Unskilled at finding ways to win!

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 28, 2021

Carville discusses Our Town: Is James Carville right about every point?

There's a good chance he isn't! That said, his interview with Sean Illing at Vox is crowded with food for thought.

In reviewing that interview, we'd start with a basic point. Our Town has a  hard time grasping the following point. Here's what Carville said:

CARVILLE (4/27/21): We won the White House against a world-historical buffoon. And we came within 42,000 votes of losing. We lost congressional seats. We didn’t pick up state legislatures.

Those are painful observations, but they're extremely right on. They're tied to other observations Carville made about our political system. 

The observations which follow are blindingly obvious. But, despite the  brilliance we tend to attribute to ourselves, we sometimes have a very hard time getting clear on what they mean:

CARVILLE: If Democrats want power, they have to win in a country where 18 percent of the population controls 52 percent of the Senate seats. That’s a fact. That’s not changing. That’s what this whole damn thing is about.

[...]

Here’s the deal: No matter how you look at the map, the only way Democrats can hold power is to build on their coalition, and that will have to include more rural white voters from across the country. Democrats are never going to win a majority of these voters. That’s the reality. But the difference between getting beat 80 to 20 and [getting beat] 72 to 28 is all the difference in the world.

So they just have to lose by less—that's all.

At present, fundamental structures of our political system tilt the playing field against liberal voters and against liberal coalitions. 

That includes the system of "Senate math" to which Carville refers. It also includes the current arrangement in which Democrats produce massive amounts of "wasted votes" in such states as California and New York. 

Because of the "wasted vote" phenomenon, Biden won the national popular vote by more than 7 million votes, but came within those 42,000 votes of losing the electoral college to Trump. These are the basic realities of the situation we face. 

Here in Our Town, we have a hard time getting clear on the meaning of these facts. According to Carville, those unfortunate facts mean that Democrats have to seek votes among rural whites.

As we all know, rural whites are lesser beings. But we have to seek votes among them.

In those parts of the interview, Carville sketches out the basic facts of our political dilemma. In other parts of the interview, he describes the ways he thinks we fail to win elections in the face of those facts.

Carville goes hard on our alleged problems with "wokeness" and "faculty lounge politics." We actually think he misses one key point about the latter phenomenon:

ILLING: What do you make of Biden’s first 100 days?

CARVILLE: Honestly, if we’re just talking about Biden, it’s very difficult to find something to complain about. And to me his biggest attribute is that he’s not into “faculty lounge” politics.

ILLING: “Faculty lounge” politics?

CARVILLE: You ever get the sense that people in faculty lounges in fancy colleges use a different language than ordinary people? They come up with a word like “Latinx” that no one else uses. Or they use a phrase like “communities of color.” I don’t know anyone who speaks like that. I don’t know anyone who lives in a “community of color.” I know lots of white and Black and brown people and they all live in ... neighborhoods.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with these phrases. But this is not how people talk. This is not how voters talk. And doing it anyway is a signal that you’re talking one language and the people you want to vote for you are speaking another language. This stuff is harmless in one sense, but in another sense it’s not.

Different people will have different ideas about different phrases. For ourselves, we hate the "faculty lounge" formulation in which our elites now refer to "black bodies" as opposed to "black people."

The preciosity of the locution pretty much speaks for itself. It seems especially odd to speak that way, given the fact that it was long part of "the world the slaveholders made" to claim that this particular group of people weren't really people at all.

Why would anyone talk that way? Here's what Carville may have missed:

The adoption of such private language is done to signal membership in elites. If you speak that way, you're in the club. As Carville notes, you're also alienating other people who don't talk like that.

Other people don't talk like that in their various "spaces." They may think you're weird when you do.

Concerning the alleged problem of "wokeness," Carville offers this:

CARVILLE: Look at Florida. You now have Democrats saying Florida is a lost cause. Really? In 2018 in Florida, giving felons the right to vote got 64 percent. In 2020, a $15 minimum wage, which we have no chance of passing [federally], got 67 percent. Has anyone in the Democratic Party said maybe there’s nothing wrong with the state of Florida? Maybe the problem is the kind of campaigns we’re running?

If you gave me an environment in which the majority of voters wanted to expand the franchise to felons and raise the minimum wage, I should be able to win that. It’s certainly not a political environment I’m destined to lose in. But in Miami-Dade, all they talked about was "defunding the police" and Kamala Harris being the most liberal senator in the U.S. Senate. And if you look all across the Rio Grande Valley, we lost all kinds of solidly blue voters. And the faculty lounge bullshit is a big part of it.

As comment sections make clear, Our Town is full of people who can't understand why "defund the police" was such a tone-deaf slogan. There's really nothing you can do to help a person like that, and Our Town is full of such tone-deaf, self-assured persons.

One final point. Carville also offered these potentially dueling claims:

CARVILLE: Wokeness is a problem and everyone knows it. It’s hard to talk to anybody today—and I talk to lots of people in the Democratic Party—who doesn’t say this. But they don’t want to say it out loud.

[...]

People always say to me, “Why don’t Democrats just lie like Republicans?” Because if they did, our voters wouldn’t stand for it.

Are there really lots of people who "don't want to say it out loud?" We're going to guess that there are.

Way back when, Keith Olbermann was gleefully misogynizing, on a regular basis, with his smutty pal, Michael Musto. We wrote about it for years, marveling at the fact that other liberals weren't saying a word about it.

Then the transcripts of that private JournoList site were leaked. It turned out that our brave progressives were discussing Olbermann's "misogyny." They just wouldn't do so in public.

We'll guess that Our Town is crawling with people like that, and that there are all sorts of things these careerists aren't saying out loud. Meanwhile, "our voters wouldn't stand for lying?" Did Carville actually say that?

Our voters often don't know when they're being deceived or misled. In that way, our voters are much like theirs.

At present, our voters are being misled about race in various ways. But they don't know that they're being misled, and they seem fairly happy with it.

They're being misled by the stars of Our Town. We tend to adore the big stars of Our Town, just as they do Over There.


45 comments:

  1. Jeez, what a comedy: the "it's the economy, stupid" fella complaining about the wokeness and words his zombie cult uses.

    It's the economy, James Carville. No one, not a single working-class humyn being would vote for your globalist cult, evah. No matter what words your cult's priests utter.

    Agitating for race/gender wars is your cult's only strategy. And everyone knows it, dear James. Agitating for race/gender wars, hate-mongering goebbelsian media, and election fraud, to be precise.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
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  2. It is wrong for Democrats to try to win elections by becoming conservatives.

    Here is Carville saying that it is too difficult to win elections as Democrats. Over on the right, Republicans are scrambling because they cannot win elections themselves without suppressing Democratic votes, because the changing demographics of our nation are against them.

    Which is true? I would trust the Republican view that they cannot honestly win elections and continue to move aggressively to advance a Democratic agenda. I think we can trust Republicans to know their own self-interest, and when they behave like they cannot win, they are probably more right than James Carville.

    Republicans dominated down-ticket in 2020 because they have already been engaged in voter suppression, gerrymandering, and other non-policy tactics for winning. These are the tactics that need to be opposed -- not changing the Democratic platform and adopting Republican-pleasing campaign statements aimed at rural voters. We need to continue our GOTV efforts and voter registration, file those lawsuits and thwart Republican efforts to rig elections in their favor. And we need to continue to attack the vulnerable Republicans already in office, exposing the conspirators and clowns for what they are. There were not enough rural voters in Georgia to overcome Stacey Abrams's efforts -- these need to be replicated all over the country, while nurturing new Democratic candidates at local levels.

    Somerby would love it if the Democrats were to back off their advantages and try to become more Republican. It is what he has been urging all along, long before Carville made this particular statement. Carville is not a God and he isn't necessarily right about anything he says about elections these days.

    When Republicans are fearful and scrambling, as they are now, we know we are doing something right.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Carville is one of those clowns who think politics is a game, and there are no repercussions to elections, other than victory or loss for the two parties.

      Delete
  3. Carville says: "You ever get the sense that people in faculty lounges in fancy colleges use a different language than ordinary people? They come up with a word like “Latinx” that no one else uses. Or they use a phrase like “communities of color.” I don’t know anyone who speaks like that. I don’t know anyone who lives in a “community of color.” I know lots of white and Black and brown people and they all live in ... neighborhoods."

    He goes on to say that nobody outside of colleges talks like that. Neither does any politician. This is a straw man. Politicians addressing the people during a campaign use the same language as the voters they are wooing.

    There is a measure of language use called the fog factor. It changes radically depending on whether it is an election year or not (for both parties).

    ReplyDelete
  4. "Then the transcripts of that private JournoList site were leaked. It turned out that our brave progressives were discussing Olbermann's "misogyny." They just wouldn't do so in public."

    They were most likely not discussing it in public because it was not news. Journalists report news. Someone's misogyny is not news unless there is someone (besides the journalist) accusing him of it. Then the accusation can be reported. Journalists don't make news. They report news.

    ReplyDelete
  5. "If you gave me an environment in which the majority of voters wanted to expand the franchise to felons and raise the minimum wage, I should be able to win that. It’s certainly not a political environment I’m destined to lose in. But in Miami-Dade, all they talked about was "defunding the police" and Kamala Harris being the most liberal senator in the U.S. Senate. And if you look all across the Rio Grande Valley, we lost all kinds of solidly blue voters. And the faculty lounge bullshit is a big part of it."

    This is nonsense. Democrats lost the Cuban vote in FL because Trump took a hard line against Cuba whereas Obama had loosened relations and removed sanctions. Cuban expatriates want to see Cuba treated harshly. Biden promised to roll back Trump's actions. This isn't rocket science and it had nothing to do with defunding the police.

    In the Rio Grande Valley, there have long been tensions over recent immigrants (including border crossers and asylum seekers) and long-time Hispanic residents of the border areas. There is considerable anti-immigrant feeling among Hispanics there, unlike in other areas, because of the impact of those immigrants on those communities. Because Trump had enacted harsh policies toward interlopers, they were happy with his actions and rejected Biden's pro-immigrant stance. This too is not rocket science. And again, it had nothing to do with defunding the police. See the movie Lone Star for a taste of this attitude.

    Carville has an axe to grind. Somerby laps it up because Carville is saying he same stuff as Somerby has been saying, and because Carville is bashing liberals using conservative talking points.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Carville did not spend the last 4 years defending Donald Trump, Roy Moore, Devin Nunes, Matt Gaetz and Ron Johnson, the way Somerby did.

      Carville very likely wanted Trump to lose. Somerby, by contrast, is a Trumptard who wanted Trump to win.

      Delete
  6. Democrats don't have to become Republicans, but "Defund the Police" was the stupidest slogan ever. Also, overall, the Black Lives Matters movement has created a great momentum for social justice. However, I live in western Illinois and spent the summer and fall watching television ads for Iowa Senator Joni Ernst painting her opponent, Theresa Greenfield, as a far left wing, radical communist who wanted to turn the whole state over to a bunch of rioting thugs who were going to sweep in and destroy the entire country. Each ad was accompanied by appropriately scary video. With Iowa's huge rural and 90 percent white population, Greenfield didn't have a chance.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Defund the police was never a Democratic slogan. It was something chanted at BLM demonstrations. The Republicans then picked it up and used it to attack Democrats. Biden, for example, never supported defunding police, not even in its actual meaning. So calling this a slogan is a misnomer.

      Delete
    2. "...Defund the Police" was the stupidest slogan ever."

      Gaining leverage by limiting a group's funding will never work in a capitalist society.

      Sincerely,

      Those of Us Born Yesterday

      Delete
    3. No matter who came up with "Defund the Police," Democrats running in rural, white districts and states got saddled with it. Those running for Congress and the Senate in swing districts, who did not have a proven record or reputation to fight with got pilloried with negative ads from Republicans. Biden was able to overcome this because his opponent was a total and complete idiot and doofus, plus he had a reputation as an old white man that was hard to attack.

      Delete
    4. White people in rural districts like it when unarmed black people are killed for selling loosie cigarettes.
      There's a real "Stop the presses!" moment for you.

      Delete
    5. If Democrats don't give the right something to use in their ads, then Republicans just make stuff up. For example, Boebert (who is from a red rural district) made up that white people were not being allowed to get covid shots by the Democratic governor. This isn't happening because Democrats give them talking points. It is happening because rural Republican voters like to hear shit about Democrats. There is no chance whatsoever that they will vote Democrat.

      Delete
    6. A writer for the NY Post - Murdoch owned of course- just quit after admitting that she signed her name to a fake story about Kamala Harris that was fed to her by her editors. After publication the story made the rounds in the conservative blogosphere and traditional press including Murdoch’s Fox News where the talking heads were of course highly critical of Harris for the actions contrived by the Post editors. This is how the game is played by right wing propagandists. The mainstream press ignored it for quite some time when it should have been the intense focus of scrutiny. Of course, Bobbie here couldn’t give a crap.

      Delete
  7. We are supposedly unskilled at finding ways to win, and yet we have won. Had the 2016 election not been stolen by collusion with Russia, we would have won that one too. All this "Democrats in disarray" narrative espoused by Somerby only benefits conservatives. Don't listen!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Bob,
    Minus liberals Black people would still be slaves.
    You would be a rich, happy man.

    ReplyDelete
  9. After the lynching you and your buddy Tucker would enjoy the picnic; then go prancing through the park.

    A quick reminder: I have a gun.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Shorter version: liberal ideas win; liberal rhetoric...not so much. Need to close the gap.

    ReplyDelete
  11. It is important to remember that Somerby spent the last 4 years defending Donald Trump, Roy Moore, Ron Johnson, Matt Gaetz and Devin Nunes. By all appearances, he desperately wanted Trump to win, so he could bitch for the rest of his miserable, pathetic existence about 2000. Fortunately, since he lacks the audience to be a useful idiot for Trump, he ended up a useless idiot.

    So any comment he makes should be prefaced with the knowledge that he is a malignant Trumptard, whose goal is to get Trumpists to win.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's why Paul Krugman calls him to talk about why his posts are true.

      Delete
    2. You have only Somerby's word for this and we all know that he isn't exactly honest. I think those phone calls from Paul Krugman are as imaginary as his analysts and his nocturnal anthropologists.

      Delete
    3. If Krugman and Somerby agreed at all, that was likely 6+ years ago. Krugman did not defend Trump and spend 4+ years trying to get Trump to win, i.e. he is not a Trumptard. That alone means he does not agree with TDH

      Delete
    4. Another big problem is that, rather than explaining why you disagree with someone and why; people just assume someones worst intention with dubious insults. I've had many disagreements with Somerby over the years, and he can personify what he claims to condemn as far as what's left of our discourse goes. But that is what you are doing here.

      Delete
    5. I disagree with Somerby because he is a Trumptard who spent the last 4 years defending Donald Trump, Roy Moore, Ron Johnson, Matt Gaetz and Devin Nunes !

      Delete
  12. If only LBJ had had an advisor warning him “it’s the economy, stupid”, he wouldn’t have pushed those civil rights bills and driven the racists out of the Democratic Party and the Democrats would still own the country.

    Jim Crow would still be with us, but that would be a small price to pay.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Why the civil rights bills might have happened a generation earlier if they had been accompanied by the catchy slogan “Defund the Police”.

      Delete
    2. Civil rights is no doubt a big joke to you because you have yours.

      Delete
  13. “Is James Carville right about every point?”

    Carville is attacking “woke” liberals by...going on TV often. He is a fixture at MSNBC, including last night on Brian Williams’ show, where he got to use that prominent podium to continue his attack on “wokeness.” He has far more media access than those “professors” he rails about.

    But here at Somerby’s “media criticism” blog, we only hear about Carville’s attacks on liberals.

    This also flies in the face of the notion that “the media” only operate from pre-approved “woke” scripts.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The term "woke" originated with African Americans. Extending it to liberals and then attacking it is another way of undermining the efforts of black people to seek equal rights and justice in our country. It is another of those camouflaged white supremacist tactics. For the right, it is a two-fer.

      Delete
  14. The media are too awake to be woke enough to consider “defund the police” as being a winning argument. They might not mind it being done subtly, but don’t make it a political talking point.

    The media wants as much power as they can get ASAP. They are ideological, but not philosophical. The professors are both.

    This is why the media sees Bernie Sanders as a loser and not in their interest.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "The media wants as much power as they can get ASAP"

      Meh. The media are just the propaganda arm of the establishment. They don't have any power, they do what they are told.

      Delete
    2. No, the media does not.

      The media routinely leans on corporations and politicians as being their muscle men tasked with punishing media targets.

      Delete
    3. But how do the targets become targets?

      Do media owners decide to target someone just on a whim? Or, do you think they are ideological zealots, forcing their agenda?

      Take CNN, for example: it's owned by Turner Broadcasting, owned by WarnerMedia. WarnerMedia is a public company. Do you think its CEO is pushing his political preferences? I doubt it very much.

      Wikipedia says the current CEO, Jason Kilar, got the post on May 1 2020. We haven't noticed any change in the bullshit they're broadcasting. Is Jason Kilar a clone of the previous CEO?

      Delete
    4. Isn't there some conservative blog somewhere where you can work out these details?

      Delete
    5. Mao, the CEO is pushing his political preferences as to what he thinks will facilitate getting CNN into the markets of other counties and that will allow he and the guild he fosters to dictate what does and does not go.

      Delete
    6. Actually, I missed one: WarnerMedia is owned by AT&T.

      Strictly speaking, CEO's fiduciary duty is to act in the best interests of the shareholders. And I'm sure that's what they do.

      Among major AT&T shareholders are global financial companies: Vanguard Group ($7 trillion in global assets), BlackRock ($9 trillion), State Street ($3 trillion, US$38.8 trillion under custody and administration).

      According to wikipedia: "Along with Vanguard and BlackRock, State Street is considered one of the Big Three index funds that dominate corporate America". These are the owners of the US of A, the US establishment.

      Delete
    7. CEOs act in the best interest of CEOs, not shareholders. Looking at CEO pay, you can hardly say shareholders act in the best of shareholders.

      Delete
  15. Good work here, though, tiresome left academics are hardly the only ones who speak in their own language.

    ReplyDelete
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