Wednesday, April 23, 2008

James Carville

It's late night -- time for true confessions here on the Clarion Caller Blog.

Anytime a pundit has attained the ability to be known only by first name, you know he's got it going on. Such is the case with James Carville -- who is simply known as The James. He is to politics what Oprah or Ellen is to TV talk. If there are two kinds of people in the world -- lovers and fighters -- James Carville is one of the latter. Take a Louisiana Cajun, add Irish ancestry, mix in two years as a U.S. Marine and sprinkle a bit of litigation experience on top, and you have James, who was born to fight.

And he's good at it. He's very, very good at it.

Carville is a believer in the adversarial system of politics that is this country's heritage. There's nothing negative about political combat; it's just politics. And there's something to be said for putting a candidate for public office through some fire before he (or she) takes on the heavy mantle of governance. So Carville is unapologetic, as his nickname -- the "Ragin' Cajun" -- implies.

But who has time for apologies, anyway, when you're so busy winning?

James had some notable early success in consulting, but he made his bones by taking on the sorry, sagging campaign of a candidate 40 points down. By the time James got finished taking his defibrillator to the operation, people were calling his candidate Sen. Harris Wofford.

And you know what happened in 1992.

Need a refresher? "It's the economy, stupid."

If James has a weakness (and that's a big IF), it's his partner. No, not his wife, Republican pundit Mary Matalin. It's Paul Begala, with whom Carville founded a consulting company and managed many campaigns (including the Wofford campaign). Carville is like the witty and fascinating star quarterback who is just as at home starring on the football team as he does on the Academic Team, whereas Begala is more like that annoying, smarmy kid who followed you around all the time, constantly correcting you and arguing with you about whether the sun was up, and you'd like nothing more than to just give him a good slap now and then.

I freely admit my bias where James Carville is concerned. I don't always agree with him and I don't always agree with his politics, but I simply love listening to him. I will rearrange my schedule to be in front of the TV if I know he's going to be on. Heck, I'm even watching a rerun of Larry King Live when I already saw it three hours ago.

James is already the premier political strategist on the Democratic side (as much as he would hate this comparison, he is to the Democratic Party what Karl Rove has been to the GOP, which is indispensable) and -- I believe, at least -- in the country. But if he can take Hillary Clinton's campaign from its near-death experience just a few weeks ago to victory in Denver, The James will ascend to the political equivalent of Mount Olympus.

Check out James' web site here. It's informative and entertaining ... just like James.