It may have looked like a Bill Clinton reunion tour, but it sounded like a Jimmy Carter pity party. Former Democratic operative George Stephanopoulos interviewed current Democratic operatives James Carville and Stan Greenberg on Tuesday's Good Morning America. All three did their very best to avoid gloomy predictions for Barack Obama or to blame the President for the reeling economy. In fact, the name of the current Democrat in the White House came up only once.
Stephanopoulos generically complained, "...A lot of people [are] losing faith that the politicians can make any difference at all." Pollster Greeberg preposterously insisted, "And, you know, people don't care about the last four years. They want to know what are you going to do to make a difference for my life?" [See video below. MP3 audio here.] Carville, without mentioning Obama, reminded, "[Americans] have lost 40 percent of net wealth in the...last four years."
Stephanopoulos began the segment by describing Carville and Greenberg as "two of my old friends" who "teamed up to help Bill Clinton become president 20 years ago." Of course, Stephanopoulos was a part of that team as well.
Viewers were alerted to this fact only because of Greenberg, who explained that "the three of us actually started with Bill Clinton."
Sounding a Carter-esque tone about how hard it is for anyone to govern, Stephanopoulos whined, "But, one of things you also see, Stan, is that a lot of people losing faith that the politicians can make any difference at all."
The only mention of Obama made by three Clinton guys came at the very end. Stephanopoulos wondered, "You both have been, at times, fairly critical of the Obama campaign. You think they're on track now?"
A transcript of the July 10 segment can be found below:
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GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: We got a lot more Wiggles coming up, but I'm back now with two of my old friends out with a brand new book, Democratic strategists James Carville, Stan Greenberg. They teamed up to help Bill Clinton become president 20 years ago. And now they've distilled everything they know from a career into a new book. It's the Middle Class, Stupid. Great to have you guys here.
STAN GREENBERG: It is great to be here.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What's it like following the Wiggles and previewing the Wiggles? That's what I like to know.
CARVILLE: I was lucky enough to have my 14-year-old daughter with me today. So, that was good that she got to see the Wiggles.
GREENBERG: In all my years, the best introduction we could possibly have.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That is good. Now, you guys are not humble people. I mean, you're humble people. But you're proud of your accomplishments. Yet you start off the book with a very simple sentence. We failed. What does that mean?
GREENBERG: Well, you know, when the three of us actually started with Bill Clinton, who spoke about the forgotten the forgotten middle class, you know, the starting point was working people ought to be rewarded. That's the American purpose, dream. Our parents had it, passed it on to us. But it is really tough out there. When we talk to people- and this is a reminder. When we talk to people, you know, they are-- you know focus groups? You know how often people break down crying because of what they've had to do to bring their lives together, you know, to jery-rig it to get through the tough economy. And, so-
STEPHANOPOULOS: And there's a new survey, I just read this morning, James, that talked about the American dream just falling away for so many people. Right now- We used to believe, boy, if you're born poor, you can work your way up. If you're born middle-class, you can work your way up. For more and more people, that's just not true anymore.
CARVILLE: Yeah, I think out of the 30 industrialized nations, we're 26th in income mobility. That idea has not- as health care costs explode, cost of education explode, all these things happen. Incomes don't grow, it is rough. And Stan is exactly right. You just don't see people, you talk to people out there. It's really- They have lost 40 percent of net wealth in the last two- in the last four years.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We have got a lot of moms watching at home. And so much of that burden falls on them.
GREENBERG: For sure and they know it. I mean, they know the jobs today making less. They have less health care, less pensions. And the kids are coming back into the house. Or they're going and living back with their parents. So, everybody's kind of adjusting, readjusting, to get to a new place so they can rise. By the way, the reason we wrote this book is not so we can, you know, focus on that. We want to cry to the elites, both political and on Wall Street and say, listen to these people. You know, they want to know what you're going to do to make things better.
CARVILLE: And you made the point, these are people who played by the rules. These are people that got their training, that did the job. That, you know, honest, hard-working people. Bought a house. They're seeing their net worth go down substantially. They see the wages not increase. And in many instances, a lot of them have lost their jobs. And Stan's right, their children have come home. A lot of things have happened. They have had family disease. It's been almost impossible to pay for it. They couldn't get health insurance. We're seeing this across the country. It's a very, very, very sad thing to watch.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But, one of things you also see, Stan, is that a lot of people losing faith that the politicians can make any difference at all. They look at Washington and say, we are fed up with everything happening in Congress right now. No matter what happens in November, it's not going to make a difference.
GREENBERG: That's true. That's true. And one of the things we say here, is, you know, we have got to clean this thing up. You have got to start by cleaning up the money, the lobbyists. You gotta- People gotta trust again that this thing can work for the, you know, middle-class. But the other part of this is, we just can't give up. It's why we said at the beginning, we failed. But that's not good enough. You know, we can't fail because there is too much at stake. You know? America's a country, where the middle-class succeeds, hard work is rewarded. And we can't accept that. So, while it's true, people believe it, they're also paying a lot of attention. They want to see leaders who have a way forward.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You both have been, at times, fairly critical of the Obama campaign. You think they're on track now?
CARVILLE: Yeah, I do. We were both talking about that this morning. I think they've made- I think they're very aggressive. And I think that the President's message is a lot more honed on the middle-class, which we both think is important. Yes. I would describe myself as very pleased.
GREENBERG: Both on the middle class and on the future, because it's not about what we did. And, you know, people don't care about the last four years. They want to know what are you going to do to make a difference for my life?
STEPHANOPOULOS: You learn a lot about it. It's The Middle Class, Stupid. Thanks for coming on, guys.