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What should the White House do? Panic!

By James Carville, CNN Contributor
September 18, 2011 -- Updated 1505 GMT (2305 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • James Carville: Special elections are a warning to White House
  • He says President Obama's approach isn't working, needs urgent fix
  • Obama should fire staffers whose policies aren't effective
  • Carville: Indict Wall Street officials responsible for financial woes

Editor's note: James Carville is a Democratic strategist who serves as a political contributor for CNN, appearing frequently on CNN's "The Situation Room" as well as other programs on all CNN networks. Carville remains active in Democratic politics and is a party fundraiser.

(CNN) -- People often ask me what advice I would give the White House about various things. Today I was mulling over election results from New York and Nevada while thinking about that very question. What should the White House do now? One word came to mind: Panic.

We are far past sending out talking points. Do not attempt to dumb it down. We cannot stand any more explanations. Have you talked to any Democratic senators lately? I have. It's pretty damn clear they are not happy campers.

This is what I would say to President Barack Obama: The time has come to demand a plan of action that requires a complete change from the direction you are headed.

I don't know how else to break this down. Simply put:

1. Fire somebody. No -- fire a lot of people. This may be news to you but this is not going well. For precedent, see Russian Army 64th division at Stalingrad. There were enough deaths at Stalingrad to make the entire tea party collectively orgasm.

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Mr. President, your hinge of fate must turn. Bill Clinton fired many people in 1994 and took a lot of heat for it. Reagan fired most of his campaign staff in 1980. Republicans historically fired their own speaker, Newt Gingrich. Bush fired Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. For God's sake, why are we still looking at the same political and economic advisers that got us into this mess? It's not working.

Furthermore, it's not going to work with the same team, the same strategy and the same excuses. I know economic analysts are smart -- some work 17-hour days. It's time to show them the exit. Wake up -- show us you are doing something.

2. Indict people. There are certain people in American finance who haven't been held responsible for utterly ruining the economic fabric of our country. Demand from the attorney general a clear status of the state of investigation concerning these extraordinary injustices imposed upon the American people. I know Attorney General Eric Holder is a close friend of yours, but if his explanations aren't good, fire him too. Demand answers to why no one has been indicted.

Mr. President, people are livid. Tell people that you, too, are angry and sickened by the irresponsible actions on Wall Street that caused so much suffering. Do not accept excuses. Demand action now.

3. Make a case like a Democrat. While we are going along with the Republican austerity garbage, who is making the case against it? It's not the Democrats!

We are allowing the over-educated, over-explanatory bureaucrat by the name of (Congresssional Budget Office director Douglas) Elmendorf do all the talking. Do not let him make your case. Let us make your case. Is it any wonder that we were doing better in the middle of the stimulus-spending period than we are doing with the austerity program?

4. Hold fast to an explanation. Stick to your rationale for what has happened and what is going to happen under your leadership. You must carry this through until the election (never say that things are improving because evidently they are not).

As I watch the Republican debates, I realize that we are on the brink of a crazy person running our nation. I sit in front of the television and shudder at the thought of one of these creationism-loving, global-warming-denying, immigration-bashing, Social-Security-cutting, clean-air-hating, mortality-fascinated, Wall-Street-protecting Republicans running my country.

The course we are on is not working. The hour is late, and the need is great. Fire. Indict. Fight.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of James Carville

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