With a supreme lack of irony or self-awareness, former Clinton operatives George Stephanopoulos and James Carville on Tuesday chided the "amazing" revelation that Arnold Schwarzenegger had an affair and a love child.
Appearing on Good Morning America, Carville said of the former California governor: "...He put himself out here, knowing there was all this scrutiny on his personal life. That was a really risky thing he did in even getting into politics, knowing this."
Stephanopoulos agreed with his War Room pal, enthusing, "It is pretty amazing. That's a good point." Carville, of course, repeatedly defended Bill Clinton against "scrutiny" of his adulterous affairs and once said of accuser Paula Jones: "Drag $100 bills through trailer parks, there's no telling what you'll find."
[See video below. MP3 audio here.]
While introducing the segment, Stephanopoulos marveled, "One of the amazing things about this story is that he was able to keep it a secret, for more than ten years. Even there was a lot of focus on his extramarital affairs when he first ran for governor."
The GMA anchor's political life included helping squash such stories for Clinton. On page 267 of his autobiography All Too Human, Stephanopoulos wrote, "My goal was to put Paula Jones in the category as Connie Hamzy [who accused Clinton of propositioning her]- women whose stories were so suspect that their accounts couldn't be dignified by the media."
A transcript of the May 17 segment, which aired at 7:08am EDT, follows:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's bring in James Carville on all this right now. And, James, I want to get to this and what it means to the Republican field in just a minute. But, first, that breaking news overnight from Arnold Schwarzenegger that he fathered a child more than ten years ago. One of the amazing things about this story is that he was able to keep it a secret, for more than ten years. Even there was a lot of focus on his extramarital affairs when he first ran for governor.
JAMES CARVILLE: It is pretty stunning. Of course, the first thing anybody thinks about is he has got children, I think 13 through 21. And, boy, they're really getting blind sided by this thing. And, you know, it's not going to stop. I mean, there's still any number of questions left to be answered and they're going to have to be answered. And the third thing is, he put himself out here, knowing there was all this scrutiny on his personal life. That was a really risky thing he did in even getting into politics, knowing this. It's a pretty amazing story.
STEPHANOPOULOS: It is pretty amazing. That's a good point. Okay, let's turn to Donald Trump. I guess the big question right there, was everyone punk'd by Donald Trump?
CARVILLE: First of all, Shakespeare would have loved this broadcast. We've gone from tragedy to comedy right away. I think the press actually did a good job, particularly Good Morning America, about getting Trump out there. This guy got out because he was- realized rather late that he was making a fool of himself. And that's what the political system does. You know, you have to remember, as our friend Mark Halperin pointed out, when Trump was talking about the non-birther foolishness and was sort of focusing on his economic message, he actually had some resonance out there. And with him gone and Huckabee gone, there's nobody on the popular side of the populous side of the Republican part of the equation right now.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And is there anyone out there that can fill that space? In past campaigns, we saw it filled by Ross Perot, Pat Buchanan as well. Is there anybody really filling it right now? Maybe Michele Bachmann in Minnesota.
CARVILLE: Maybe. You know, that's the only possibility I see. I wracked my brain last night. I wracked my brain driving in for the broadcast this morning. And it's hard to see. But, somebody's going to come in. No one has a focus on this. But that populist right was represented by Trump and Huckabee to some extent. And Bachmann's the only one of the current crop that I could see filling could fill that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Unless Palin decides to get in. Although she's been hurt over the last several months as well.
CARVILLE: Maybe Santorum, but I doubt it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: There is also just dissatisfaction among Republicans with the Republican field. With the hope that maybe there is someone out there really big. We look at the list of those that are likely to be running, that can come in and can really wow the field. Any wild cards?
CARVILLE: Jeb Bush. If Jeb Bush's name was Jeb Smith, it wouldn't be a race. I mean, he's the successful governor of a large state. He can raise a ton of money. He's a skilled politician. He got kind of an affable guy that people kind of like. He has stellar conservative credentials. It would be- on paper, I've never seen a stronger candidate. But, you know? He's obviously got the legacy issue.