James Carville talks politics

  • Political consultant James Carville spoke at the AMU last night.
  • Carville urged young people to be willing to accept failures as well as successes.
  • Carville also commentated on the state of the Republican Party and actions of the Obama administration.

Although unafraid of taking political pot shots elsewhere, famed political consultant James Carville primarily turned away from partisanship in his speech to call young people "to be willing to accept defeat" in an appearance at the Alumni Memorial Union last night.

Carville was an adviser for former President Bill Clinton, as well as for Hillary Clinton's campaign for president in 2008.

He used the first part of the event, sponsored in part by the Les Aspen Center for Government Alumni Council, to "depart from partisan politics" and to address the hundreds of Marquette students in attendance in the full AMU Ballrooms.

"We have become so success-crazed, we have learned in part the wrong lesson," Carville said.

He called upon students to be willing to embrace and even to anticipate failures, in addition to successes, as part of their futures.

"Everybody fails," he said. "Everybody."

Carville cited Abraham Lincoln as an example of someone who had many great successes and many notable failures in his life.

"What we need to understand and what we need to teach people," Carville said, "is that your ability to succeed is proportional to your willingness to accept defeat."

Despite the somewhat serious topic of his speech, Carville kept the mood light and wasn't afraid to mock himself, as well as other – primarily Republican — politicians.

"I had a 4.0 on graduation day," he said. "It was my blood alcohol level."

Carville offered some insight on the recent presidential election, marveling at the diversity of candidates who at one point or another competed for the position.

"I think the really unique historical thing about the last election was the composition of the original field," he said.

But when Carville entered the question and answer segment of the event, he unabashedly embraced partisanship, offering sharp criticism of the Republican Party and its leadership.

"I know there are responsible people in the Republican Party, but man (they're) hard to find. "Michael Steele? Please," Carville said of the Republican National Committee chairman.

When an audience member asked if Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was the hope of the Republican Party, Carville deadpanned, "I hope so."

He said that Palin, if she is considering running for president in 2012, would be unqualified for the position.

In the wake of Iowa and Vermont legalizing gay marriage, Carville said Republicans may eventually be forced to accept it simply to stay a viable competitor.

"The nature of the country is shifting and they're going to have to shift with it," he said.

He said gay marriage was likely to become accepted by more states and more people over time, although he said he couldn't say exactly when.

"It has to go through the political system, but it's not going to stop as an issue," Carville said.

One audience member asked Carville's opinion on how President Obama will tackle health care reform, a pertinent question since Carville was adviser to Bill Clinton, whose efforts at health care reform were markedly unsuccessful.

Although he did not offer a specific timeframe or plan, he was "confident the health care system is going to look substantially different" when Obama leaves office.

"They're going to pass something because the costs have just gone out of sight," Carville said.

Dan Micek, a sophomore in the College of Health Sciences, said he really enjoyed Carville's speech.

"I think he's a great speaker," Micek said. "Whatever your political viewpoints are, he's someone who's interesting to listen to."

Grace Tynan, a freshman in the College of Education, thought both Carville's demeanor and speech topic were unexpected.

"I thought he was much funnier than I expected," she said. "It was a lot less political and it was much more about life."