Tuesday, June 08, 2021
James Carville's Warning to Democrats on Crime: "Own the issue or it will own you."
I first became familiar with James Carville back in the early 2000s when he was on Crossfire. Those were the show’s thunderdome days, when the cameras soared over the cohosts and tense music blared in the background and the whole setup seemed like an answer to a question no one in human history had ever asked: “What The McLaughlin Group were directed by Michael Bay?” Carville was one of the “from the left” hosts whereas I was a young conservative, and I remember being irritated by his pugnacity. I also remember noticing that he sometimes wore jeans underneath the desk.
Today, Carville is something like a begrudged eminence grise of the Democratic Party. No one can dispute that he won that 1992 election for Bill Clinton, but then Democrats have about as much interest in reviving the Clinton years as they do in taking cues from Grover Cleveland. The party has moved on. Yet Carville is still there and he has developed a penchant for telling difficult truths. That’s what he did in the Wall Street Journal last week when he took up an issue no one else on the left wants to talk about: crime.
There’s a lot to object to in Carville’s piece, starting with its headline, “Democrats Are the Anticrime Party” (uh-huh). Carville all but credits Bill Clinton with the steep drop in crime that occurred during the 1990s even though the reasons for that plunge still aren’t fully understood. He attacks Donald Trump because the crime rate increased on his watch even though Trump had little control over that and in some places violent crime had already been going up for years (Baltimore’s murder rate, for example, jumped following the Freddie Gray riots in 2015). He claims that Trump is part and parcel of this crime wave, that he “broke laws, obstructed justice,” which is…rich coming from a signed-in-blood Clintonista.
Still, it’s hard to argue with Carville when he warns Democrats not to “pivot on crime. Own the issue or the issue will own you.” The man surely remembers the tough Democratic losses of the 1970s and ’80s when the far left was exerting influence and the party was seen as being too soft on social pathologies. And with Trump having injected some steel into the GOP’s law and order plank, with violent crime spiking across the country and expected to grow worse over the summer as COVID restrictions lift, Carville is worried this could prove a possible road to recovery for an ailing Republican Party.
Read the rest here.