Carville, conservatives, and context

CARVILLE, CONSERVATIVES, AND CONTEXT…. Fox News’ Bill Sammon had this report yesterday, which generated quite a bit of interest on the right (and with CNN):

On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, just minutes before learning of the terrorist attacks on America, Democratic strategist James Carville was hoping for President Bush to fail, telling a group of Washington reporters: “I certainly hope he doesn’t succeed.”

This led to immediate comparisons between Carville and Rush Limbaugh, which didn’t hold up well to scrutiny.

But as it turns out, not only are the Limbaugh comparisons faulty, but the Fox News report that generated so much excitement among conservatives left out some key details.

Carville’s comments came the morning of 9/11 at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. Greg Sargent tracked down an audio clip and transcript of Carville’s remarks. In response to a question about whether Bush was politically vulnerable, Carville said:

“People basically like this president as a person and they want him to succeed, but they have some pretty serious doubts that have not crept in but are sort of there. You have almost half the country saying he is in over his head. Over half the country saying he is for the powerful. And as much as I would like for it or wish for it, they are not going to pull away completely from him months into his administration.

“I don’t care if people like him 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. It is his country, his life or their lives. So he has that going for him. There is a lot that is going to happen between now and next November. It is not that people don’t like him. It is not that people don’t want him to succeed but it is also not that he doesn’t have some serious underlying problems.”

Is this in any way similar to Limbaugh saying, “I want the stimulus package to fail“? I think any fair reading suggests otherwise. As Greg explained, the transcript “shows clearly that Carville was only saying that he hoped Bush would fail politically, not substantively, as Limbaugh hopes of Obama.”

Drudge, who loved this story yesterday, obviously won’t run a correction. But how about CNN? Or, for that matter, how about a contextual update from Fox News’ Sammon?