Carville caught clutching pearls, worries Dems are losing white men to Trump’s “energy”…

Vince Rizzo
6 min readMar 24, 2024

Has the Ragin’ Cajun lost something off his fastball? Has retirement in the bayou with Mary softened that edge that railed against seemingly impossible odds? In Maureen Dowd’s almost weekly column in the NYTimes this week ( James Carville, the Cajun Who Can’t Stop Ragin’), she spotlights onetime presidential campaign strategist James Carville and his now continual warnings that Biden faces real problems in his reelection bid. Like Greek mythology’s Cassandra fated to tell the future but never to be believed, the Ragin’ Cajun sends out these forewarnings as if he thinks the rest of us are cocksure of a fall victory. James set aside your entrails. Hide those jangling worry beads. We have all followed the meandering polls, listened endlessly to the on-air pundits, and in the deep recesses of our beings have considered volunteering for Elon’s next Mars mission aboard one of his exploding cigar-like rockets. James needn’t remind us that Biden is old and suggesting that Trump somehow projects “energy.” We know the real danger and it is not that Biden stands in the way of a younger Democratic savior:

“Now don’t tell me that Biden has more energy or cognition than Trump because it’s evident that, yeah, Trump’s got word salads, but he projects energy,” Carville said. “He’s insane. He’s a criminal of the first order. But he does have a little timing and a little sense of humor and knows how to move from one story to the other.”

Biden clinging to power has eclipsed the other talent in the party

NYTimes, by Maureen Dowd

The last sentence rankles, especially since James is prone to spicey word salads of his own. Dowd refers us to Carville’s chops as a campaign advisor to Bill Clinton. Carville rightly can claim that victory as an achievement that bears remembering. He also can claim victory over Bibi Netanyahu as he was a key strategist to Ehud Barak who won a landslide victory over the current Israeli president. During the 1992 campaign against incumbent George Bush, Clinton faced “bimbo eruptions” and earned the nickname “Slick Willie” from the right for stories about his philandering. Carville coined the strategy that focused on three main talking points to counteract the GOP’s personal attacks (that later would rebloom into L’Affaire Lewinsky) — focus on youth and change vs. the older and more traditional Bush candidacy, tout health care, and repeat until the crawfish come home the now political snowclone “it’s the economy stupid!” Carville was at the top of his game.

But before he helped lead Clinton to the White House, recall that Carville was the man who first achieved political success advising Robert P. Casey who became Governor of Pennsylvania on his fourth try. Casey had lost the Democratic primary three times before Carville joined on and led his successful campaign against Bill Scranton III, son of William Scranton a popular governor and -presidential candidate for president in 1964. The Cajun’s closing TV ad in the campaign was of a younger Scranton practicing Transcendental Meditation. The now infamous ad ( was devastating and was credited with defeating “Billy three sticks” and gaining Casey the governorship in 1986:

“This television advertisement portrayed Scranton as having been a regular drug user in the 1960s and mocked Scranton’s interest in transcendental meditation and his ties to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The image of Scranton as a “long haired, dope-smoking hippie” is seen by political observers as having tipped the scales against Scranton in the socially conservative rural sections of Pennsylvania. Casey went on to win the election by a narrow margin of 79,216 out of 3.3 million votes cast…”

It is hard to disagree with Carville except to note that in this case the time to have found a younger version of Biden was in 2019 and not 2023, and no one stepped up to the plate at the time. Biden with a coalition of Democrats and independents led by women and an outpouring of minorities defeated Trump. Carville bemoans the party’s focus on women, especially, and the left, in general,

“If you listen to Democratic elites — NPR is my go-to place for that — the whole talk is about how women, and women of color, are going to decide this election. I’m like: ‘Well, 48 percent of the people that vote are males. Do you mind if they have some consideration?’”

- Dowd

While admitting to liking Biden, Carville let’s slip the secret of Biden’s success so far and the reason no other Democrats have stepped up to challenge him:

“I actually like Biden. He’s a tenacious guy that’s had a real life. He’s a state school guy. He doesn’t have an iota of elitism. He doesn’t even know what ‘woke’ is. He’s been demonstrably the best president that Black America’s ever had, Clinton and Obama included. You look at incomes, employment, poverty rates, access to health care. It’s not where whites are, but it’s closer than it’s ever been.”

The Cajun has one thing wrong, in this case, Biden like Robert P. Casey is a persistent son of a gun and both share a heritage coming from the hardscrabble politics practiced in and around Scranton, PA. The difference between Biden/Trump and Casey/Scranton III is that little came easy for the kids from Scranton, unlike their wealthier and pampered-from-birth opponents. Casey Sr.’s father was a former coal miner who worked the mines at age 10 before becoming a lawyer. Biden’s Pop was a car salesman and middle-class hero to his son, Joe. To be sure, neither Biden nor Casey would have wanted it any other way.

So Carville, and Dowd whose columns often have slighted Biden damning him with faint praise, forget that this is a player accustomed to being undervalued. Their complaints that his perception is in large part conditioned by detractors from within the party and the media. Biden’s age and the burdens that all of us past a certain age must bear because of its ravages are countered by his deeds. Biden’s work as president starkly contrasts Trump’s failed presidency and the pending results of his misdeeds in civil and criminal courts. While Carville speaks to our inner fear of what it would mean if Donald Trump succeeded in gaining a second term, he fails to recognize the genius of a younger and more politically agile strategist who once countered Republican attacks with far greater peril with a simple set of talking points that included a comparison of life under Trump vs, life under Biden, a defense of health care for women, and the refrain “it is still the economy, stupid!”- a talking point that in the end should resonate among those white men the Cajun is so worried about appealing to.

Carville seems to be clutching Dowd’s pearls in this column. They both discuss age in hushed tones as if to avoid its inevitability. I like to quote Mark Twain in times like these- I even like those sayings he might have or should have said. Here is one that if he didn’t say he could have: “Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many…” Many of us remember the pandemic and the “privilege” of life that was tested by Trump’s incompetence. A second term suggests more of the same given his doltishness. His limitations are far more troublesome than age. Those who worry about Biden growing old should consider another

“Worrying is like paying a debt you don’t owe.”

We should all worry, but less about Biden than about his alternative.


Originally published at



Vince Rizzo

Former president of the International Association of Laboratory Schools (IALS) and a founder of a charter school based on MI theory.