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Dickinson writes: "Two weeks after Barack Obama won a second term, political analysts are just beginning to assess the surprising scope of his victory."

President Barack Obama during his victory speech. (photo: Guardian UK)
President Barack Obama during his victory speech. (photo: Guardian UK)

James Carville: 'How President Obama Won a Second Term'

By Tim Dickinson, Rolling Stone

22 November 12


Political strategist James Carville breaks down where the Republicans went wrong - and what it means for the future

wo weeks after Barack Obama won a second term, political analysts are just beginning to assess the surprising scope of his victory. By routing Mitt Romney by 332 to 206 in the Electoral College, Obama joins FDR, Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan as the only presidents of the past century to twice win more than 50 percent of the popular vote.

To unpack the significance of Obama's big win, Rolling Stone turned to one of the shrewdest observers of American politics: James Carville, the architect of Bill Clinton's election in 1992. Over the course of an hourlong interview, Carville traced the roots of Romney's collapse to the reactionary posturing required by the GOP primaries, and underscored the strategic blunders that sealed Romney's fate - including the Clint Eastwood debacle. "You can't control what happens in a debate," Carville says. "But you do get to control your convention - and they didn't control that."

Carville marvels that Romney, a businessman whose core sales pitch was competent management, entrusted his campaign to second-rate crony consultants who were so divorced from reality that they had him convinced to the bitter end that victory was all but assured. And looking to the future, Carville predicts that America could face a surprising role reversal in 2016: Democratic voters are likely to behave like the GOP base and fall into line behind a pre-anointed candidate, while Republicans will be forced to embrace a centrist agent of change - a Republican version of Carville's former boss.

In the primaries, Republican voters did their best to avoid picking Romney. Why were they so reluctant to gravitate toward him? They didn't gravitate to him in 2008, so why would they now?

Republicans tried going with everyone from Michele Bachmann to Rick Santorum. Have we ever seen someone like Herman Cain storm out of nowhere and lead the polls for weeks? Not in my memory. I think we came up with eight different front-runners.

Is that unprecedented?

This was like the most meandering river ever. But every time since 1948, it has always wound up going to the obvious person. Even the sainted Reagan didn't get it in '76. If you are making a model of mathematical certainty based on past results, there was no doubt that Romney was going to get it. It was never not to be.

For Democrats, the good news is, we won the election. And for people who like to be entertained, the really good news is that Marcus Bachmann is coming back as a congressional spouse. He was my favorite character ever. He and Cain's adviser, Mark Block, who is the only person I've ever known in history who was banned by court order from the profession of political consulting. Even Dick Morris couldn't get banned! If you're banned from frickin' political consulting, that's it: You're a dude!

Was there anybody else in the field, a Gingrich or a Santorum, who could have done a better job against Obama in this race? I really don't think so. It's the Republican brand more than it's Mitt Romney. And the Republican brand made him jump through a lot of hoops that he wouldn't have wanted to or wouldn't have had to.

So Romney's goose was already cooked by the time the primaries were over? From 1968 to 1988, not counting the freak election after Watergate, the Democrats lost the popular vote. Then Clinton came along and said, "We're going to change things a bit." They moved to shed some of the Sixties without changing the basic function of the party. So from 1992, Republicans have won the popular vote only one time. We went one for six, and now they've gone one for six. You have to ask yourself: Can we declare a trend here?

There's a reason that Jeb Bush or Chris Christie or Mitch Daniels didn't run: They just couldn't do it. They knew what they had to do, and deep down inside, they didn't have it in them.

You mean to take all those crazy positions demanded by the GOP base? You had to be against any kind of immigration reform. You had to be not just skeptical of global warming, you had to deny it even exists. You almost weren't even allowed to be for evolution. When you were asked if you'd accept $1 in tax increases for $10 in spending cuts, you couldn't raise your hand. They couldn't do anything.

In 2016, they're going to change, because they have to. It might only be cosmetic, but they're going to want to win. There's going to be a different dynamic - it will be the first time since '48 that there's not an obvious front-runner.

Romney's perfectly adaptable to be whatever the voters wanted him to be. Why didn't he just run as a moderate truth teller, a successful businessman? He couldn't win the primary if he did that. And he couldn't raise the money he needed to if he did that.

His shift to the right was linked to raising money? The people the Republicans have to raise money from are as crazy as the people that vote in the primaries. Their contributors are as wacky as their base.

Like Who?

Well, Foster Friess, just to name one. Put an aspirin between your knees for birth control?

Friess was the patron of Santorum, just like Sheldon Adelson was the patron of Gingrich. Did all that Super PAC money hurt Romney in a big way? The way that it hurt him is this: He raised a lot of primary money, but he couldn't save it to spend on the general election. So once he got out of the primary, when he was exhausted and his hands were down, the Obama people just cold-cocked him - the same thing the Bush people did to Kerry in 2004. They got a good definition out on him, and he wasn't able to deal with that until the first debate.

The speculation now is, "Why didn't he just write himself a check after the primaries until his fundraising got up to steam?" He could have just written himself a check on whatever he was short. The man is worth at least $250 million - $50 million ain't going to break him.

So all that Super PAC money helped Obama more than it helped Romney? Never have so few spent so much to accomplish so little. We all freak out that the money in politics is going to change everything. As it turned out, it really didn't change much.

What was Romney's strategy during the general election? How'd he plan to win? His plan was to come across as a little more moderate in the first debate. After that, they concluded - and you could just see it - that their base would stay energized against Obama, and the economy would cause enough people to say, "Oh, we just can't give him a second term." In debates two and three, they looked like they were trying not to mess up what they had - just to come across as not too conservative.

Why was the first debate so damaging for Obama? There were no key gaffes, nothing jumped out as terrible. It's not that it was damaging to Obama, it's that it was helpful to Romney. People looked at him and he was more aggressive and more moderate than people thought. Obama just didn't look like he wanted to be there.

Or be president. Right. I'm dying to read the inside book as to what happened. I do know, almost for certain, that he prepped and he prepped well, and there was some meeting right before he went in. Who knows if they changed the strategy at the last minute, but it was not a good change.

After that debate, Romney started lying flamboyantly. Can you recall a candidate more at ease with twisting the truth? No - and by the way, neither did the fact-checkers. Of all the Pinocchios given in the campaign to both candidates, Romney got something like 60 percent of them. I don't doubt that he's honest in his dealings with his family, but I don't think the lying even affects him - I don't think he thinks about it. He said, "I'll just say it - who cares?"

Where does that come from? Is it marketing - just going where the market is? It's all about "We're doing the country a favor - we know how to lead the country. And in politics, everybody's got to say things, so we'll just say whatever we've got to say, and that's the way it is." Deep down in Romney's heart, some inner recesses of whatever, he just doesn't think that truth-telling is a big part of the whole thing.

Does that come from his dad's experience? George got into trouble for telling the truth. I don't know - that's a different skill set than I have. That's for a psychiatrist somewhere. What I do know is that people would just keep pointing it out, and he'd just keep on going.

Remember, for Obama, there was a great strategic dilemma as to whether to present Romney as a flip-flopper or as someone who is for the rich guy. You had to pick one, and they picked "for the rich guy." If you're going to be successful in politics, you have to pick one. One of the great statements of the Kerry campaign was when they said, "We have a nuanced and layered message." It can't be nuanced and layered and be a message - it just can't.

The best thing Romney did was flip-flop in the first debate. If you flop to where people are, then they like you. Let's say that somebody runs against gay marriage all their life, and you're for gay marriage, and then they come out for it. You don't say, "I don't trust him, he flipped his position." You say, "I like that, he changed his mind." In the research - and I know this because we did a lot of it - if you'd say that Romney was for all these crazy right-wing things, people would say, "He's more moderate than that, he doesn't believe that." They liked the fact that they couldn't trust him.

That's why the Obama campaign decided to focus on his history at Bain. Yeah. At the end, the message of the Bain stuff was: When he has to choose between you and his friends, he's going to choose his friends. I think that stuck with him pretty good.

Is that why the "47 percent" video was so damaging? The Republicans have been talking about makers and takers for a generation. Why was that moment so pivotal? Because it sounded like who people thought he was. In politics, the worst thing that can happen is to confirm an existing belief. People who saw the video believed he looked down on them, and they said, "That's the guy I knew he was." That's why the rape comments by Mourdock and Akin hurt him - because they reminded people of who the Republicans are.

Romney had a chance to change the narrative with his vice-presidential pick. He couldn't do that, because of the donors.

So he picked Ryan for the money?

The same thing - they had to get their money lined up and get the base all happy. Ryan accomplished all that. But in the end, I don't think Ryan got him a vote or cost him a vote. I really don't. If I look at how Obama performed in Wisconsin, it was as expected. I don't know if it would have made a difference if he would have picked Chris Christie or anybody else.

Let's talk about the Obama campaign. How did they manage to sustain their turnout in key states, despite not having people jazzed up like they were in 2008? They connected people in a way that had never been done before with Facebook. If they knew I was an undecided voter, they also knew I was in the Marine Corps, and they'd have a retired gunnery sergeant call me to get me to vote. It was way far above anything that's ever been tried in politics before. Political scientists will mine this data forever.

The other thing is that the Republican brand tends to get Democrats out, too. The Republicans are not the only people who can be enthusiastic. African-Americans, they were 13 percent of the vote. No one really thought that was going to happen.

How did the Republicans get so outclassed in terms of technology? In 2004, Rove dominated on that front. The most amazing story of the whole election was how personally shellshocked Romney was that he lost. They completely thought he was going to win. How can a man with a reputation of being data-driven, who does spreadsheets better than anybody in the world, be shocked that he lost? I can't wait to read the book as to what happened to Romney. It's stunning.

Part of it is how inefficiently they spent all the money they had. Conservatives have a point here: You give somebody too many resources, and they don't allocate them very well. The top people in the Romney campaign were paid $134 million in this election. The top consultants in the Obama campaign were paid $6 million. Democrats just spent their money smarter, better and with less nepotism or favoritism. It's stunning that a community organizer would be so much more efficient than a head of one of the largest private equity funds. As the rabbis have been saying for 5,000 years, "Go figure."

Did Hurricane Sandy seal the deal for Obama? In every election the Republicans lose, the excuses pile up. In '92, it was Perot. In '96, it was the GOP Congress. In 2008, it was McCain botching his reaction to Lehman Brothers. In 2012, it was Sandy. It's a convenient narrative. If you believe that, then you don't have to change anything - it allows you a kind of fantasy.

Even Democrats thought the Republicans would have more success in turning out people who hate Obama. But according to the numbers, Romney's vote may not even match McCain's. Why weren't people fired up and ready to go on the right-wing side? It looks like the turnout was a little down. What was surprising to me is the model they used for the white vote. The white vote in '08 was 74 percent of the vote, and that's what they were counting on this time. But according to population trends, the white vote should be 72 percent - and it actually came in at 72. And it will be under 70 in 2016. What the Republicans have is some form of a progressive disease, like diabetes - it's just going to keep getting worse until they address it.

The demographics are a creeping cancer for them, in other words. Yes. Every four years, the white vote goes to minus two - and it's picking up steam. From 1948 to 1992, it went from 91 to 87 percent. From '92 to 2016, it's going to go from 87 to 70.

Combine that with the youth vote. It was 54 percent for Kerry, and it was 66 for Obama in '08. This year it was 60 for Obama. Remember, the greatest predictor of how you're going to vote when you're 54 is how you voted when you're 24.

The Republicans don't have any choice but to deal with this. The question is how they deal with it. Older whites are like bloody marys when you have a hangover - you just have to go back to them, but eventually they're going to catch up with you. You go down to the hotel lobby and say, "I'm shaking - I have to have a bloody mary." The Republicans keep drinking them, and they're very productive in off years, like 2010.

But isn't that what we said when they lost in 2008? I was writing the obituary of the Republican Party after Obama won on the basis of those same demographic trends. The obituary was correct - but they're going to come back. At some point, there's going to be something like the Democratic Leadership Council that figures out how to obtain conservatism's aims through different language.

If you were giving them advice on how to reform, what would you tell them? The first thing is that they've got to cut a deal on immigration. They have to find a way to put the issue behind them. They don't have a lot of maneuvering room on things like gay marriage or abortion. The way these congressional districts have been drawn, a lot of Republicans can't make a deal and move forward, because they'll get beat in the primary. That's got them in a box. If you're a Democrat and Obama gives you permission, you can do anything you want. But nobody can give them permission - there's no person there.

I want to get your read on 2016. Who are the top five candidates on either side? The number-one issue for Republicans in 2016 will be, "Who can win the general election?" Not who is the most conservative, not who is the best they've got, but who can win the general. From a Democratic standpoint, the obsessive question is going to be, "Does Hillary run or not?" If she does, a lot of people are going to say, "We should act like Republicans."

There's going to be a lot of falling in line? Falling in line, yeah. Democrats fall in love and Republicans fall in line, but we might be the people who fall in line this time. Someone will run against her, of course, but it will be a tough case to make.

On their side, they need a Republican version of Bill Clinton in 1992, someone who can shed the old image of the party. If Jeb Bush had been named Jeb Smith, he would have changed that brand and been the nominee, and he probably would have won. That's the person I'd be most afraid of - Jeb Smith. Maybe somebody with that kind of skill will emerge.

Somebody like a Chris Christie? They hate Chris Christie. We have no idea how much they hate Chris Christie right now because of the Sandy stuff.

Do you think that will blow over for him? Who knows? I've seen my man, President Clinton, leave office, and now there's not a more popular person in the world.

What will be the deciding factor in 2016? Our party's fate, in a larger sense, is going to be tied up in what happens with the economy. The dominant issue in American politics is how you get the middle class back in the game. If recovery takes hold, the Democrats will be in a pretty commanding position.

Looking forward to the next few years, how does Obama spend his political capital now so he can build on this victory? The danger is whatever deal he makes to reduce the deficit. Since he doesn't have to run for re-election, he may want to seal his legacy with some sort of grand bargain. The problem is, deficit reduction is popular with the elites, but it's not that popular with the country. If he does this, he's going to have to work hard at telling people why this is good for them. your social media marketing partner


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+124 # brux 2012-11-23 14:18
Brilliant article, Carville is a sharpie.

> We all freak out that the money in politics is going to change everything. As it turned out, it really didn't change much.

The money is like a smart bomb ... maybe the technology is not there yet, but pretty soon it will be more focused and better aimed. We better not be complacent about money in politics.

I think Obama's poor performance sucked a lot of people into this race after they had all decided it was not a big deal or important. I could almost imagine this as being on purpose, but on purpose or not, I think it hugely energized Democrats.

The right wingers are nuts and people are actually starting to see it. Now the Democrat's danger is they will start to think they can do not wrong and return to their old pathetic loser ways. I hope Obama can push past that and get some real change.
+121 # NanFan 2012-11-23 14:49
Yes, great interview and insights.

My only hope now is that President Obama doesn't fall into the EU trap of choosing to reduce the budget by imposing austerity measures on the people of America who so desperately need SO much assistance. They need to be dug out of the mire they were pushed into by corrupt corporate actions that robbed their housing, took them into a fake war for nearly a decade that truly bankrupted the public and nearly the government, and they need to be protected from losing ANY Medicare, Social Security, or Medicaid. The Medicare and Social Security payments that all employees HAVE to pay has to be secured for them just as promised.

There are simple things that everyone thinks are so complicated: raise taxes on the rich, move Obamacare to single-payer (which can be a HUGE industry, by the way), and cut the DAMN military spending by at least 1/2. Do NOT buy into any more wars!! better not be just a four letter word this time. President Obama has nothing to lose if he does what he's promised, but he has much to lose if he doesn't.

I'm on my knees, but I'm getting up from praying to start working hard on being part of whatever activism I can to push "the people's" agenda.

+80 # doneasley 2012-11-23 17:41
Quoting NanFan:
My only hope now is that President Obama doesn't fall into the trap... There are simple things that everyone thinks are so complicated: raise taxes on the rich, move Obamacare to single-payer (which can be a HUGE industry, by the way), and cut the DAMN military spending by at least 1/2... I'm on my knees, but I'm getting up from praying to start working...

I'm with you Nan. I still don't understand why Social Security is under discussion as a solution for deficit reduction when SS HAS NOT CONTRIBUTED ONE CENT TO THE DEFICIT. In fact, the general budget has "borrowed" (read stolen) 2.5 Trillion from SS. The solution for SS and Medicare is to remove the Max Contribution ceiling, but in the absence of common sense, Congress would rather raise the retirement age. Which makes you wonder just who are they afraid of, the millions of taxpayers or Grover Norquist?

And when it comes to military spending, we're maintaining 11, count them, ELEVEN CARRIER STRIKE GROUPS (the carrier and all of its attendant ships)! France and England just recently cooperated on ONE carrier, while China is building a carrier-killer missle! Are we talking massive overspending by the US military or am I missing something here?

But I digress from the main point. The "Community Organizer" won a huge victory over the "Business Experts", and now he has the opportunity to push the "people's agenda".
+19 # Regina 2012-11-24 12:00
SS is there because the Republicans want to kill it, period. The claim that this would help ease the deficit is as bogus as everything else promulgated by the TP contingent. And they know it -- they depend on naive-niks to fall for their hogwash.
+29 # indian weaver 2012-11-24 07:23
" ... took them into a fake war for nearly a decade that truly bankrupted the public and nearly the government..." The fact bandied about is that america borrowed over $800 billion from China / India to wage these b.s. "wars", money that went into the pockets of the War Machine to buy weapons of mass destruction. So in a way, we went into serious debt to launder that $800 billion + into private pockets and left The People to pay for it. That alone is a major source of resentment among The People, we who are horribly ripped off with these 2 police actions with no purpose except to make a lot of folks super rich.
+29 # Todd Williams 2012-11-24 09:41
I think Obama has nothing to lose if he doesn't do what he promised. The person who will have a lot to lose is the 2016 Democratic candidate whether it be Hillary or someone else. Obama needs to carry through with his promises, consolidate his base and make some real, long-term changes in this country. If I were Obama, I would go full steam ahead on environmental issues. These problems are not economic in nature, but are basic issues affecting the very survival of all lifeforms on the planet. Obama's legacy should be the man who helped save our planet. Nothing could be more worthwhile.
+2 # Silverstar 2012-11-26 08:00
> cut the DAMN military spending by at least 1/2. Do NOT buy into any more wars!! k budget"? That budget is MANY times the regular military budget. Politicians say black ops are top secret and absolutely necessary for "national security", but:
1) We're told we get attacked because the terrorists are jealous of our success, yet Norway ranks way above us on many indices and they don't get attacked. Nations get attacked when they abuse other nations. American business is the bully on the playground taking the smaller kids' lunch money. Being attacked is good for the military machine, which sucks the money out of the 99% and puts it into the pockets of the 1%.
2) Few American citizens or even politicians know much about the black budget. This money is supposed to protect us yet is being used to build drones that spy on terrorists AND on Americans, and to build a massive data center in the midwest capable of eves-dropping on every phone conversation and email exchange of half the world, including U.S. citizens. That's what the Patriot Act and the Indefinite Detention Amendment of the 2011 NDAA are all about.

It's time to get all donations out of campaigning, cut the black budget by 80%, stop being the internat'l police so we can bring ALL our troops home, and tax the hell out of the people who profited from the blood of our troops in unnecessary invasions like Viet Nam, Iraq & Afghanistan.
+31 # George D 2012-11-23 17:45
[quote name="brux"]Bri lliant article, Carville is a sharpie.

> We all freak out that the money in politics is going to change everything. As it turned out, it really didn't change much...."

I thought the same thing with one important caveat; You need to have "enough" money to thwart the other side.

I think money mattered a lot more than you or I know. A good investigative report would be one that showed how the money was used. When Republicans tried to thwart voting, did Dems have the cash to hire buses to take people to a far off voting place? If Romney hadn't "carpet bombed" his primary opponents with negative ads, might we have enjoyed the fun of a Perry, Cain, Santorum or Newt during the election?

Obama, with race against him, the economy against him and a few of his own serious blunders (debate-1) bested Mitt because the Obama team used their money wisely, and Mitt had truly nothing to offer. The truth about Mitt was made early and all he did was confirm it thoughout the election and since.

I wouldn't have predicted this win, but there were signs that I shared in this forum that pointed that way. A good friend and die-hard Bush supporter, confessed that he couldn't vote for Romney and threw away his vote on an unknown. To know my friend, is to know how telling that event was.
+4 # John Escher 2012-11-25 17:33
He is a sharpie. I knew it when we had our ice on the windshield wipers conversation at the bottom of High Knob Mountain in Virginia. But when you see him on the talk shows it's always for a "bite." He himself makes the wonderful distinction in this interview between "message" and something that's "layered." (Reality, I would suggest.) It's great that the interview here gives him more time and space. He really does know the difference between reality and message, and so we say he has a shrewd political mind but unlike many of that type is an interesting (and shrewd) human being at the same time.
+64 # brux 2012-11-23 14:25
> What will be the deciding factor in 2016? Our party's fate, in a larger sense, is going to be tied up in what happens with the economy. The dominant issue in American politics is how you get the middle class back in the game. If recovery takes hold, the Democrats will be in a pretty commanding position.

This is why Republicans are setting up for obstruction to force Obama to make a grand bargain ... and it will not be good for the people if he does, and he will not be well remembered, but if he does nothing, same thing only worse.

How do we redefine America outside the of the cages that Republicans and Democrats have put us in, and will Obama even be thinking in this way?

We need to know what happened during Bush's term really ... why did Bush and the Republicans crash the budget, the debt and the economy on purpose ... this has to get out, if there is a reason, they have to cop to it and American's have to decide. They said deficits don't matter and shoved us already record debt to killing debt - why? Why? Why?
+38 # doneasley 2012-11-23 19:53
Quoting brux:
>... why did Bush and the Republicans crash the budget, the debt and the economy on purpose ... this has to get out, if there is a reason, they have to cop to it and American's have to decide. They said deficits don't matter and shoved us already record debt to killing debt - why? Why? Why?

Brux, Bush and the GOP "crashed the budget... on purpose" because they saw the handwriting on the wall. With the changing American demographics (getting browner) they sought to peddle their "Trickle Down" economic theory, putting as much cash into the pockets of rich white men before the electorate got wise to their scheme - even if it did cause hardship for many and put America in a bad way financially. Otherwise how do you explain giving a $45,000 tax cut to a millionaire while sending $300 checks to Average Joe? If Romney had been elected and so many states under GOP control, they would've been in position to complete their mission. They would have completely shredded the Social Safety Net. As it is, they still remain in position to thwart any moves that President Obama wants to make.

You continue to ask "Why? Why? Why?" because you want to believe that they are dealing on the up and up, but these guys are dealing from the bottom of the deck. When you look at the GOP leadership (Bush, CHENEY, Rumsfeld, Norquist, Limbaugh, Hannity, Romney, Gingrich et al), you're looking at the face of EVIL!!!
-8 # brux 2012-11-24 00:14
I always wonder why it is that people try to make clever insights about character of those who write whatever comments?

> because you want to believe that they are dealing on the up and up, but these guys are dealing from the bottom of the deck.

You don't know what I believe, because it is not that, and your pretending to know or talking to me like that just spoils any interest or intention I have to discuss it with you. What's the matter with you?
+64 # ganymede 2012-11-23 14:28
Thank you James Carville for being such a great political analyst and all round funny guy. I just don't understand how you can be married to such a reactionary woman, Mary Maitalin - I'd love to be a fly on the wall during your discussions with her!

I'm sure I'm not alone in saying that I have the utmost confidence in President Obama to carry out the will of the people. It was the energies and muscle of We the progressive liberal People that got Obama re-elected and he must know that we're going to be very upset if we don't see serious economic reform; the true creation of the best universal health care system in the world; a big reduction in our warmongering ways; a final put down of the bullying from the stupid, malevolent rightwingers; a real 'Manhattan' project to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels; humane immigration reform, etc, etc.. The Romney caper was the last gasp of the greedy knownothings who have never done anything positive for our country. They won't be coming back either because the demographics have turned completely against them. But, Mr President, if you want to be the next Lincoln, who saved our country from the modern slavemasters, you had better get your act together because we will be totally on your case if you don't.
-25 # brux 2012-11-23 16:27
That relationship has got to all be about sex ... who doesn't want to screw Republicans like they have been screwing the country? She probably just goes on and on until he is so worked up he goes nuts on her, and she loves it!

As far as having a lot of confidence in Obama to carry out the will of the people ... maybe that explains how you are not so perceptive. It's healthy to have a bit of cynicism when it comes to politics, particularly when you expect a tiger to completely change his stripe from one term to the next.

I think no one wants to be the next Lincoln because they will probably end up like him.
+9 # Regina 2012-11-24 12:06
James Carville and Mary Matalin are the living proof of the fact that there's more to life than politics. They and their daughters are a great family.
+5 # bingers 2012-11-25 16:58
Quoting Regina:
James Carville and Mary Matalin are the living proof of the fact that there's more to life than politics. They and their daughters are a great family.

Who would have thought it? But he is a bit of a mad man, in the good sense, and to deal with Mary Matalin you have to be a little mad.
+10 # Ray Kondrasuk 2012-11-23 14:35
In the month before the election here in Wisconsin, I saved all the political postal ads.

Three were pro-Democrat; more than seven times as many were anti-Baldwin or anti-Obama.
Obviously, those twenty-three shiny, colorful pro-Republican cards proved insufficient.

GOP shortcomings surfaced, too, in the Family Circle Magazine's tally of more than 9,000 responses to the October posting of Michelle Obama's "White and Dark Chocolate Cookies"
recipe against Ann Romney's "M&M Cookies"; readers found Michelle's tastier by 287 votes. Had Ann but enriched her count from the called-for 2/3 cup of the famous candied chocolates to a full cup, she might well have been the new First Lady come January 2013.

The key to a next-election Republican victory: more mailings, and more M & Ms.
+13 # AMLLLLL 2012-11-23 16:02
If they had vanilla M&M's Ann probably wouldn't mind having more of them...
+19 # moby doug 2012-11-24 09:20
The Koch Bros. $ may not have won Wisconsin for the GOP, but it DID win control of the Wisconsin Senate. So now the reactionary, unionbusting, Walker admin. also completely controls the legislature. There are a huge number of red states which now have Repig governors AND Repig legislatures. They will be unionbusting, underfunding education, gerrymandering, etc. This is how the Citizen$ United decision of the Roberts Court, and the massive anonymous PAC $, hit the 2012 election.
+79 # kyzipster 2012-11-23 14:42
I believe it's entirely possible that Obama has won two terms because enough people understand that the economic crash of 2008 proved that the Republican ideology brought in by Reagan and embraced by both parties over the last 30 years is an undeniable failure. I haven't seen this pointed out anywhere.

The Democrats may share a lot of blame but they're obviously in a much better position to change course. Republicans are stuck, representing the top 1% and religious extremists and bigots of every persuasion.
+5 # brux 2012-11-23 15:36
> I haven't seen this pointed out anywhere.

Are you looking only in Republican blogsites? ;-)
+8 # kyzipster 2012-11-23 16:43, only liberal or neutral sources. I don't see where it's part of the debate in a meaningful way.
+3 # brux 2012-11-24 00:24
I hear it all over, everywhere BUT on right-leaning sources, and they are busy trying to extend the scam still.
0 # bingers 2012-11-25 17:00
Quoting kyzipster:, only liberal or neutral sources. I don't see where it's part of the debate in a meaningful way.

I've been saying it for years, including here many times.
+17 # aaheart 2012-11-23 23:42
The crash of 2008 was the result of the repeal of Glass-Steagall by Clinton and the GOP congress. Removing the fire wall against hedges and derivatives let overwhelming greed launch the fireworks that Congress and Bush permitted. Obama has not weighed in on the criminals in the financial world who grabbed their bonuses and ran.
+10 # kyzipster 2012-11-24 08:26
Yes, Clinton embraced this Reaganomics nonsense, I agree. It's the conservative movement of the last 30 years that we should be debating, political party is largely irrelevant.

I can remember Democrats proudly claiming to be "Reagan Democrats", you don't hear that line anymore, perhaps that's a start.
+2 # politicfix 2012-11-26 15:08
I think it's also important to remember that Clinton was responsible for NAFTA which has been a disaster. Hillary was against NAFTA when she was running. Clinton also spends a lot of time with Bush Senior. GWB said he's referred to as the 4th brother. Clinton also pardoned Marc Rich before leaving office which he took a lot of criticism. Clinton is a conservative Democrat. Personally, I think he's a lot of things to a lot of people depending on who he's with at the time. That's not what the country needs at this time....more conservative influence.
+47 # JH Gordon 2012-11-23 14:47
A key phrase in this article was very important to me. "In the primaries, Republican voters did their best to avoid picking Romney."

Nobody's asking "Who chooses these guys?" And it all gets back to the money. Those who have it, do all the choosing.

I'm all for the Justice Party which is a movement to take the money out of politics. I hope someday soon we'll federally fund elections and get rid of the PAC, Wall Street, Madison Avenue, and a whole lot of BS. We need more, new, better candidates and they ain't necessarily rich. In fact it'd be refreshing to see some live on their salaries. We need public servants who understand the Constitution and Bill of Rights is a job description.

JH Gordon on Kindle
+46 # barryg 2012-11-23 15:05
Repubs wee so shocked the lost because they could not hack the vote in Ohio and other states as they did in 2004 and 2008. They have not honestly won an election since George the First. Thank Anonymous for that. But you see here that Carville can not acknowledge that.
+42 # reiverpacific 2012-11-23 15:14
In short, blinkered and tunnel-vision Reactionaries did themselves in and are unlikely to change, -ever-, in spite of the evidence of their own red-misted eyes, well-compensate d statisticians (or maybe they just to cleave to Rssmunssen) and the ever more rainbow and gender-hued voting demographic.
Read some of those types that post on and infest RSN for example and examine the intent. Insult not inform, no content or ideas. Staus-quo or nothing, inferred racism, Obama is a socialist and not American, Health Care is a privilege, not a human right, poor people and the unemployed are leeches, pull yourselves up by the bootstraps-even if you don't have any boots, S.S. and Medicare are for the weak and needy, war is good, corporations create jobs, progressives are un-American, Unions are burdens on the wealthy ---------need I continue? It's all so predictable.
This is a good analysis using recent history by a real insider (with a Republican spouse). I especially liked his bit explaining why "Jeb Bush or Chris Christie or Mitch Daniels didn't run": I've often wondered that myself and he explains it succinctly and clearly.
Quite encouraging in a away if we keep after Obama with a critical mass, reminding him why he's there.
+63 # df312 2012-11-23 15:16
Chris Christie is probably the most electable Repub right now. He went from Jersey Clown to Mr. OK in a big hurry. Romney was actually no businessman. He was a financial finagler who never had to court and maintain a client/customer base, or survive in a competitive market. He played money games, and if everyone else got hurt, oh well, he still raked it in. I live in Salt Lake City and there are thousands of Romney clones here, slick "business types" who feign utter respectability but lie and cheat like no one else. He is so used to being the unassailable patriarch that he was obviously unsettled and disturbed if anyone dared question him about anything. Glad he's gone, hope he stays that way.
+31 # mdhome 2012-11-23 22:50
Yes, RoMoney never ran a business, he did calculations to figure how to remove money from business that had been built up by someone else. That is in no way to run a country and I am thanking everyone who voted for Obama, but I still worry Obama is going too easy on the republicans, We need to steamroller them before they recover.
+21 # mrbadexample 2012-11-23 15:38
The Repubs are busy forming up their traditional circular firing squads. They're not going to get anybody who isn't towing the 1% line that funders like the Koch Brothers or Adelson want to advance. And come 2016, neither Christie nor Rubio will have a chance in Hell--Christie is thisclose to a Willie-Horton scandal, and Rubio is going to be sidelined by all the prevarications he's made over the years to burnish his immigrant past.

I'm not sure that either party survives the next four years--if Obama cuts a 'grand bargain', he and his supporters will be vilified for throwing away the New Deal. The Tea Party guys and the Country Club GOP clearly can't stay in the same tent--the former are too embarrassing for the latter.
+11 # mdhome 2012-11-23 22:53
GOP = G reedy O bsolete P arty. It sure looks like they are circling the drain, they have nobody to rally around who can energize a majority.
+57 # Lina Cramer 2012-11-23 15:54
I find it amazing that so many male pundits fail to focus on the significant GENDER GAP - in the election
President Obama received 55% of the female vote. Vastly more than Romney. This percentage is strong and growing. Yes immigration is important. Yes gay rights are important. AND yes women's rights are equally important.
+43 # genierae 2012-11-23 17:39
Amen Lina Cramer. We are now in a second wave women's movement, I was there the first time, it changed my life forever. We will see more and more women winning elections, and the more females in office the better off this world will be. There's no stopping us now!
+48 # rjashm 2012-11-23 16:01
Carvelle at his best. But a comment posted re $ and politics is incomplete. While the big money spent in the general election was not effective, look at local and state elections. Conservative $ has put Republicans in power in state, county and municipal elections. This $ is responsible for the demise of unions, unfair voting laws, and the weakening of education in the states. We need to end unlimited funding of elections.
-26 # Tigre1 2012-11-23 16:16
I haven't paid much attention to Carville for many years. What's he done for anybody lately?

I understand he's a dutiful husband and father. And yes, the analysis was interesting. And yes again, I don't trust him in anything very important.

After action opinion is OK, though.

I sure wish he'd married someone else. Maybe he will someday. Until then I don't trust him with anything political to do with the future, or plans, or ideals, even...
-43 # Oged Orekyeh 2012-11-23 17:03
I salute and congratulate you.
My take is you have not factored in the "GOD Factor". One of the greatest malice in our world today is the group-think that refuses to admit GOD in the affairs of His creation. Without divine intelligence, the best our 'New World Order/One World Government technocrats that run the globe will be chaotic. You highlighted this. These 'warmongering' globalists like Bush & Co have their hidden agendas. The end point does not rest with Obama. In 1973, Jimmy Carter reached this verdict. He informed on this. Think about the enigma. "How can a peanut farmer from Atlanta marshal the huge resources to win the White House. The truth is that 'Data miners, big money, political strategists, technology technocrats...e tc,etc,etc did play vital parts in Obama's victory.What you did not say is the part played by the "Electoral College". Did you factor the enormous security risks, the Rommney family would cost the budget. Check the history of the family statistics of the past presidents. The trend is too close to be a mere coincidence. Again ask Jimmy Carter. This world is too fragile to be run by a one-man gang. Biblical and spiritual data mining tells us about powers that uses human puppets to accomplish their crafty purposes. This mob are the forces that enthrones world elites. Believe this or not. Ask Henry Kissinger. I can go on and on.One ancient wisdom shouts. History repeats itself without GOD's Intervention.
+16 # genierae 2012-11-23 18:01
There is divine intelligence in every human heart, but in this secular country "God" is an individual choice. Religion cannot be forced upon a democracy and traditional religion is actually dying out. Young people are going the spiritual route, finding their own unique way of relating to higher power. The tradition of churches and established doctrine only get in their way. Consciousness is what is needed, and once we get some light, a glimpse of our divine essence, we are on our way to the new birth. As we find peace in our hearts, we bring peace to the world around us.
+11 # Texas Aggie 2012-11-23 23:28
You do realize that you aren't making a whole lot of sense, don't you? You do realize that one of the main factors responsible for the preeminence of the US is that it used to be the go to nation for technology, and technology is based on science, don't you? The mainstay of science is that it describes the world as it is. A supernatural being has no place in science because science has been explaining how reality works without the need for some omnipotent sky god.
+2 # Silverstar 2012-11-26 08:41
@ Texas Aggie - Unfortunately, our schools are still teaching science pretty much as it was in the late 1800's. Einstein was an incredible genius and a scientist to the core and he believed in an intelligent source behind the universe based on what he found via science, but our schools don't teach this.

I say an "intelligent source" because the word "god" has too many layers of dogma heaped on it and most people are too indoctrinated with it to be able to detach from all the dogma. However, if you do a lot of science oriented reading, you'll see that it is becoming clear that religion and science are coming at the same truth from two opposing directions. What is "True" are the parts where the two overlap.

Early religions were trying to explain the origin of the earth and the nature of man with language that was too primitive to succeed. Early spiritual understanding was always co-opted by people who turned spirituality into religion in order in order to gain power and wealth. Now that we have the language of today's technology, we have metaphors that can explain what early religions tried to but couldn't. If you read much about particle physics, you'll see that many scientists believe in an intelligent creator force, but it's not anything like the "God" that most religions teach. What confounds most people who claim "God" is unjust or cruel is that people have free will.
Source does not = "god". Spirituality does not = religion.
0 # genierae 2012-11-26 10:07
Well said, Silverstar!
+1 # Tje_Chiwara 2012-11-26 15:57
Ah yes . . . the GOD factor . . I guess it's pretty obvious that God guided the Republicans to gerrymander so many districts to preserve their Dog in The Manger status, and has created Global Warming to test the true intelligence of the latest great apes on the planet, and probably even helped that lunatic put together the film about Mohammed about the same time he (or she) decided to let Chris Stevenson die a miserable death in a country he loved. Yes, God works in mysterious ways . . . but I am not sure it is very helpful to think that we understand or "factor" any of them into some silly analysis.
+1 # Saberoff 2012-11-23 17:43
Hello again, RSN.

Thank you for restoring the comment font to readable (darker) status (if you did).

It's baaaack! It's much better!
+24 # genierae 2012-11-23 18:04
James Carville is a canny observer of the political world and a very engaging personality. He also has a good heart, and so it's not surprising that his Republican wife loves him.
0 # Vern Radul 2012-11-23 18:37
He won again because he was the best the MIC could field to further their aims while co-opting the left.

Romney - nor any other republican - would never have had a hope in hell of ding what Obama gets away with so easily.

More people now have more hope for more real change they can believe in than ever before.
+16 # rstratton 2012-11-23 19:11
This was a very good analysis of why Romney could not put up a con sufficient get elected. His comment on the 57% and his comment on self deportation reveled his true character.
+13 # reiverpacific 2012-11-23 22:25
@ "Oged Orekyeh".
I don't know where you got your nom de plume but it sounds very like Lakota or Irish Gaelic language to me.
*Now there's a good source for asking your God why the fuck the "Black Robes": carrying the Wasicu "God" and their God only, tried to wipe them out with diseased blankets, poisoned alcohol, wiping out their means of sustenance the buffalo, and in the case of the Navaho/Paiute peoples. ruining their Orange groves and blasting off Appalachian mountaintops for the military/ industrial death machine.
Your God must be a Republican if you can swallow that shit -and it's only the tip of the melting iceberg.
Please keep the God factor out of a secular forum that begins with reason and tries to penetrate the ever-thicker murk of those who would justify dominion over others by theological rationalization.
Sincerely, an ol' sinner still trying to improve his understanding of "All my relations" (MetakuyeOyasin ), without resorting to biblical-based babble, or opium -much the same thing if you really get down to their escapism quotient.
It's a much wider world in a tiny Goldilocks zone orbit than you (or I) can realize.
Please be grateful for and defend what we've got.
+12 # Texas Aggie 2012-11-23 23:24
" he's going to have to work hard at telling people why this is good for them."

The hardest part is that austerity is NOT going to be good for people. Europe is a basket case right now because they are shutting down their economies by going austere. If we borrow now to get the economy going, we will have the money to pay back the bonds later. If, on the other hand, we never get the economy going, we won't have the money to even pay our daily expenditures.
+9 # hoodwinkednomore 2012-11-23 23:42
I agree, reiverpacific. I am grateful for what I/we have got. I am grateful to the humble, hardworking, courageous, loving, genius proletariat who built what we have in this country; and for the labor of millions before the (mad) industrializati on of this nation/world. I recently was honored to have witnessed Pharoah Sanders play & sing in NYC with his beautifully talented musical partners. God is in him. Truly. Because he has devoted his life to finding (the) God in himself. Please leave 'God' out of your so-called analysis of why Mr. twice- elected Pesident Barack Obama is President again. The Republicans lost the white house b/c Romney is out of touch with reality completely; and b/c Ryan is a nutjob.
+14 # doginsuds 2012-11-23 23:53
It isn't Brain Surgery. A lot of people have felt cheated by the last thirty years of Republican Trickle down, (yes white men like me, too) and if Romney had won, it would have been a coup de grace in favor of corporations, and perhaps the end of The United States itself.
+19 # medusa 2012-11-23 23:56
How often and how easily Romney told lies.
In public debate he was rude, and treated our elected President with contempt.
Who would vote for such a person?
+8 # genierae 2012-11-24 10:28
Fools and blockheads?
+5 # bingers 2012-11-25 17:05
Quoting genierae:
Fools and blockheads?

Absolutely. Sad there are so many in America. In a sane country he wouldn't have gotten 100 votes.
+11 # independentmind 2012-11-24 20:16
Closet racists mostly. What amazes me is how many otherwise intelligent people did vote for him, and believe the lies (or ignored them) and how many people that would have lost a lot of their benefits if he had won, voted for him too. Many businessmen believed his "business experience" statements. He NEVER ran a company, EVER, only took the money and ran. You would think that savvy and successful small business people would understand that, but they don't. Go figure...
+1 # politicfix 2012-11-26 14:44
Carville has never been fond of Obama. So he goes to all this trouble to write a synopsis of how the GOP could have won the election? All these know it all who come out after the fact are pretty much irrelevent. Who needs Carville's two cents now?
+2 # politicfix 2012-11-26 15:00
If Carvelle read about the Mormon religion he would see that lying is acceptable in some cases.

They refer to it as Lying for the Lord. It's part of Romney's belief system. A handy vehicle if you're running for office.
0 # natalierosen 2012-12-03 15:41
Great analysis. I agree with all of it. As to the economy as the driver for 2016 I say this: Obama's answer to Republican party of 1% is NO GO if taxes are not increased on the wealthy. These are NOT big tax increases.

Republicans need to get and the president should stress if they do NOT take him up on his offer most especially revenues from those making $250,000 or more then Republicans WILL guaranteed lose their hold on the House in 2014. They ALREADY lost 10 seats in a gerrymandered House they should have won. The Tea Baggies are TOAST and the House IF no bargain which includes taxing the rich is not agreed to by Republicans then they lose big time and THIS time Democrats will get what they want!!

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