The Ragin’ Cajun came to town Saturday, bringing with him the boisterous personality that has made him famous.
Speaking at a fundraiser for Planned Parenthood at the Montecito Country Club, James Carville gave a spirited address to the crowd, despite the fact his alma mater, Louisiana State University, lost its national number one ranking in football just before the event began. Before his speech, Carville, now an international political consultant, mingled with the crowd, which included County supervisors Janet Wolf and Salud Carbajal, and Santa Barbara City Councilmembers Das Williams, Brian Barnwell, Helene Schneider and Iya Falcone.
The event, titled “Politics, Sex and Cocktails,” was a “Cajun cocktail if I’ve ever seen one,” Carville said, opening with a few stories about his college habits. Carville told of a graduation speech he gave at Cornell University a few years back. After asking how many in attendance were graduating with a 4.0 grade point average, Carville told the crowd of about 250, “I had a 4.0 on graduation day. That was my blood-alcohol content.” In college, he said, he had four F’s and a D at one point, to which his dad responded by telling him he was concentrating too much on one subject.
After his speech, Carville took questions on a variety of subjects, including his outlook on the 2008 election, the war in Iraq, and how he got along with his right wing wife, Republican political consultant Mary Matalin, who worked on 1992 on President George H.W. Bush‘s reelection campaign. Carville was a lead strategist in getting President Bill Clinton elected in 1992. Every marriage has things the couple avoids, he explained, like in-laws. For Matalin and him, it’s politics, Carville said. Talking more about his family, Carville explained how his daughter, Emma, despite being a preteen, is already developing “unfortunate Republican tendencies. She’ll say, ‘Momma I’ll be good if you give me a dollar.'” To which his wife responds, “Why can’t you just be good for nothing like your daddy?”
Carville was quite optimistic in looking to the future for the Democratic Party. “What a great time to be a Democrat,” he said, calling President George W. Bush the most incompetent president in the history of the U.S. and noting the man Bush went up against, former Vice President Al Gore, just won the Nobel Peace Prize. “Think today where America could be if Al Gore was president of the United States,” he said. In fact, Carville said later, he is still getting over Bush’s controversial win over Gore in the 2000 election. “Yes, it was stolen from us and no, I’m not over it,” he said. “I don’t want to. I want to feel it everyday.”
He suggested, from looking at past cycles, that the next 36 years will be good for the democrats, and that there is no way a democrat – more specifically Sen. Hillary Clinton – won’t be in office come January 2009. “We have to talk ourselves out of losing this election,” he said. Carville compared Clinton to golfer Tiger Woods. “The rest of them are hacking in the rough,” he said.
Carville also took on subjects important to Planned Parenthood, and questioned the use of the terms pro-life and pro-choice. Carville said pro-choicers are pro-life because they know what works safely – comprehensive sexual education, proper contraception and keeping abortion legal. Money raised at the event will go to educating voters on candidate positions on reproductive health issues, defeating statewide initiatives which put the safety of teens at risk, working to elect a pro-choice candidate to replace Sen. Tom McClintock and getting out the vote in key states of the 2008 presidential election.