Latest Stories

Dem strategists focus on middle class in new book


This book cover image released by Blue Rider Press/Penguin Group shows "It's the Middle Class, Stupid!," by James Carville and Stan Greenberg. (AP Photo/Blue Rider Press/Penguin Group)

“It’s the Middle Class, Stupid!” (Blue Rider Press/Penguin Group), by James Carville and Stan Greenberg

Longtime Democratic political consultant James Carville and strategist Stan Greenberg have written a recipe for President Barack Obama’s re-election in their book, “It’s the Middle Class, Stupid!”

Neither is working directly for Obama. But their credentials are immense, and it was Carville, as an adviser to then-candidate Bill Clinton, who in 1992 led the charge with the slogan “It’s the economy, stupid!” — the campaign come-on that the book’s title apes.

Essentially, they’re saying the vast majority of Americans identify themselves as members of the middle class, and Americans are both savvier than politicians realize and more disaffected than ever. So, whether you believe the middle class is shrinking statistically or not, it’s up for grabs. And Democratic candidates are risking everything unless they immediately — and repeatedly — tell voters how they will cut the deficit, heal the economy and guarantee the long-term health of the middle class.

Carville’s and Greenberg’s recipe includes raising the tax rate on the highest incomes (but in line with what they see as a deep-seated American respect for financial success, not going after wealth itself); investing in education, research, infrastructure and innovation; and getting out of Afghanistan and similar conflicts. All this must be done, they say, with equal parts deficit cuts and tax increases.

To introduce their ideas, they present pages and pages of quotes from focus groups and numerous charts of demographic data, economic trends and survey responses. It’s all very timely, with references to Congressman Paul Ryan’s proposed federal budget, to what must happen “this fall” and to the health care reforms the pair would pitch, whether or not the 2010 overhaul survives (the Supreme Court mostly upheld it last month, after the book went to press, but Republican leaders now vow to block the overhaul’s implementation and repeal it). And the book does get more readable and cohesive as it progresses.

But Carville and Greenberg largely omitted the guideposts that readers need to get from one point to the next. And much of the impressive evidence they marshal gets obscured by the book’s format, in which they mimic the frothy back-and-forth of the TV talk shows where Carville shines.

Here’s a sample from Carville: “Every cockamamie, goofball, jackass, stupid idea that has come up in the last 30 years has come from Representative Ryan and his ilk. I’ll be glad to enumerate (etc.). … It’s not enough that the working poor have been crushed and he and his kind have gotten every kind of break; they have to have more.” Greenberg frequently modulates, telling Carville: “Well, it is a little more complex.” … “Well, let’s just say there is a fog machine on our side too.” … and “You are not far off.”

Here, separately, Greenberg comes the closest to a conclusion, this time addressing the reader: “We’ll be honest with you: Only if Obama and the Democrats run on the principle that ‘it’s the middle class, stupid!’ do we have any chance as a country to address the state of the middle class and their dreams. … The deep problems at the heart of this book have to be at the heart of our politics.”

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Barack Obama , Book Review , James Carville , Penguin Books , Stan Greenberg , Stupid!” , “It’s the Middle Class

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. How to enjoy Buntod
  2. World bids Gabriel Garcia Marquez ‘Adios’
  3. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  4. ‘Wild West’ Masbate’s pristine marine gems
  5. Kim Atienza: At home with art and design
  6. How Margie Moran-Floirendo keeps her dancer’s body
  7. Life lessons I want to teach my son
  8. Garcia Marquez left unpublished manuscript
  9. Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  10. Wanted: Beauty queen with a heart that beats for the environment
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  3. Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  4. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  5. Miss America: Don’t suspend teen over prom invite
  6. How Margie Moran-Floirendo keeps her dancer’s body
  7. This is not just a farm
  8. President Quezon was born here–and so was Philippine surfing
  9. Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  10. Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  3. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  4. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  10. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer


  • Caramoan declared mining-free zone
  • Slain mayor uneasy with public display of firearms
  • Mt. Banahaw visitors down to only 3,000—DENR
  • Bicol tour offer: Almasor or Triple C
  • Bomb found in Cagayan de Oro-bound bus
  • Sports

  • Donaire junks Garcia as coach, taps father
  • ’Bye Ginebra: No heavy heart this time
  • UAAP board tackles new rules
  • Baguio climb to decide Le Tour de Filipinas
  • Pacquiao-Mayweather still a pipe dream
  • Lifestyle

  • Entering the monkhood a rite of passage
  • Haneda International Airport: A destination on its own
  • Wanted: Beauty queen with a heart that beats for the environment
  • Kim Atienza: At home with art and design
  • Life lessons I want to teach my son
  • Entertainment

  • HEARD: Very villainy
  • HEARD: Serious job
  • Story time on the road
  • Let a hundred creative flowers bloom
  • Agents of Ambush, April 24, 2014
  • Business

  • PH banks not ready for Asean integration
  • Stocks down on profit-taking
  • Banks allowed to use ‘cloud’
  • SMIC to issue P15-B bonds
  • Honda upgrades PH plant
  • Technology

  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Viber releases new design for iPhone, comes to Blackberry 10 for the first time
  • Engineers create a world of difference
  • Bam Aquino becomes Master Splinter’s son after Wiki hack
  • Mark Caguioa lambasts Ginebra teammates on Twitter
  • Opinion

  • Respite
  • Bucket list
  • JPII in 1981: walking a tightrope
  • It’s up to us
  • Repetition
  • Global Nation

  • 19 Ukrainians, Russians, Filipinas rescued in bar raid
  • Filipinos coming home from Mideast must obtain MERS clearance – DOH
  • US Secret Service in Manila ahead of Obama visit
  • Palace thanks Estrada for successful HK mission
  • Hong Kong accepts PH apology; sanctions also lifted