One of Fox's favorite Dems fired from campaign job

There's a reason Pat Caddell does well as a Fox News Democrat, but now it's come back to bite him

Published February 17, 2010 11:45PM (EST)

Watch Fox News long enough, and you'll notice a pattern with the Democrats they choose to have on as regular sparring partners. People like Alan Colmes, Bob Beckel, Susan Estrich -- they're all really Democrats, sure, but for the most part they act as Democrats there only to bolster Fox's chosen narrative.

In an article way back in 2007, I explored this phenomenon, dividing Fox's regular Democratic guests into three categories. You have your scary Democrats -- people like the Rev. Al Sharpton or Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, who, for various reasons, feed into Fox viewers' worst fears about liberals. You have your losers, former operatives who have become non-entities in Democratic politics, generally at least in part because campaigns they ran failed in spectacular fashion. In this category, to name just a couple, there's Beckel, who managed Walter Mondale to the losing end of a landslide in 1984, and Estrich, who ran Michael Dukakis' doomed 1988 campaign. And then there are the enablers, people who loudly proclaim their allegiance to the Democratic Party ... right before they trash the party, its elected officials, its agenda and its supporters.

Pat Caddell, a veteran Democratic strategist -- he worked as a pollster for President Carter, among others -- is a classic example of the enabler. Caddell's career as a high-level operative essentially ended with the 1988 presidential campaign, when he seemed to melt down near the end of Joe Biden's run and the then-senator ended his professional relationship with him. "Caddell stories took on a life of their own in political Washington," the Washington Post reported in a November 1987 profile of the pollster. "Biden staffers, perhaps trying to shift blame from themselves, weren't shy about repeating them to the press. Campaign managers and aides for some of the remaining Democratic hopefuls jokingly assured each other that they had no plans to employ him. Said one: 'Paul Kirk's 11th commandment for party unity should be that no one hire Caddell for the general election.'" 

Despite his virtual exile, Caddell has still managed to remain in the political discourse recently with his new role, bashing his old Democratic friends on Fox's air. So it was a little surprising to see Andrew Romanoff, a serious challenger in Colorado's Democratic Senate primary this year, bring on Caddell as an unpaid consultant. What wasn't particularly surprising was how, and why, Caddell ended up leaving the campaign.

Romanoff dumped Caddell Tuesday, Politico reports, as a result of the emergence of a video shot at a November appearance with conservative David Horowitz in which Caddell goes after some big liberal constituencies, including labor and environmentalists.

""The whole idea of the environmental movement isn't to clean up the environment, or to do what we need to do or to get jobs," Caddell says in the video.. "It is to basically deconstruct capitalism."

Of the Service Employees International Union, a frequent target on the right, Caddell said, "[T]hose guys are thugs, the SEIU."

Naturally, after his firing, Caddell started publicly criticizing Democrats.

"“What they have created is a world in which there is no dissent. Don’t look at me. Look at [Sen.] Evan Bayh. People, with some justification, may think that I’m crazy. But he is the center of the establishment if there was ever was someone,” Caddell said. “When there’s no room in the Democratic party for him and there’s no room in the Democratic party for me, and the unions do get to make those kinds of calls in defense of the indefensible, because, ‘We own you,’ well, the Democratic party will be finished,” he told the Daily Caller.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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