Who's the Boss?

There's something telling about the way Carville & Begala keep antagonizing their would-be friends by appearing on CNN to defend Dom Imus. Normally when you hear liberal grousing about Carville's CNN spots lately it's about things like his habit of occassionally going on the network to disparage Barack Obama or John Edwards without him being presented properly as the Hillary Clinton partisan -- not a former member of her staff, but an inner circle of "kitchen cabinet" advisors -- that he is.

Clinton herself, however, has led admirably on this issue, doing the right thing substantively for the country. It's also been the right move politically for herself -- appealing with the base in general, but perhaps more important providing a reminder that putting women in positions of power really would make a difference. But Carville doesn't have her back. Doesn't even have her back to the extent that he was willing to, say, argue Imus' case privately but not speak publicly on the issue. No. Clinton's made taking a lead role on this issue a priority last week, and there's Carville with the knives.

Which tells us relatively little about Carville or Clinton or Imus as such. Rather, it reminds us of the fundamental truth that's all-too-infrequently spoken -- that for all the talk of "interest groups" influencing the Democratic Party absolutely nobody is more influential than the essentially permanent members of the consulting aristocracy. In an important sense, they don't really work for their clients, mere politicians who come and go. Their clients don't quite work for them, but they are subservient to them.