The hundreds of political junkies who showed up to hear Mary Matalin and James Carville at Loyola University Institute of Politics’ annual Ed Renwick Lecture Wednesday probably knew what they were going to get. The well-known political consultants and post-Katrina New Orleans transplants long ago learned to mine their bipartisan marriage for odd-couple comedy.
And indeed, when they spoke of the 2016 presidential race, each retreated to his or her respective corner.
Democrat Carville pronounced Donald Trump’s ideas “insane,” and disputed the premise of the GOP’s whole “make America great again” theme.
“If you’re a woman, if you’re an African-American, if you’re a gay person, 1958 is not the watermark year,” he said.
Matalin, meanwhile, bemoaned the state of her party — “I don’t think the Republican Party’s image could be any worse,” she said — even as she vowed not to vote for the likely Democratic nominee, whom she referred to several times as “the H-Bomb.”
But the couple did offer a few unpredictable opinions.
Matalin defended the honor of her old boss, Dick Cheney, although she quipped that she “wouldn’t go hunting with him.” The unexpected part was when she likened the former vice president to her equally blunt-spoken husband, noting that “I like men who say what they mean and mean what they say.” Still, she said, while Cheney treated her like a daughter, “he said he wouldn’t adopt me because he’d have James as a son-in-law.”
Asked to name the most talented politician other than old Carville pal and client Bill Clinton, neither played it particularly safe. Carville mentioned former Democratic Georgia U.S. Sen. Zell Miller, who officiated at the couple’s wedding, and who become something of a pariah in his own party back in 2004 when he fiercely attacked nominee John Kerry on behalf of President George W. Bush.
Some people in the room may not have remembered Carville’s choice. But Matalin, who later in the session predicted that Louisiana would never turn as partisan as Washington because people know their elected representatives, picked a name everyone in the crowd recognized.
“Even better than Clinton,” she argued, “is Mitch Landrieu.”
‘Grace notes’ is a daily feature by Advocate columnist Stephanie Grace. To read more of her content, including her full columns, click here.