Rush Limbaugh purported to favorably contrast his repeated statements that he wants President Obama to “fail” with Democratic strategist James Carville's statement -- prior to learning of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that “I hope [President Bush] doesn't succeed.” In fact, whereas Carville reportedly retracted his statement immediately upon learning of the terrorist attacks and subsequently urged Democrats to support Bush's anti-terrorism efforts, Limbaugh has repeated his desire to see Obama fail throughout the current economic crisis and has gone so far as to say that he “hope[s]” Obama's stimulus package “prolongs the recession.”
On March 11, Rush Limbaugh purported to favorably contrast his repeated statements that he wants President Obama to “fail” with a statement Democratic strategist James Carville made before learning of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks -- that “I hope [President Bush] doesn't succeed.” Limbaugh argued that his own statement was “purely uttered for the sake of my country” but that Carville's statement is evidence that “it is standard operating procedure for the Democrat Party to not do things in the best interests of the country.” In fact, whereas Carville reportedly retracted his statement immediately upon learning of the terrorists attacks and urged Democrats to support Bush's anti-terrorism efforts in the months that followed, Limbaugh made his statement amid the current economic crisis, has repeated his desire to see Obama fail several times since then, and has gone so far as to say that he “hope[s]” Obama's stimulus package "prolongs the recession."
On the morning of September 11, 2001 -- before learning of the terrorist attacks -- Carville said: “I don't care if people like him [Bush] or not, just so they don't vote for him and his party. That is all I care about. ... I hope he doesn't succeed, but I am a partisan democrat. But the average person wants him to succeed.” According to Fox News' Bill Sammon, “Minutes later, as news of the terrorist attacks reached the hotel conference room where the Democrats were having breakfast with the reporters, Carville announced: 'Disregard everything we just said! This changes everything!' ” Sammon reported on the same incident in an October 7, 2002, Washington Times article, writing:
Mr. Greenberg's phone rang, then Mr. Shrum's again, with the news that a second plane had hit the other tower. It looked like a coordinated attack by terrorists.
Before anyone else could leave, Mr. Carville was on his feet.
The cynical strategist, who had just described Washington as “a city that operates on fear,” suddenly felt a stab of worry about his wife -- in the White House this very moment -- and their two young daughters across town.
“Disregard everything we just said,” Corporal Cueball [Carville] commanded. “This changes everything.”
Asked on March 11 by CNN Situation Room host Wolf Blitzer about the 2001 comments, Carville contrasted his immediate retraction with Limbaugh's continued statements that he hopes Obama fails.
From CNN's transcript of the March 11 edition of The Situation Room:
CARVILLE: First of all, the guy that wrote that is Bill Sammon, and he works at Fox and I've always find him to be a straight guy. To be fair to me, I said, look, everything I said, I just said everything I said, I you know, given the circumstances, everything was changed. Thank God I had the good sense to realize the United States was at war, unlike Rush Limbaugh, who four times after he said it when the United States is at war fighting three different wars, kept insisting that he wanted the president to fail in a time of war. Again, I was pretty clear when I read that report, that Bill did report that I said that after I found out.
BLITZER: But let me just be precise, James. Did you say that morning, did you say that you hoped President Bush would fail?
CARVILLE: I don't know what I said that morning. I know him to be a reporter. Once I found out that the country was at war, I said I don't mean whatever I said, disregard it. I had the good sense, I presumably to the extent I can remember seven and a half years ago, to say that. And I was grateful he put that in.
Moreover, following the September 11 attacks, Carville repeatedly expressed support for Bush's anti-terrorism efforts and encouraged Democrats to do the same -- even while opposing Bush's domestic agenda.
- On October 9, 2001, Carville said to former President Bill Clinton at a speech (transcript accessed in the Nexis database): “I can't tell you how proud I am of you as ex-president, in the support you're giving this president, and support that you're giving our country and the support that you're giving the people who have been the victims of this terrible tragedy.”
- According to the Hotline (accessed via Nexis), The Christian Science Monitor reported that Carville said at a December 11, 2001, Monitor breakfast that Bush “is doing a good job on the war and Democrats ought to support him on the war. That doesn't mean that this translates into support of his domestic policies. He is doing better on the war than I would have suspected under the circumstances. It don't think it is like a total surprise. I did not think he would be a bad American. [But] he is doing probably worse on economic and domestic issues than I would have thought.”
- In a December 10, 2001, Democracy Corps memo, Carville -- along with Democratic strategists Stan Greenberg and Bob Shrum -- wrote: “Democrats can and should support the President abroad while standing up for their principles here at home.”
- In a November 13, 2001, Democracy Corps memo, Carville, Greenberg, and Shrum wrote: “It is important to support the President and set a tone that lacks a sharp partisan quality. Everyone is committed to the security and safety of the country. But Democrats should feel free to attack wrong-headed Republican congressional initiatives, even separating the House Republicans from the President.”
By contrast, Limbaugh has not retracted his January 16 statement about Obama -- made in the midst of the current economic crisis -- that “I hope he fails.” Rather, Limbaugh has defended the comment and repeated it. Indeed, while Carville repeatedly voiced his support for Bush's anti-terrorism efforts following the September 11 attacks, Limbaugh has made clear that his desire for Obama to fail extends to hoping that Obama's policies would actually hurt the American economy. On February 13 (subscription required), for example, Limbaugh said of Obama's stimulus package: “I hope it prolongs the recession.” During the same broadcast, Limbaugh said: “Of course I want Obama to fail. And after this stimulus bill package passes, I want it to fail.”
In his February 28 speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference, Limbaugh described "[t]his notion that I want the president to fail" as “nothing more than common sense.”
And as Media Matters for America documented, Limbaugh said on February 27: “The dirty little secret ... is that every Republican in this country wants Obama to fail but none of them have the guts to say so; I am willing to say it. We want him to fail because we want to preserve our country as we found it. We do not want to see a successful attack on capitalism.”
From the March 11 broadcast of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
LIMBAUGH: OK, it's finally been posted. I've been waiting for this. When I got in here to our broadcast complex this morning, there was an email here from Bill Sammon at Fox News. You know, he's the, he's the D.C. bureau chief there, and he said, Rush, I'm working on a piece here, I hope to have it ready by the time your show starts, and here it is. And I read this, and I just smiled. Mouth fell open a little bit, and I just smiled. And then Bill Sammon asked me for any input, would you like to reply to what I learned, so I sent him a note back. And the story has been posted at FoxNews.com, it's also linked, by the way, at the Drudge Report.
The headline, “Flashback: Carville Wanted Bush to Fail,” but that is only half the story. The press never reported that Democrat strategist James Carville said he wanted President Bush to fail before the September 11th terrorist attacks. But a feeding frenzy ensued when radio host Rush Limbaugh recently said that he wanted Obama's policies to fail.
Here you go folks, listen to this. On the morning of September 11th, 2001, just minutes before learning of the terror attacks on America, Democrat strategist James Carville was hoping for President Bush to fail, telling a group of Washington reporters quote: “I certainly hope he doesn't succeed.” Unquote. Carville was joined by Democrat pollster Stanley Greenberg, who seemed encouraged by a survey he had just completed that revealed public misgivings about the newly minted president. Greenberg admitted: “Well we rush into these focus groups with these doubts that people have about him, and I'm wanting them to turn against him.” Greenberg wanted to do a poll that would cause the American people to turn against Bush on the morning of 9-11.
You see the dirty little secret is that an honest utterance by me, purely uttered for the sake of my country, is turned into a scandal, and last week it was number two news item in this country, according to some media group. The economy was number one, I was the number two group. Yet it is standard operating procedure for the Democrat Party to not do things in the best interests of the country but rather in the best interests of their party. I am not the Republican Party, and I didn't say what I said for the benefit of the Republican Party. I said what I said because I love America and our people and I want everyone to succeed.
After Greenberg said, yeah, we rush into these focus groups with these doubts that people have about him and I'm wanting them to turn against him, I want the people to turn against Bush, Greenberg then said, with a chuckle: They don't want him to fail, I can't, I mean -- they think it matters that the president of the United States fails. So they -- the people in their focus groups did not want Bush to fail, but they turned around and ginned up -- or were prepared to gin up -- a bunch of research designed to convince the American people that Bush should fail and they did. You have to admit it.
However, minutes later, as news of the terror attacks reached the hotel conference room where all this was happening, Carville shouted to the media: Disregard everything we just said, disregard everything, these attacks change everything.
What'd they change it for, three weeks? What was it, three or four weeks? The Democrats: Bush isn't doing anything, Bush isn't responding. Three weeks and they were back on the case of Bush this and Bush that.
The press followed Carville's orders, never reporting his or Greenberg's desire for Bush to fail. That omission stands in stark contrast to the feeding frenzy that ensued when Limbaugh recently said he wanted Obama to fail. Here's what I told Bill Sammon in the piece, I said the difference between Carville and his ilk and me is that I care about what happens to my country. I'm not saying what I say for political advantage. I oppose actions such as Obama's socialist agenda that hurt my country. I deal in principles not polls. Carville, people like him, breathe political exploitation. This is all a game to them; it's not a game to me. I'm concerned about the well-being and survival of our nation. When has Carville ever advocated anything that would benefit the country at the expense of his party? That's what I told Bill Sammon. That's in the story. We've gotta take another obscene profit time out, thank you. Back after this.