NEW ORLEANS (CNS)—Political candidates who believe in limited
government, lower taxes and less spending stand the best chance of
getting elected in the fall, Republican strategist Mary Matalin told
Catholic media professionals June 3.
Disenchanted with both majority parties, more voters are identifying
themselves as independent or unaffiliated and want to support
politicians who believe "people should have a say in this republic," she
Matalin addressed the 2010 Catholic Media Convention, which drew members
of the Catholic Press Association and the Catholic Academy for
Communication Arts Professionals to New Orleans June 2-4.
She shared her observations on the current political climate in the
country as it heads toward midterm elections.
A former adviser to President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick
Cheney, Matalin is editor-in-chief of Threshold Editions, an imprint of
Simon & Schuster. She also is a CNN contributor and co-hosts a radio
She filled in for her husband, Democratic strategist James Carville, who
was scheduled to speak but had a last-minute conflict. The couple and
their two daughters live in New Orleans.
Matalin was introduced by Father John Carville, retired vicar general of
the Diocese of Baton Rouge and her husband's cousin.
The priest said he's often asked if Matalin and Carville fight all the
time. Their heated debates on political talk shows are legendary.
Carville, a Louisiana native nicknamed the "Ragin' Cajun" for his fiery
temper, made headlines recently for attacking the Obama administration's
response to the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
"They argue almost only on TV," the priest said. "They are very
professional and very careful to stay out of each other's sandbox....They may be a political odd couple, but they share a love for the
In her remarks, Matalin said the upcoming elections will be historic.
"That's not hyperbole. The last couple of cycles have been historic,"
including the 2008 election of President Barack Obama, she said.
Obama "came into office with astronomically high numbers and his support
was widespread," she said, noting that he benefited from "a very
disgruntled Republican electorate and a weak" opponent in Republican
Sen. John McCain of Arizona.
Once Obama was elected, "we felt very aspirational and appreciated that
this country elected a minority president. We felt proud of ourselves
and appreciated his many gifts -- and he has many gifts," Matalin said.
But Obama "in the past year has fallen further and faster" in the polls
than any president before him and has become a polarizing figure,
Pushback against the president's agenda has been sparked by passage of a
health care reform measure that, according to one poll, 70 percent of
Americans do not like, she said. In her view, voters also feel Obama has
not kept his promise of bipartisanship, more transparency and a change
in the political culture of Washington.
Regarding health reform, lawmakers "felt the least bad option was to
pass it, that it would be seen as an accomplishment and people would
forget about it, and that's not true," Matalin said.
Everyone agrees that some kind of health care reform is needed, she
said, but dislike of the new law has only grown in intensity, she said.
The sentiment that lawmakers in Washington are not listening to their
constituents gave rise to the Tea Party, she said. It was started by
"people who otherwise were never engaged in an active way in politics,
but they started reacting to an agenda being forced on them," she said,
and the feeling that "they were not being heard."
But anti-Obama sentiment is not "necessarily pro-Republican," Matalin
In the upcoming elections, incumbents from both major parties are
vulnerable, she said, adding that many voters are mobilizing around the
role of government.
Data show many Americans think "we have violated the intergenerational
compact that every generation leaves the country better for the next;
for the first time in history we feel like we're not going leave it
better, that we're burdening our children with debt," Matalin said.
"That is the emotion behind the election, not to the benefit of either
party, but to the benefit of the country," she said. "I'm actually proud
Americans are engaged in the debate....I think this is a good thing,
and I am optimistic about the election, not as a party person but as an
As she started her talk, Matalin thanked the Catholic media
professionals for coming to New Orleans, which needs "your presence" and
"your prayers" as it continues to recover from 2005's Hurricane Katrina
while now facing the oil spill disaster.
On a personal note, Matalin, who was raised a Methodist, said she went
through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults and became a Catholic