Political commentators Mary Matalin and James Carville didn’t agree on much when they discussed the 2016 presidential race with journalist Lee Cullum at the University of Texas at Dallas last Thursday night. But the “odd couple” husband and wife—he’s been an adviser to both Hillary and Bill Clinton; she’s worked for a couple of Bushes—did agree on one thing: their old pal Donna Brazile, an official with the Democratic National Committee and a CNN contributor, didn’t do anything wrong when she leaked questions to the Hillary team before a CNN town hall and a debate during the Democratic primary.
“Donna, like us, is not a journalist—she’s an advocate,” Matalin told a crowd of about 1,000 people at UTD. “So it would have been [wrong] for her not to have passed the questions along.” Carville agreed: “She’s the chairman of the DNC, and they accuse her of being a Democrat!” As someone who’s often appeared on CNN and other television networks, Carville added, he knows first-hand that it’s routine for TV pundits to trade gossip on the phone with their friends: “It’s politics.”
(CNN president Jeff Zucker apparently disagrees with Carville and Matalin. He fired Brazile for her actions after they were exposed by WikiLeaks, calling the behavior of the longtime Democratic operative “disgusting” and “unethical.”)
The rest of the evening at UTD was more in line with expectations. Carville said Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, was neither a Republican nor a conservative. “Trump does not have positions,” he added, “he has grievances.” But Matalin called the race for Trump, even though she left the GOP after his nomination to register as a Libertarian, characterizing the election as a contest between “the kook versus the crook.”
When Cullum asked what tasks Bill Clinton would be assigned to do if his wife, the Democratic nominee, became president, Carville joked, “They’ll send him to a lot of funerals. I’ll probably have to ride with him.” Matalin said, “I hope he’s passed the Monica Lewinsky stage now,” and Carville reminded everyone again about the “Access Hollywood” tape, where Trump boasted about groping women. “Of course that’s boorish, lewd behavior,” Matalin shot back, “but so is boinkin’ an intern in the Oval Office.”