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Clinton Adviser Now Advising Karzai Rival

The Obama administration is pretty much resigned to Afghan President Hamid Karzai winning reelection next month. The administration considers Karzai to be corrupt and incompetent. And yet no real viable alternative candidate has emerged. Pledged not to interference in the election, there’s not much that the Obama team can do but sigh and mend fences with Karzai.

Which makes it really hard to understand how James Carville has signed on to work for probably-hopeless candidate Ashraf Ghani, a former finance minister with more of a following in Washington than in Afghanistan, given that Carville is a close confidante of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Bloomberg reports that Carville doesn’t think there’s a problem:

“I don’t think anybody would veto me doing this,” said Carville, 64, who said he has worked on campaigns in 18 countries. “I’ve worked in Israel when Bill Clinton was president. It’s what I do.”

Bloomberg’s Indira A.R. Lakshmanan gets a quote from State Department spokesman Ian Kelly saying Clinton and the department aren’t concerned about Carville working for Ghani. But the perception that Carville represents a Clintonite thumb on Ghani’s side of the Afghan electoral scale is kind of unavoidable. Why Ghani thinks that might help him — as elections approach in Afghanistan, Karzai has grown more critical of the U.S., not less — is bewildering, but that might be an indicator of Ghani’s flaws as a candidate. Carville is clearly free to advise whomever he wants, and it’s neither his fault nor his responsibility that Clinton is the U.S.’s top diplomat. But this may be another bit of turbulence that the U.S. and Karzai will have to overcome after the August election.

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