Sunday, June 3


Well, that was so awkward I was embarrassed for both of them and thoroughly disgusted with Tim Russert. Today's Meet the Press featured a panel of Democratic political consultants Bob Shrum and James Carville facing Carville's wife and Dick Cheney adviser Mary Matalin and Republican operative Mike Murphy, former consultant to the likes of McCain, Romney, and Jeb Bush. Towards the end of Meet the Press today, Russert in a playfully (?) malicious move first quoted Shrum from his new book, No Excuses, in a passage about his first meeting with Carville. I forget the adjectives Shrum used, but the net effect was that he saw Carville as a maverick, a revelation, a weirdo and the future of the party. Matalin embraced/slapped her husband on the back and pronounced, "That's my man!" Carville chortled, and it was a rather cute husband-and-fond-wife moment. Then Russert zoomed in for the kill, quoting Shrum quoting Carville describing (way back then) his dating strategy as a bachelor: "Go for ugly early."

Awkward! The Carvilles, as well as both Shrum and Russert, are certainly well aware that Mary's looks are often disparaged -- I can remember at least two nasty memes where she she's alternately compared to Dracula and the Crypt Keeper. Well, Carville is one gallant and protective husband. He didn't waste a beat in declaring that it certainly turned out all right in the end, his having married his lovely wife. Asked by Russert to explain what he'd meant by "going for ugly," Carville blustered but was clearly at a loss for a response.

I can't conceive of a single reason Russert would pose such a question other than an intent to discomfit the Carvilles and/or drive a spike through the relationship between the two Democratic advisers, Shrum and Carville. I feel confident that he succeeded on both counts. But like so many actions, there was an unintended consequence: he showed himself to be both petty and cruel. No journalistic purpose was served, yet I expect that the incident will now receive widespread notice. Timmeh's name, face and voice will receive considerable exposure. I just hope that the headline is, "Tim Russert: He's no gentleman."

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