Yesterday I wrote a blog entry explaining why Rush Limbaugh rooting for the President to fail was different than Carville’s comments back in 2001. As it turns out, Carville’s comments were even less like Rush’s upon comparison. After a little digging Greg Sargent uncovered the audio clip from Carville’s lunch meeting:
“People basically like this president as a person and they want him to succeed, but they have some pretty serious doubts that have not crept in but are sort of there. You have almost half the country saying he is in over his head. Over half the country saying he is for the powerful. And as much as I would like for it or wish for it, they are not going to pull away completely from him months into his administration.
“I don’t care if people like him or not, just so they don’t vote for him and his party. That is all I care about. I hope he doesn’t succeed, but I am a partisan democrat. But the average person wants him to succeed. It is his country, his life or their lives. So he has that going for him. There is a lot that is going to happen between now and next November. It is not that people don’t like him. It is not that people don’t want him to succeed but it is also not that he doesn’t have some serious underlying problems.”
The full quote, not provided by Fox, makes it pretty clear that he’s referring to Bush’s failure in purely a political sense instead of policy. This is of course natural that a person from one party would root against the political agenda of the president from the other party. After all, no one criticizes Republicans for bashing the spending Democrats have done nor do they bash Democrats for arguing against President Bush’ tax cuts.
But here’s the difference. Its very clear Rush wasn’t simply talking about Obama politically. His comments make it very clear that he’s rooting against his ability to navigate America through our current crisis. After the attacks on 9/11 Carville immediately retracted his comments and rallied behind the president. Rush didn’t do this. In fact he did the opposite by explicitly rooting for the failure of the stimulus bill:
“I disagree fervently with the people on our [Republican] side of the aisle who have caved and who say, ‘Well, I hope [President Obama] succeeds.’ … I hope Obama fails. Somebody’s gotta say it.”
“I want everything he’s doing to fail… I want the stimulus package to fail…. I do not want this to succeed.”
This is in addition to Rush’s comments that he hopes the stimulus bill prologues the recession.
Of course this isn’t the first time republicans rooted against a policy because they feared it would work, and disprove many of the arguments conservatives have made against the government. As you recall Bill Kristol made the same argument in his 1994 health care memo which urged conservatives to oppose the bill because it could actually work.
Oh and just to Note. Carville has an extensive record of supporting Bush on the war after 9/11:
* On October 9, 2001, Carville said to former President Bill Clinton at a speech (transcript accessed in the Nexis database): “I can’t tell you how proud I am of you as ex-president, in the support you’re giving this president, and support that you’re giving our country and the support that you’re giving the people who have been the victims of this terrible tragedy.”
* According to the Hotline (accessed via Nexis), The Christian Science Monitor reported that Carville said at a December 11, 2001, Monitor breakfast that Bush “is doing a good job on the war and Democrats ought to support him on the war. That doesn’t mean that this translates into support of his domestic policies. He is doing better on the war than I would have suspected under the circumstances. It don’t think it is like a total surprise. I did not think he would be a bad American. [But] he is doing probably worse on economic and domestic issues than I would have thought.”
* In a December 10, 2001, Democracy Corps memo, Carville — along with Democratic strategists Stan Greenberg and Bob Shrum — wrote: “Democrats can and should support the President abroad while standing up for their principles here at home.”
* In a November 13, 2001, Democracy Corps memo, Carville, Greenberg, and Shrum wrote: “It is important to support the President and set a tone that lacks a sharp partisan quality. Everyone is committed to the security and safety of the country. But Democrats should feel free to attack wrong-headed Republican congressional initiatives, even separating the House Republicans from the President.”