A few years back my agency hired this oddest of couples for a speaking engagement. You know these two: James, the off-the-rails, rabid Democratic consultant, and Mary, though calmer and more polished, the just as all-in Republican.
They agree on nothing of substance politically yet have been, it appears, happily married for many years.
After introductions, they proceeded to ham & egg it for an hour or so, poking spirited fun at each other and their respective patrons, telling semi-out of school stories about the most interesting political characters of our time. Great fun and exactly why we hired them.
Listening to them carry on, it’s really hard to process how two people could virulently disagree on everything political and still share the same roof — indeed, the same bed.
Then comes the Q and A, and after a few benign, forgettable questions, one guy rises up and asks the question that was on everyone’s mind, but which no one else had the stones to ask.
“So tell me,” he said contemptuously. “Are you two cynical about politics or marriage? Which is it?”
Carville’s face went beet red. He looked at me, as if to say: “Who let this classless toad in?”
Still, he gathered himself and offered his standard, brief, vanilla response to this predictable question, explaining that they’re able to compartmentalize, keeping politics out of the home life, which seems improbable, but who knows.
When I saw them both later James came after the guy again. “Could you believe that guy?”
Indeed, I could. Easily.
“James, yes, the guy was rude, but how you two stay married while fighting hammer and tong about all things you hold dear politically is an enigma to every audience you speak before. You know it’s your calling card and why we, and others, hire you as a couple. You should be more willing to talk about it openly. You should be proud of it.”
Truth is, the answer to the guy’s question is that they’re cynical about neither marriage nor politics. Their ability to live harmoniously together and still vehemently disagree about so much of importance may well astound the rest of us, but it’s no act. They’re the real deal.
The important point here is that their relationship teaches us that love does not require homogeneous thinking. Indeed, their union may suggest that the deepest of understanding may only be possible in the face of profound differences. That they have been able to forge an enduring marriage and still honor their stridently divergent views speaks volumes about their love for each other. Quite exceptional, actually.