Is James Carville Throwing Hillary Clinton Under the Bus?

The Rajun Cajun took to CNN this week and said that anyone who left any money on the table or in their coffers when there was a chance to take back elected seats is a bad leader. He said, "I think this party ought to be focused. It is the candidates whose hearts are broken out there. It is the candidates and their families and their staffs who have been let down, because we left -- we left them hanging out there." If I didn't know any better, I would think that he was talking about the junior Senator from New York.

Indeed, when looking at the bluest of blue states, New York, there was a chance to take back the State Senate, where there were a number of tight races that Democrats ultimately lost. Hillary Clinton, who had just a nominal race, ended her campaign with upwards of $10 million cash in hand. Could she have made a difference in a number of those races by giving more money to the state party and its committees, as well as candidates? Absolutely.

According to Carville, people who do things like that are "C-minus generals" and "Rumsfeldian" in their incompetence, as he told The New York Times.

I take a different view - Hillary did all she responsibly could. First of all, the Senator did a hell of a lot to help her state candidates, despite ending the campaign with a lot of money in her own bank account. Clinton either directly gave or helped raise $550,000 for the state party, while her Political Action Committee gave roughly $96,000 to state candidates. It's not necessarily a matter of money, then, but whether these candidates did the right thing with the money. Apparently, they didn't in all cases.

Second, why should Hillary Clinton bankrupt her own campaign treasury? There are limits to how generous one can be with their campaign warchest. Who knows if Clinton will face a strong challenge in six years which will necessitate a large sum of cash on hand? That, of course, is if the obvious doesn't happen in another two years. That brings me to my next point - Hillary obviously is thinking about making a jump to a higher office. She has longterm plans for that money. Keeping some cash in the reserves is essential, if she's not to mortgage her longterm plans.

Back, then, to James Carville. Actually, his newly-espoused philosophy of life and politics wasn't meant to tar Hillary Clinton -- he was referring to Democratic Party Chair Howard Dean. Carville has his shorts in a knot because Howard Dean refused to bankrupt the party by sending more cash to Carville and his buddies for ineffective television ads at the end of the campaign. Dean was smart. Though the party had a $10 million line of credit - the same amount Hillary had on hand - he refused to send the party into deep debt, just to make some consultants happy. Additionally, like Hillary, Dean has a longterm plan for the party. Specifically, Dean is committed to building up state parties, to make the Democrats competitive in every state in the union.

Dean's strategy is smart politics, but nothing novel. Throughout the 80s, the Republican Party and its right wing focused on state and local elections, and building an infrastructure outside of Washington, DC. This allowed them to foster "conservative ideals" in communities that had been strongly Democratic, and groom candidates for eventual runs at higher office. This strategy paid huge dividends in 1994 when governorships, state houses, and both houses of Congress were eaten up by the GOP.

Unfortunately, what it doesn't mean for James Carville and his buddies is more contracts. State parties and local candidates tend to hire local consultants and focus not on television ads, but on field activities and voter-to-voter outreach. That's what all his consternation is about.

For if it really was about principle, Carville would be going after Hillary just as hard as he's going after Dean. So, it's up to you, James. Are you ready to slam Hillary Clinton too, or will you back down? Your move.