Why I Don’t Care About What Paul Begala or James Carville Think About Anything
Stunningly, It Could Have Been Worse
Michael Berube reminds us, in the wake of South Dakota’s brand spanking new abortion ban, about how the reactionary vanity candidate who handed the 2000 election to George Bush was saying at the time about how little difference it made who occupied the White House, while repeating the myth that overturning Roe "would just send the issue back to the states" and wouldn’t result in any major restrictions on choice. Oh-oh spaghetti-o’s! (In fairness, though, I too wouldn’t label Nader a "closet" cultural conservative; actually, he’s quite open about it.)
Still, despite my unyielding contempt for Nader, even I was sympathetic to one argument advanced by some friends who voted for him: their revulsion at putting a check next to Joe Lieberman’s name. I can’t deny that this was hard to stomach. What’s amazing, though, is Michael’s archival find–the alternative suggestion advanced at the time by Paul Begala and James Carville, the Democratic Party’s self-appointed saviors:
By choosing former Georgia governor Zell Miller as his running mate, Al Gore could add intellectual brainpower, rhetorical firepower, and lots of plain old populist piss-and-vinegar to this staid election.
Miller would bring to the ticket a compelling personal story. In an election in which the final four candidates were the sons of a bank president, an admiral, a senator, and a president, Zell Miller was the son of a teacher–a teacher who died when Miller was just two weeks old. Raised by his mother in Appalachia, in a rock house she built herself, Miller found his focus in the United States Marine Corps, and his unabashed patriotism, combined with his down-home populism, makes him an American classic.
Zell Miller is also a world-class campaigner and orator. His keynote address to the 1992 Democratic convention ranks with Barbara Jordan’s and Mario Cuomo’s as one of the finest examples of powerful rhetoric and partisan passion.
At a time when politics seems moribund, Zell would bring energy. When people are looking for heroes, Zell’s the real thing. And when Democrats need someone who’s not afraid to open up a can of whupass on the radical right, they need look no further than Zell Miller.
Oh yes, what a fantastic idea for the 2000 ticket–the right-wing-even-for-a-Republican-Senator-Zell Miller. (At least Holy Joe has a nominally decent voting record.) I suppose one person’s "down-home populism" is another person’s vile Dixiecrat demagoguery, but frankly I thought that this was kind of "powerful rhetoric" the Democrats abandoned after LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act. (I can’t deny Miller’s "partisan passion," but generally one prefers it not to be directed against one’s own ticket.) Anyway, I’m not sure it’s possible for me to give less credence to their support of take-our-word-for-it "populist" Bob Casey Jr., but I certainly am not going to modify my position on the issue. That Begala is telling anyone who will listen what a great catch Casey is counts as another strike against him in my book….
[Cross-posted to L, G & M.]