Predictions of a Pundit
James Carville urges students to make rain!
By Sara Friedman ’13
On the eve of election night 2010, political pundit James Carville spoke at Ithaca College about the future of politics in the United States. He predicted that the election would not be good for the Democrats.
“If you are a Democrat, there’s a hurricane coming tomorrow,” said Carville. “Everything is pretty pessimistic right now, and the question is, ‘How did we get here?’”
Carville is the 15th lecturer in the Park Distinguished Visitor Series, sponsored by the Roy H. Park School of Communications and made possible through the generosity of the Park Foundation.
“When I started thinking about my criteria for the Park distinguished visitor this year, I wanted someone with a heavy voice, a social consciousness, and a track record of very innovative and effective use of a variety of media,” says Diane Gayeski, dean of the Park School, as she introduced Carville. “Of course, who comes to mind other than our guest speaker for this evening.”
On cue, a projection screen dropped down, displaying the maxim, “Imitation is the best form of flattery.” That was followed by a video of celebrities from Saturday Night Live and The Daily Show parodying Carville. Then the real Carville joined Gayeski, clearly amused.
In his lecture, the speaker paraphrased philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel: “We learn from history that we do not learn from history,” he said, referencing the bank bailout and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. “When someone comes up to you and says, ‘This time it is different,’ say that it’s not.”
Carville encouraged students to get involved in public service and not stand on the sidelines of history. “What remains constant is that the more you put in, the more you get out,” he said. “I tell my students at Tulane that there are two ways you can go through life: you can make rain, or you can get rained on. It is an unthrilling way to go through life with an umbrella and a raincoat.”
Sarah Parker ’14 appreciated the way Carville spoke directly about the bank bailout and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“I didn’t know that much about him before, but I really liked how he addressed real issues that are happening and didn’t skirt around anything,” she said.
Although members of the Ithaca community attended Carville’s talk, his message was directed primarily at students.
“Don’t make the mistake that everyone made before you,” Carville advised. “Study history. Learn history. Believe that it’s different this time, but make a different world. Don’t go back to the country we have. Build the country we can have.”