Memo to famous Washington personalities: marry a person of the opposite party. There can be big money in it. As skilled as James Carville and Mary Matalin may be in offering political advice and strategy, aren’t they just regulars in the punditocracy without each other?
Oh, how they owe the producers of the “The War Room”! The documentary about the 1992 Clinton campaign did a brilliant job of portraying the oddness of Carville dating Matalin. He was the boss of the Clinton effort and she was a Bush principal strategist.
Their romance had to be put on hold until election day. But how could there be love with such political division? America was fascinated.
Since then, they’ve married and continue to oppose one another publicly with their fierce advocacy for Democrats (Carville) and Republicans (Matalin). Some crazily still don’t understand it.
It has worked spectacularly for them, landing them fortunes for speaking engagements and TV gigs. They remain regular commentators on cable TV and other political talk shows, which just burnishes their brands and brings more cash.
No question Carville is engaging -- and Matalin can launch some admirable barbs. Both are very smart, and Carville did a masterful job in 1992. But without their marriage, does CNN come calling as often?
Matalin worked for Dick Cheney early in the Bush administration, and Carville has done some campaign advising. But over the past 20 years, has either done much to give them more insight than the next pundit?
Give them immense credit for managing their images brilliantly. But how much longer can they capitalize on the love with division thing?
Apparently a lot. They're doing some shilling for Maker's Mark bourbon in that vein. And Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating is launching an ad campaign going all in with it. It may work, but the conceit is getting old and sort of low-hanging fruit from a creative standpoint.
In the Mitsubishi ads, the two are seen arguing over comfort vs. cost-cutting. At one point, Carville asks Matalin why the temperature has been changed, and an exchange playing off famed sayings from the Clinton '92 campaign ensues.
“I thought you were for change,” Matalin says.
“The issue in this house is my comfort,” he says.
“It’s the energy bill, stupid,” she says.
It’s a little too clichéd. So is the Carville-Matalin thing altogether. That's until one puts reputation on the line with a leading position in another campaign.