Mary Tutwiler

Our man in Kabul

by Mary Tutwiler

Louisiana’s rock star political guru, James Carville, can’t turn down a challenge, even when it means gearing up a presidential campaign in a place known for corruption, back room deals in smoke-filled chambers, and long odds on colorful candidates. No, it’s not New Orleans. Carville is headed to that other den of inequity, Kabul, to run the campaign of Afghan presidential challenger Ashraf Ghani.

Ghani, a former finance minister and World Bank analyst, is taking on incumbent Hamid Karzai against the tumultuous background of the fight to free Afghanistan from the fundamentalist religious and political movement of the Taliban. According to National Public Radio, the two met in Washington this spring, and Carville signed on as a volunteer to shape the campaign.

Ghani recognized a kindred spirit. “This is a Louisiana boy who understands. If you understand New Orleans, you understand Afghanistan,” he told NPR. “Yeah, I felt a little bit at home, to be honest with you,” Carville responded. Without American standards for elections like polling and focus group data, Carville is looking forward to a return to old school politics. He told NPR, “So it was kind of refreshing to go back and do campaigns the old-fashioned way.”