Robert Morris Lecture Series
by Mustafa Khan
Speaking after Presidential candidate John Kerry?s concession, political commentator James Carville delivered his analysis of the election to a crowded Heinz Hall. Carville, featured as the second lecturer in Robert Morris University?s Speaker Series, touched on the shortcomings of Kerry?s campaign and the future direction of the Democratic Party.
?James Carville is a very astute observer of American politics and one of the top Democratic political consultants in the country. He is excellent at making incisive commentary on the state of politics in our nation,? said Jonathan Mendelson, a junior in computer science and social and decision sciences and the principal organizer of Carnegie Mellon?s College Democrats.
Carville, considered one of today?s ?best known political consultants? according to the lecture program, pointed to Kerry?s lack of a coherent ?narrative? that could unite and appeal to Americans.
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Carville addressed students at Robert Morris University earlier in the day, stating that his party is in a ?state of confusion.? At Heinz Hall in the evening, Carville noted that the Democratic party now faces the challenge of transforming itself from an ?accumulation of interest groups? into a more meaningful party. At times frustration over Kerry?s loss bled through to Carville?s speech, as Carville voiced his shock that Americans re-elected a leader despite a ?soft economy, a disastrous war, and three lost debates.?
Regardless of his admitted disappointment over the election, Carville, a commentator on CNN?s Crossfire, was able to inject amusement into his speech. Apologizing in advance for his lack of preparedness due to his frenzied work schedule, Carville was met with laughter when he said, ?I?ve heard of introductions that need no speaker, but I?m more of a speaker without an introduction.?
Carville?s insights were a mix of humor and distress. Dwelling on his dismay towards the Democratic Party?s failure to unite its bloc, Carville ran through a laundry list of exhausted tactics such as organizing ?symposiums? and planning ?retreats.?
The night?s most engaging moment was when Carville was asked whether ?Republicans will make ?good faith? to recognize liberal concerns? during the question-and-answer portion of his lecture. The question was received with an emphatic ?No? by Carville which filled the theater?s remaining quiet spaces with laughter.
After his speech and a question-and-answer period, Carville shrugged off his discontent and expressed his hope for the future. While he noted that building the right ?narrative? might be difficult, he said he hoped that at least Democrats can all agree. Though the failure of our nation?s parties have generated a divided ?cultural war? in America, Carville reminded his audience that though ?the best time to plant an oak tree was 25 years ago, the second best time is today.?
Editor?s Note: Jonathan Mendelson is a contributing writer for the Tartan.