In The News › Pundit packs yucks, yells into speech on recovery

Apr 7, 2006

Source: Times-Picayune

Pundit packs yucks, yells into speech on recovery

Pundit packs yucks, yells into speech on recovery
Carville vows group to keep focus on state
Friday, April 07, 2006
By Brian Thevenot
Staff writer

After being introduced as “the most eccentric human being in America not under state care,” and
joking that he looks like he was sired during the “love scene in ‘Deliverance,’ “ political pundit
James Carville turned serious during a Thursday speech in New Orleans, passionately pushing for
a federally financed reconstruction of hurricane-ravaged levees and neighborhoods in his home
state.

Carville, the political strategist and former aide to President Clinton, didn’t merely talk to the
hundreds gathered at the Hilton for the Bureau of Governmental Research’s annual luncheon. He
shouted.

After breaking in the crowd with a few light jokes, Carville’s edgy Southern cadence grew to a yell
as he recounted the Katrina myths outsiders often brandish in arguments for letting the Louisiana
coast return to the sea.

“I almost hit somebody on TV when they started talking about ‘that corrupt levee board down
there,’ “ he said. “Gimme a break — the levee board mows the grass! If the levees broke because
of high grass, then come talk to me.”

Then there’s the one about how nobody should live in New Orleans because its below sea level.
“Every port in the world is below sea level!” Carville fumed. “You can’t build a port on a hill. You’re
going to build a port in Colorado?”

Carville, a renaissance media darling who has parlayed his witty punditry into a career as a TV
star and movie producer, also showed previews for his upcoming film, “All the King’s Men,” based
on the Pulitzer Prize-winning fictional take on former Louisiana Gov. Huey Long. Carville said he
would donate a portion of the movie’s proceeds to found a organization dedicated to keep
Louisiana’s plight in the public eye.

“If we’re not constantly screaming at people about what’s happening, they’re going to forget. . . .
They do it every day,” he said. “The problem with Louisiana is that our nature is to trust people too
much and say, “Eh, they’ll do it.’ “

In an interview afterward, Carville said the yet-to-be-named organization would include some
entertainers, musicians and other high-profile personalities from Louisiana and elsewhere. He said
the group would operate more like a public relations agency than a lobbying firm, telling and
retelling Louisiana’s storm story.

In his speech, Carville hit many of the high points stressed by the state’s politicians in arguing for
more federal aid: that Louisiana deserves a higher share of offshore oil revenue; that the city and
state already have offered clear rebuilding plans; and that, because the disaster stemmed from
federal engineering goofs in levee building, the federal government should take responsibility for
reconstructing flooded areas.

Then of course, there’s the seafood industry, which Carville asserted produces the country’s
highest quality seafood, if not the most.

“I’m sure Alaska outproduces us with that crap they call seafood up there,” he said. “It’s called
bait.”

Truth is, Carville said, New Orleans and much of the state remain in sorry shape. But its rich and
peculiar culture, along with its importance as a southern port, will be its salvation.

“My children would rather come here than anyplace else in the world,” he said.
. . . . . . .
Staff writer Sheila Grissett contributed to this report.
Brian Thevenot can be reached at bthevenot@timespicayune.com or (504) 826-3482.

Apr 7, 2006

Source: Times-Picayune

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