St. Joseph’s Academy’s 150th Anniversary Speaker Series concluded on February 6 with Mary Matalin and James Carville. Serving as facilitator for the wide-ranging discussion was Pat Carville Hoffman, class of 1973, member of the Academy’s board of directors and one of James Carville’s sisters.
The couple, who have been married for 25 years, met in 1992 while Matalin worked on the campaign of President George H.W. Bush and Carville worked for his challenger, Democrat Bill Clinton. They talked about the circumstances surrounding their meeting and the early days of their relationship.
Matalin and Carville talked about their views of feminism. They discussed working in the White House, the terrorist attacks of September 11, building consensus and living in the technology age.
Carville said the ability to communicate is critically important in all walks of life. “My advice to you is read, write, read, write, read, write,” he said. “The ability to cogently and coherently express yourself in a limited space is a skill that is needed everywhere. And it’s really a skill. You can only do it by doing it again and again.”
Matalin bemoaned that the amount of information available at our fingertips that isn’t being used to its full capacity. “It’s ironic in this age of information, with our access to it, that we are no wiser for it,” she said. Her husband agreed.
“There is a proliferation of information. There are a million places to go to get information, but the civic I.Q. isn’t any higher,” he said. “You have to ask yourself, shouldn’t there be a relationship between availability of information and the amount of knowledge that people have? The answer is, it’s working more to the detriment because it allows you to be validated. You’re always going to go to the place and read or listen to the person you agree with. … So many people in the country are just talking to the same people.”
Matalin and Carville also talked about the valuable lessons learned in failure as well as the call to public service, public policy and women in politics.
Carville said SJA students are afforded a wonderful educational platform to prepare them for a world of opportunities. “There is no reason in the world why any of you girls can’t succeed to the extent of your dreams,” he said. “This is a world that is welcoming of you and welcoming of your talents. You go get ’em.”
Following their talk, Matalin and Carville entertained questions from the student body.
The talk was live streamed on SJA’s Facebook page. Watch it here
Mindy Brodhead Averitt
Photos by Jennifer M. Fontaine