Matalin And Carville – Cute Contrarians Or Political Snow Job?

“A political narcissistic sociopath leveraged fear and ignorance with a campaign marked by mendacity and malice rather than a mandate for resurgence and reform.”

Sounds like much of the campaign analysis made by liberals about Romney, right? If you thought so, you’d be wrong. That’s the post-election statement of über-conservative, Mary Matalin, about President Obama and how he made his way to the White House for a second term. Opposite Land. I swear I read that exact statement about the Romney/Ryan campaign several times; leave it to a conservative to plagiarize the punditry of liberals to spin for their own nefarious nattering.

Here’s more of her statement:

Instead of using his high office to articulate a vision for our future, Obama used it as a vehicle for character assassination, replete with unrelenting and destructive distortion, derision, and division.

Mitt Romney distinguished himself and conservatism with a grounded, courageous, forward-thinking problem-solving reform agenda for a nation ready to renew and starved for leadership and maturity. He is a man of integrity and character, as is his whole family. And unlike in the 1996 and 2008 Republican campaigns, which — though led by men of great personal integrity — were marked by dead-end policy prescriptions, Romney/Ryan laid a durable philosophical and policy foundation for the next generation of conservative leadership.

I’m not sure I’ve read that much head-shaking delusion in two short paragraphs in a long time, but then I haven’t picked up Confessions of a Dangerous Mind recently. I get it; she’s a conservative who’s pissed because her boy got routed, but “political narcissistic sociopath”?? Not one, but two personality disorders…three, if you count “political”? Let’s pull that apart for a moment and at least define the noun:

Does that sound like Barack Obama to anyone but a certifiable right-winger mourning their election loss with an invective-spewing temper tantrum? No, it does not. Disagree on policy and platform, but this sort of cretinous insult is offensive to the President, to those who support him, and to anyone who isn’t a petulant, whining, delusional “non-success” (as my thesaurus kindly parses “loser”). We get it, Matalin, you’re mad, but put a sock in it and take a nap. You’re sounding dangerously like Ann Coulter and I hate seeing any smart girl fall down that rabbit hole!

What makes Matalin’s rant all the more bizarre is that her husband – and frequent sparring partner – is James Carville, he of the grizzled face and Cajun-patois; the (conversely) über-Democrat who’s a political commentator, teacher at Tulane University, and the man behind Bill Clinton’s legendary campaign and the phrase, “It’s the economy, stupid.” You know, a guy who likes President Obama.

So tell me, how does it work with these two? People have been pondering the conundrum of this contrary couple since those early Bill Clinton days, but like the Bermuda Triangle, Sasquatch, and those damn missing socks, no answers have emerged. Somehow they’ve managed to stay married for 14 years, produce two children, and by all accounts they do not wield weapons of mass destruction upon each other. In fact, they play off their artful antagonism with coy public appearances together, fluffy talk-show fisticuffs, and the odd product endorsement.

All in good fun, right? But how? They’re both political operatives, it’s their work and their focus; how does one not come to blows when the normal topics any couple might discuss – including “how’d your day go, honey?” – could include one party calling the other party’s candidate “a political narcissistic sociopath”? That kind of overwrought, poop-slinging hyperbole has literally torn lesser couples apart. No one wonders why Ann Coulter never seems to have a loving partner by her side.

Is it a sham? Is the sham the sheer extremity of their differences? Or have they truly discovered some heretofore unknown secret of transcending severe political divides to survive triumphant as a couple? I don’t know any couples like that, but my circle is small.

I get “political divides.” They’re not necessarily deal breakers. Couples can disagree, argue, or embrace widely disparate opinions on a whole host of issues – from how to leave the bathroom floor to why stuffing should never involve turkey gizzards – and still survive. But, frankly, I’d have a hard time if my husband so fiercely and firmly believed the side I worked for and the President I admired, supported, and wrote my little fingers off for was a “sociopath.” Particularly if he took that opinion and proudly declared it in a statement to the media. I’d question his observational skills and his lack of civility. I’d find his derogation delusional, out of line, and as ripe for household dissent as any other core issue we might clash over.

Because politics is a core issue, particularly these days when each party seems to embody conflicting worldviews about issues as foundational as compassion, caring, tolerance and honesty.

But hey, who am I to analyze anyone else’s relationship? They have a formula that works for them. Perhaps, like many other families, they have a mandate to not discuss religion and politics and avoid anything that reeks of either. Given that they’re both political operatives in a very political world, that’s got to be tough; it must give them lots of time to discuss the current roster at HBO and if Phil Jackson might really come back to the Lakers. Good times, over there. Get out the popcorn, honey, it’s time for TV!

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