James Carville Slams Obama on Oil Spill: 'We're About to Die Down Here!' Stephanopoulos Still Spinning
ABC political strategist, and prominent Democrat, James Carville appeared on Wednesday's Good Morning America to condemn Barack Obama's response to the oil spill.
A very emotional Carville surprised host George Stephanopoulos, a friend and former colleague in the Clinton White House, by shouting, "And it just looks like he's not involved in this! Man, you have got to get down here and take control of this!" [Audio available here.]
Carville, a resident of Louisiana, attacked, "Put somebody in charge of this and get this thing moving! We're about to die down here!"
Stephanopoulos seemed taken aback by the instensity of his fellow Democrat and tried to spin for Obama: "Well, the President is going down on Friday. He's announcing these tighter new regulations on Thursday." The host implored, "What more can the President do here?"
Stephanopoulos, who was also talking to former Bush pollster Matthew Dowd, attempted to direct the conversation away from the spill in the Gulf and towards immigration. He gently pivoted, "Okay. You've answered that question."
But, Carville returned to the topic and, again, snapped, "The Attorney General needs to investigate criminal negligence on the part of BP and what went on at MMS. There are a thousand of things that [Obama] can do. He just needs to get down here and start doing something. People are dying!"
Stephanopoulos reiterated, "Okay. Well, the President is going to be there on Friday."
With a strong Democrat like James Carville blasting the President's handling of the oil spill, it may become difficult for journalists to continue covering for Obama on this subject.
A transcript of the May 26 segment, which aired at 7:06am EDT, follows:
STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, the White House denies any political motivation here. But, immigration and this oil spill have become two, big political headaches for the administration. So, let's bring in our political strategist, James Carville, worked for Bill Clinton. Matthew Dowd, pollster for George W. Bush, also some Democrats, as well. And, James, let's begin with the oil spill. Last week, even though you're an ally of President Obama, you blasted the White House. Said it was a lackadaisical response, said they were naive for trusting BP. And you went on to say that this is a disaster of the first magnitude. They have got to go to Plan B. Are we seeing Plan B now?
JAMES CARVILLE: Man, I hope so, George. Because, the political stupidity is unbelievable. Here, you have a situation, where you have some working- 11 working- hard-working people, blown up as the result of corporate malfeasance and maybe criminal negligence, as a result of inept bureaucrats who were part of the- you can actually blame the previous administration for this. And the President doesn't get down here in the middle of this. This thing should be- his approval should be up seven points right now if he had come down. I have no idea of why they didn't seize this thing. I have no idea of why their attitude was so hands-off-y here. It's just unbelievable. Now, I hope he sees it now, because very seldom do you get good politics and the really the right thing to do. And that is to get involved here.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, the President is going down on Friday. He's announcing these tighter new regulations on Thursday. Matthew Dowd, you lived through Katrina with President Bush. What we are seeing now, for the first time on this issue, a majority disapprove of how he's handling it. But, do you see this posing a Katrina-like threat, political threat to President Obama?
MATTHEW DOWD: Well, I think this incident that happened, the environmental disaster that happened, is another example for the American public that they can't trust corporations and big government to protect them. And I think ultimately, it will be a real political problem. It hasn't affected his numbers yet. But, James is right. In a disaster like this, his numbers should be going up. Not just staying stagnant. And, ultimately, I think the country right now is so frustrated on a lot of things. This is just another example where they say, "What is government doing? And what can they do well?" We have disasters. And we're seeming to be on Plan G "
STEPHANOPOULOS: But, let me ask both of you this: What more can the President do here? He didn't-
CARVILLE: George! George! George! The President of the United States could have come down here. He could have been involved with the families of these 11 people. He could have commandeered the things. We could have sent the Woods Hole people. He could have sent the Scripps on research vessels in the Gulf of Mexico. He could have implemented a plan in anticipation of this. You know, right, he can't exactly fill the hole up. Last night I was on Larry King, the CEO, the former CEO of the Shell. They said they got 85 percent of the stuff cleaned up in the Gulf of Saudi Arabia. He could be commandeering tankers and making BP bring tankers in and clean this up. They could the deploying people to the coast right now. He could be deploying people to the coast. He could be with the corps of engineers and the Coast Guard with these people in Plaquemines Parish, doing something about these regulations. These people are crying. They're begging for something down here. And it just looks like he's not involved in this! Man, you have got to get down here and take control of this! Put somebody in charge of this and get this thing moving! We're about to die down here!
STEPHANOPOULOS: Okay. You've answered that question. Let me turn to Matthew Dowd on immigration. Another big political wave heading toward the President, announcing these new troops towards the border. Will this be enough to stem this political wave that's coming right at him?
DOWD: No. Not at all. And, I mean, ultimately, this was a political move. He would not have done this but for what happened with Arizona and what's going on in the rest of the country. It's not just an Arizona problem. The rest of the country thinks the government is broken and can't- doesn't have an immigration policy. So, yeah. I think this is a symbolic act. It's not going to- 1,200 troops on the border that stretches from California to Texas is not going to do anything to stop drugs from coming over or stop the gang killings and all the things going on. It is symbolic. Presidencies, as James just said- Symbolism is very important. If you show up at a disaster, it's important. I think the symbolism here, it's not going to have substantive effect. But it is a political problem when the majority of the country supports what Arizona did.
STEPHANOPOULOS, And clearly, James, the Arizona member of Congress, Gabrielle Gifford, who announces he's happy with what the President is announcing. But, the President has also got to manage a lot of others in his Democratic base, who are concerned that the push for comprehensive immigration reform may stall.
CARVILLE: He does. It's a heck of a problem. I'm not exactly sure if you hear conflicting things. Some think that the crime rate in Arizona is down, with the number of illegals into Arizona is down over a period of time. I have no idea what the facts are. But, obviously, they have some problem on their border. They really feel that way. This is an area of great frustration. And he's doing something. Hopefully this works. But, man, he's got to- the other thing he needs to do. They need to launch a criminal investigation. The Attorney General needs to investigate criminal negligence on the part of BP and what went on at MMS. There are a thousand of things that he can do. He just needs to get down here and start doing something. People are dying!
STEPHANOPOULOS: Okay. Well, the President is going to be there on Friday. Thank you both for your passion and insight this morning.