I don’t think there is a middle ground when it comes to people's opinions on James Carville, you either love him or hate him. Either way, he’s one of the most visible political commentators in the country. How he got to where he is is rather an amazing story.
He was born on October 25, 1944, one of eight children eventually sired by the Carvilles, in a small town called Carville, Louisiana that bordered the Mississippi River. The town itself is named after his grandfather. His dad, Chester, ran the general store and his mom, Lucille aka Miss Nippy, sold encyclopedias door to door. Doesn’t sound like much I guess but the family managed to save enough money to send all eight kids through college.
I guess Carville got politics in his blood at an early age. His first job in the political arena was that of a canvasser for a local car dealer who was trying to win a seat on the Louisiana state legislature. He was still in high school. By the time 1962 rolled around he entered Louisiana State University. He wound up flunking out.
With nowhere to go and nothing to do, Carville enlisted in, of all things, the United States Marine Corps. After serving a two year stint at Camp Pendleton he made his way back to LSU and got his undergraduate degree by attending night school. He eventually hit up a rich uncle for some much-needed cash and went on to get a law degree.
After working at a local law firm in Baton Rouge from 1973 through 1979, Carville decided to try his hand once again in politics. His efforts usually were centered around Democrats running for local and statewide office. He got a boost up when he ran his first Senate race in Virginia in 1982. Following that, he teamed up with Paul Begala and put together a campaign (unsuccessful) for the Texas governorship. In 1989 they formed their own political consulting company that focused on getting Democrats elected.
His major claim to fame was managing Bill Clinton's successful bid for the presidency in 1992. It was the first time the Democrats had held the White House in 12 years. The rest is history.
Whoever said “politics makes for some strange bedfellows” hit the nail on the head when it comes to Carville. He is married to Mary Matalin, a long time Republican political consultant and advisor on George Bush’s re-election campaign against Clinton. Amazingly, they are still together and to hear them exchange jibes on NBC’s Meet the Press is one of the highlights of my Sunday mornings.
As I mentioned earlier, Carville is not only controversial, he is infinitely quotable. It’s pretty easy to see by reading the following that Mr. Carville wears his heart on his sleeve and while I don’t agree with all of them, these are some of my favorites.
On the recent “discovery” of WMDs in Iraq:
”That thing that they found looks like some carburetor some hillbilly had buried in their backyard for God’s sake.”
On the United States Supreme Court:
”Thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court, you'll be able to use public money to send yours kids to General Beauregard Bigot Private Academy, Fundamentalist Football, and Frequent Drug Tests. They have these religious schools that teach these kids insanity like the earth is 5,000 years old, where the pope is a demon. I don't want my tax money going to that kind of crap. You can practice religion until you fall out. I don't want to pay for somebody else's bigotry.”
“What's the real difference between Republicans and Democrats? Let me tell ya the real difference ... Republicans will always take on people in the interest of power and good democrats will never fear to take on the power in the interests of people.”
”Republicans now have their own network in Fox, so guys who don't like to answer questions, like Trent Lott, have a place to go to hit softballs.”
”But one of Clinton's problems was, the interest groups don't care about the working poor. The Republicans don't care about the working poor -- they don't know any.”
”A good Republican is one who doesn't want anybody to know it.”
On Kenneth Starr:
“As with mosquitoes, horseflies and most bloodsucking parasites, Kenneth Starr was spawned in stagnant water.”
On working for Bill Clinton:
”Hell, if you work for Bill Clinton, you’re gonna go up and down more times than a whore's nightgown.”
”You know what? I love him. Bill Clinton.”
”Anytime the president says he didn’t know something, I believe him. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. That's the easiest thing to believe.”
On President George W. Bush and his Administration:
”You know what Bush needs? A calculator!”
”In the Clinton administration we worried the president would open his zipper. In the Bush administration, they worry the president will open his mouth.”
”They're just ultra-conservatives soaked in big oil money.”
”That’s exactly what happened in the ’80s. They have this tax cut and the coffers were just overflowing. Didn’t we run $3 trillion in debt that the Democrats had to come clean up? Using the war on terrorism as an excuse for these budget deficits I think is one of the most fraudulent things in American politics.”
“The Bush budget, with all the lies in it and wrapped in a flag, that is flag desecration.”