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Matalin: Lower Taxes, Less Spending Are Voters' Priorities
Julie Asher
Source: Catholic News Service
Published: Saturday, June 5, 2010
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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 said.

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 show.

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 political process."

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, Matalin said.

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 said.

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 American."

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 at Easter.

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