Just this morning, I found out from none other than a fella by the name of Chris Cillizza, who writes something called "The Fix,” that there was a “full-scale Democratic freakout” about Hillary’s campaign. Well, that was news to me, but Mr. Cillizza was kind enough to provide a link as evidence....Question: Does anybody edit that newspaper? Could The Washington Post please get any high school student editor in the Washington Metroplex to read its stories and determine if they even pass the laugh test?The media frenzy surrounding Hillary Clinton’s email is bordering on ridiculous. In my life, I’ve seen a lot of “nervous Democrat” stories. I have been a Democrat for some time – finding a “nervous Democrat” is about as hard as finding a drunk in the French Quarter.
Carville made many of those same points during an appearance on MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports" on Wednesday afternoon. "He quotes a guy who talks to a guy," Carville says of me. "This Mr. Breezos, who's running that sweatshop out there in Seattle, needs to go on 15th Street where The Washington Post is and get this place in order. There's nobody editing that newspaper as far as I can see." (Breezos! We assume he means Post owner Jeff Bezos.)
(Sidebar: Carville makes for amazing TV. You should watch the whole four-plus minute interview, which includes a Carville impersonation of whining babies.)
Carville's argument is simple: I am dumb and wrong. In particular, he takes issue with the piece I wrote Tuesday raising the possibility that Hillary Clinton might just not be that good a candidate. In it, I use the phrase "full-scale Democratic freakout" to describe the worries among many Democrats about how her campaign has gone thus far. Those words are hyperlinked to a story by The Post's Anne Gearan, Karen Tumulty and Dan Balz that ran Monday with the headline, "Backers fear old weaknesses stalk Clinton campaign."
Anne, Karen and Dan aren't the only ones to write a story about the hand-wringing going on in the Democratic Party at the moment. Politico's Annie Karni wrote a piece on Wednesday titled "Allies fault Hillary Clinton's response on e-mails." Lots of other news organizations have quoted Democrats — some named, some unnamed — fretting about Clinton.
Carville's response to that fact is almost certainly: So what? More reporters writing bad stories doesn't tell you anything about anything. And it certainly doesn't prove that Clinton is in any political danger from these e-mail stories or that the fretting of a handful of Democrats means anything in the larger scope of the race. "Stupid media people talking to other stupid media people” is how Carville put it in his TV interview Wednesday.
Okay. It is beyond question that Carville is a better political strategist than I am. He's elected someone president. I have not.
1. Yes, I quote a few unnamed strategists in my piece. But the characterization Carville uses of "a guy who talked to a guy" is not right. The people I quoted in my piece are top-level Democratic Party strategists with absolutely no ax to grind against Clinton. These are not minor players. They are major players. And I also quote Dan Pfeiffer, a former senior adviser to President Obama, on the record in the piece as saying that Hillary Clinton is like Scottie Pippen to Bill Clinton's and Barack Obama's Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson.
2. James doesn't get to decide what is credible and not credible as it relates to worries within the Democratic Party about Clinton. He might well think none of the hubbub about the e-mail server matters at all. And he might be right. But just because he and the people he talks to don't think it's a big deal doesn't mean no one except stupid people have real worries about Clinton's handling of this story and her candidacy more broadly. Perhaps the people he talks to about Clinton's issues aren't as candid with such a well-known Clinton adviser is they are with a journalist offering them anonymity.
3. Nowhere in my piece or the one that Anne, Karen and Dan wrote is there any insinuation that any of this is a death blow for Clinton's candidacy. His argument is that if the Clinton problems are so major, then why is she ahead of every Republican in the polls. To which I would say: (a) she is better known than almost every Republican at this point, (b) he knows full well the key to understanding polling is not any individual survey but the broader trend lines that become apparent over time. And those trend lines are unmistakably moving in the wrong direction for Clinton.
That does not mean she is in serious danger of losing the Democratic nomination. (She's not.) It doesn't even mean that she won't be elected president next November. She very well might be. All it means is that, at the moment, Clinton is struggling to get herself extricated from this e-mail story, and the aggregate of polling suggests it is hurting her image with voters.
Am I an idiot? Possibly. (See: Trump, Donald.) But Carville isn't really arguing with me. He's arguing with the idea that people in his own party are nervous about Hillary Clinton right now.
Which they are — whether he likes it or not.