This is a birthday card to James Carville, on a day when polls show most Americans rejecting the negative campaigns and the spin-mongering that he has been such a part of. The gift your countrymen and women bring you is an early retirement. Looking around at our country today, I'm happy to say your dubious services are no longer needed.
We all like to point fingers at Karl Rove and Lee Atwater and their ilk on the right, but goddamn if no single figure better embodies the ugly political stalemate of the past 20 years than you, Jimbo. During roughly the same period as your comfortable rise to political and cultural prominence, Democrats and Republicans have been engaged in a dysfuntional, co-dependednt relationship at the head of our national household. Your career arc parallels the unpleasant domestic drama this nation's family has been sucked into. The nasty pettiness has been going on for so long now that it's become as normalized as the air we breathe.
The meanness in our political life has left the whole extended family hooked on rage, taking sides in the country's custody battle and savaging each other in the process; or else numb and self-medicating with a raft-load of flat screen TVs and better-faster video games, disposable luxury items and McHomes we can't afford, all financed with easy credit as part of Mommy and Daddy's big irresponsible real estate Ponzi scheme. Everyone's either pissed off, numb, or both.
And now it turns out every last member of the family has to dig deep into their life savings to pay off Mommy and Daddy's debts, before the Chinese bookies and Saudi mob start leaning in a little too hard, before the whole American estate is in the hands of the repo man.
What does this unseemly relationship have to do with you, Mr. Ragin' Cajun? Well, you represent the whole shady deal, the anti-social contract; you literally have a compact with the enemy, sleeping every night with your bride, the Republican consultant and conservative media wheel-greaser Mary Matalin. Your mutual bank accounts have grown fat as you pad your resumes with the dumb show of political bashing and character assassination. Every time the discussion around the nation's dinner table turns ugly, and someone gets up and has to be restrained from taking a swing at Grandpa or little sis, your calculator registers another ka-ching. You're like Punch n' Judy, playing at a fight to pocket some coin, working both sides of the street. You're not loyal to any real ideas or values, just true to the Game, and the rewards to be reaped from playing it -- and us -- for all it's worth.
You came up in lockstep with the Democratic Leadership Council, the crowd that Bill Clinton chaired and which pushed the Democratic Party way to the right, watered down its natural affinity for human issues, and espoused a divisive and utilitarian politics of getting to 270 electoral votes while writing off half the country. In ceasing to talk to everyone, the Democratic brand came to look good to almost no one. The DLC was to the Party as New Coke was to the most popular brand of all time -- an ill-conceived rebranding effort that tasted like crap. And you were the National Head of Sales.
With Obama and Howard Dean ignoring your narrow tactics, and abandoning the DLC's pinched strategy, they have more states in play, more regions thinking about Democratic messages, more people engaged than ever. Suddenly, what's losing for the Republicans is the very way of doing business tat you have always espoused. The only thing that's been bipartisan is the dysfunction. But Obama and Dean have put a end to that, employing a 50-state strategy and talking to Joe the PLumber with respect and honesty, let the chips fall where they may. Now now the choice we face is between a Democratic politics of substance and respect, or a Republican brand stuck in the muck of distraction-and-destruction.
It looks from here like Americans are just plain fed up with the mean streak you and Mary and Karl and Lee and the rest of you have displayed in your Crossfires and your campaigns and all over the airwaves and the book tours.
You know, we couldn't help but notice that you didn't approve of the boyfriend that sis brought home this year -- maybe he seemed threatening because he wasn't like you, Big Daddy. Listen: Rage is no longer all the rage, dude. "It's the economy, stupid" is fine, unless people don't want to be stupid anymore. Some inspiring words and a steady hand, a combination of humility and big goals -- well, this Obama kid is just what we need around here. The house is a shambles, and we've got work to do. Serious people with patience and good will only need apply for what the American family has to deal with next.
Not your strong suits, you say? That's cool. So why not pack up the hounds and the wife and move to the mountains. You might find that you and Mary and all your spiritual kin have used up most of the nation's good will, as well as our wallets.
Happy Birthday, bud. Listen, Hillary and Chelsea can totally stay with us. But take Bill with you, OK -- you guys can get drunk and cuss and stuff.