror! Calls for Carville to resign!
And yet Carville was only expressing the rage—in trenchant Carville-style hyperbole, natch—that many supporters felt on hearing the news.
For 15 years, Richardson served with no small measure of distinction as the representative of New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District. But he gained national stature — and his career took off — when President Bill Clinton appointed him U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and later made him energy secretary.
So, when asked on Good Friday about Richardson’s rejection of the Clintons, the metaphor was too good to pass by. I compared Richardson to Judas Iscariot. (And Matthew Dowd is right: Had it been the Fourth of July, I probably would have called him Benedict Arnold.)
I believed that Richardson’s appointments in Bill Clinton’s administration and his longtime personal relationship with both Clintons, combined with his numerous assurances to the Clintons and their supporters that he would never endorse any of Sen. Hillary Clinton‘s opponents, merited a strong response. (WaPo)
Call me old-fashioned, but isn’t calling someone a "Judas" strikes me as a pretty standard response to a perception that one has betrayed one’s friends? In my neck of the woods, it is. I’ve been doing it all my life.
Of course there was bound to be blowback. Posting on Carville’s remarks, I said that it would probably take only about five seconds for someone to accuse Hillary of thinking she’s Jesus, even though Carville does not officially OR unofficially speak for her.. Carville again: ""Keith Olbermann, about two degrees shy of the temperature necessary for self-combustion, quipped, "So if he’s Judas in this analogy, who’s Jesus?""(WaPo)
I missed Olbermann’s—or, as he’s now known among Hillary supporters, Obamaman’s—comments because, like everyone who goes on perversely loving Hillary against MSNBC’s better judgment and thinking she’s the better candidate by a moonlight mile, I have stopped paying attention to MSNBC, which doesn’t seem to need or want me as a viewer.
But of course the uproar was to be expected. It’s in the RULES. You know the rules, right? Under the Obama rules, no one, even a campaign co-chair, speaks for Obama however over-the-top and out of line the anti-Clinton rhetoric. Under the Clinton rules, on the other hand, any old friend, campaign donor, supporter, or lowly campaign worker in the smallest of small towns becomes her ‘surrogate.’
Of course, under the Obama rules, a pro-Obama media figure such as Olbermann can say anything he wants to about the Clintons and that’s okay because anything bad about the Clintons is true; while under the Clinton rules, a pro-Hillary Clinton media figure such as Carville must not say anything bad about anyone connected to Obama because pro-Hillary media figures are expected to be decently ashamed of their advocacy and keep quiet about it.
Carville goes on:
I know enough to know that comparing a former Cabinet secretary and sitting governor to Judas is inflammatory and provocative. I expected the coverage that it evoked.
Was it a desperate gambit for attention? Was I just trying to prove my point that both Samantha Power‘s resignation from the Obama campaign for calling Sen. Clinton a monster and the Obama campaign hysterically promoting Geraldine Ferraro‘s misguided statements were equally silly and superficial?. (WaPo)
No, he says. He was speaking from the heart—a heart which, I have heard Carville’s detractors recently allege, would prove on close examination to be as undersized as the Grinch’s before his epiphany. But Carville’s advocacy of progressive causes refutes any such argument, as does his loyalty to the Clintons. Whatever his heart’s actual dimensions, it happens to contain a sizable compartment of affection and respect for, and loyalty to, the Clintons. So Carville, like the rest of us who value Hillary, was furious with Bill Richardson. When asked for a comment, he spoke as he felt:
I was saying what I felt as an individual who — with no encouragement from the Clintons but as someone who is proud to consider himself a friend of theirs — thought that Richardson had done something deeply disloyal….
I believe that loyalty is a cardinal virtue. Nowhere in the world is loyalty so little revered and tittle-tattle so greatly venerated as in Washington. I was a little-known political consultant until Bill Clinton made me. When he came upon hard times, I felt it my duty –whatever my personal misgivings — to stick by him. At the very least, I would have stayed silent. And maybe that’s my problem with what Bill Richardson did. Silence on his part would have spoken loudly enough.
Most of the stuff I’ve ever said is pretty insignificant and by in large has been said off the cuff and without much thought to the
potential consequences. That was not the case in this instance. Bill Richardson’s response was that the Clinton people felt they were entitled to the presidency.
I must interject here. “Entitled to the presidency….” No, that’s not insulting at all, is it? And yet, I hear no voices raised in the media when this ridiculous allegation is made against the Clintons. But again, again: whatever anyone says about the Clintons that’s hyperbolic, speculative, wrong, or flat-out ludicrous is presumptively true and therefore unworthy even of comment.
In my mind, that is a debatable hypothesis. But, even more than that, I know that a former president of the United
States who appointed someone to two Senate-confirmed positions is entitled to have his phone calls returned.(WaPo).
Yes, that does seem to be rather a slap in the face, doesn’t it? And yet the Clintons, if not Carville (because if we’re going with the religious metaphor, let us take it all the way), turned the other cheek to the extent of keeping silent about their disappointment.
If Richardson was going to turn on the Clintons the way he did, I see no problem in saying what I said. Because if loyalty is one virtue, another is straight talk. And if Democrats can’t handle that, they’re going to have a hard time handling a Republican nominee who is seeking the presidency with that as his slogan. (WaPo; emphasis added)
To take the religious metaphor another step further since I seem in the vein: Amen.
So, Like many infuriated Hillary supporters—sick to death of the media’s and the punditocracy’s attempts to delegitimize our candidate by giving her a reality-show villainness’s carefully selective story-line— I want to thank Carville for speaking out on her behalf, however hyperbolically. I’d rather that everyone dial back the rhetoric, but I am well and truly fed up with seeing one set of rules applied to Obama’s side of the argument and another set applied to Clinton’s.
As to Carville himself: just this once, I’d like to see Obama rules applied to a Clinton supporter in the media.