Mr. Carville's America

Washington Times  7.01.97
Balint Vazsonyi

Recently, James Carville set up shop on the Internet to discredit Dan Burton, chairman of the House Committee on Reform and Government Oversight. He must have needed some diversion between bouts of beating up on Kenneth Starr - an activity now resumed in the light of recent Supreme Court decisions. Since Mr. Carville spares no effort to "educate and inform" America, perhaps America ought to be educated and informed about Mr. Carville.

The logical source is his book We're Right, They're Wrong, written as campaign literature for the 1996 elections. But Mr. Carville reveals greater ambitions. One of these is to take on Ronald Reagan. The other: to put his entire philosophy on display.

Mr. Carville sees this world divided "between people who believe that education, training, work and opportunity" - which , he claims, come from government programs - "are the essential ingredients to building a stronger and more prosperous nation; and people who don't." He holds that work and training for work "are the values that built this country." He disapproves of "lectures from selfish airheads about the way the country was founded and what the Constitution really means." Among his listed principles we find: "...each and every group that resides [in the] United States, must have a chance to live a safe and comfortable life." For him "The concept of progressive taxation...is nonnegotiable." This above all: "Promoting work and training for work should be the first domestic priority of government." Indeed, emphatic notice is served early in the book that "...the most sacred thing you can render in this world is your labor."

Such pointed references to labor or work make one curious. Mr. Carville does not reveal the origins of his thinking. He pays homage to his mother - "Miss Nippy" - and most often he quotes Robert Reich, then Secretary of Labor (here's that word again), but there had to be more. Where?

Unexpectedly, the word popped up in a documentary about the Third Reich, atop a cast-iron gate: "Labor makes Free!" Perhaps Mr. Carville is not aware of this connection. He ought to be. If one follows the branches, they lead to the root. Eventually, via the original Program of the National Socialist German Workers' Party, we arrive at Marx's Manifesto of the Communist Party. There, in second place, right after "The Confiscation of all Real Property" is the progressive income tax both Karl Marx and Mr. Carville hold "nonnegotiable." (Clinton's "School-to-Work" is No.10 on Marx's list.)

Yet, I am not suggesting that Mr. Carville is a Marxist, even though he uses the rhetoric of class warfare and adopts many of the ideas. I think Mr. Carville might be confused. For example, he encounters a number of challenges in his use of the word "we." Mr. Carville is a professional political consultant, yet he talks down others in that occupation. Then he writes, "...the vast majority of us are going nowhere...," yet he boasts about the "enormous amount of money" he gets for speeches. He states that "The Reagan years were a god-awful disaster" [his italics] then tells us "We won the Cold War." Since this "we" is unlikely to imply President Reagan, is Mr. Gorbachev his partner in victory?

I do not believe Mr. Carville is a Marxist because he speaks with great warmth and nostalgia about the decades following World War II when this nation experienced "an unbelievable cycle of prosperity," when "we talked about the same things, we went to the same schools, we shared the same experiences," when families were families, when health care was affordable and we were on the way to serious progress in race relations. He correctly identifies the time - the late 1960's - when the tragic reversal occurred in every one of these areas. But while he mourns the loss, he cannot see the reasons. As for remedies, spending more money on more government programs is all he can recommend.

Mr. Carville is among the many who suffer from Compartmentalized Brain Syndrome, CBS for short. Information is received in various compartments of the brain, but traffic between them is suspended. The sufferer is prevented from making logical associations, such as the massive intervention of the Great Society programs that arrested the "unbelievable cycle of prosperity;" the advent of multi-culturalism that destroyed our schools; the wholesale assault on the family by judicial activism; the effect of Medicare on health care costs; and the betrayal by affirmative action of people's genuine desire for integration.

The result is that Mr. Carville mistakes education, training, work and government-sponsored opportunity for the corner stones of a strong nation. But such statements merely confirm insufficient familiarity with history, which Mr. Carville describes as "mumbo jumbo." He does mention the Founding Fathers, however. Were he to pursue that course of inquiry, he would discover that which truly distinguished this nation from others. Above all, it was the rule of law. It was the right to acquire and hold property. It was government by the consent of the governed. It was freedom and individual rights. The Founders said nothing about groups. They said nothing about income tax, progressive or otherwise. What they did say is there for all to see in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Federalist Papers.

The Founders knew about morality. Mr. Carville, too, worries about morality and concedes that, in order to reconstitute the family, we might have to do a certain amount of preaching. But, he says, there must be "a positive way to do this. We should have figured that out long ago."

We have, Mr. Carville. It is called the Ten Commandments.