Political odd couple James Carville and Mary Matalin traded barbs and debated issues to a packed audience at the Palestra on Oct. 9. Matalin ascended to fame in 1988 when she was named the Chief of Staff of the Republican National Committee. Four years later, President George H.W. Bush named her Deputy Campaign Manager in his unsuccessful reelection bid. Recently, Matalin served as an assistant to President George W. Bush and counselor to Vice President Dick Cheney. Carville’s rise to fame culminated in 1992 when he headed President Bill Clinton’s successful presidential campaign. Carville’s long list of clients include President Nelson Mandela of South Africa, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder of Germany, Prime Minister Tony Blair of the United Kingdom, six United States senators and the mayors of New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago. Matalin and Carville, rivals in 1992, made headlines when they crossed party lines and married each other in 1993. Matalin started the fireworks in the Palestra early, responding to the master of ceremonies’ assertion that “politics can make strange bedfellows.” “Politics or not, James [Carville] is just strange,” Matalin said. She continued to mock her husband, calling him “Corporal Cue Ball,” in reference to Carville’s shiny, bald head. Despite Matalin’s jesting, she revealed her deep respect for Carville. She particularly admired the fact that he became a success after struggling through his undergraduate years at Louisiana State University and that he was named one of the 20 sexiest men alive by People magazine.Matalin concluded by talking about being in a bomb shelter with the administration on September 11. She described how the president called world leaders and others called Wall Street to prevent financial disaster. She recalled that through all of this, all she could think about were her two baby daughters and husband. The experience with the President and Vice President solidifies her vote with Bush-Cheney this year. “That [experience] is my gut check,” Matalin said.Carville, not to be outdone by his wife, began his speech with a story about being pulled over by a trooper in Virginia. The officer wanted to write a ticket for speeding and not wearing a safety belt. After Carville denied the charges, he remembered his wife interjecting, “He’s just lying, officer. He worked for Clinton, all they know how to do is lie.” Carville also took time to make self-deprecating jokes. “I saw a headline that says ‘the Surgeon General wants to teach masturbation in school,'” he started. “This is just my luck – 30 years after I graduate, there’s finally something I can get an ‘A’ in.”Matalin and Carville are often asked how they can be married to political polar opposites. Carville answered the question before it was asked. “It is much easier for me to be married to someone who thinks passionately and differently than to be married to someone who isn’t passionate about anything at all.”Carville concluded his speech with a call for those in attendance to get involved in the political process. “Important decisions are going to get made whether you help to make them or not. You can either get rained on or make rain,” he said.During the question and answer section, Matalin and Carville debated the deficit and the war in Iraq, but agreed that the tragedy in Sudan is a genocide. At one point, however, Matalin asked Carville to tell the audience his views on Ralph Nader.Carville’s face turned stoid as he responded, “I wouldn’t urinate down his throat if his heart was on fire.” The audience erupted in laughter. Matalin added, “He’s so eloquent,” to continued laughter. Finally, both Matalin and Carville agreed that it was important for undergraduates to vote. At a press conference prior to the speech, when asked how he would convince college students to vote, Carville responded, “If you look at what’s going on around you and you can’t figure out that this is an important election, then you’re pretty stupid. If a war and escalating health care costs and an out of control deficit and terrorism doesn’t convince you that you’ve got a stake in this, then you’re just too stupid for me to convince you.”Tipton can be reached atrtipton@campustimes.org.

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