Donna Brazile began her talk at Amherst College on Feb. 18 by noting that, while she has appeared as an extra in The Good Wife and House of Cards, after a long career as a Democratic insider, she probably belongs on a different type of show.
“After all these years in politics, I’m probably best suited to Game of Thrones,” she said, referring to a fantasy HBO series known for the bloody machinations of its characters.
“The only problem with being an actress,” she added, “is that I have to play myself and resist telling the director, ‘That’s not what Donna would say!’”
Equal parts humorous and sharp-witted, Brazile’s remarks at Stirn Auditorium included a vein of astute political observations. Throughout her talk, the capacity audience laughed with her and applauded with snapping fingers.
Brazile—an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, syndicated columnist, best-selling author and on-air contributor to CNN and ABC—has worked on every presidential campaign from 1976 through 2000, and is now a Democratic superdelegate.
From such a high political perch, Brazile formed a host of metaphors about the Republican side of the presidential race, from sports (“politics is like watching pro football, except in politics, there’s no penalty for an illegal formation or encroachment or a late hit”) to the Olympics (“there’s more striving for the bronze than the gold medal”) to a highway (“Trump and Cruz are driving by everybody by ignoring the rules”).
Brazile characterized Donald Trump as a “virtual carnival barker,” arguing that he’s created a new normal in both politics and media coverage.
“We try to fact-check Donald Trump,” she said. “The problem is, it’s like trying to test the moisture content of the ocean.”
But just when it seemed that Brazile would maintain a comic flair throughout, she pointed to the huge disparity between the hundreds of millions spent on campaigns and lackluster voter turnout.
“We live in a moment when we as citizens somehow abdicated the right to choose politicians,” she said. “It’s our duty and responsibility as citizens of this country to get out there and be a part of it.”
She called the Flint water crisis “immoral” and asked if no one had learned the lessons of Hurricane Katrina.
“If we’re going to be citizens and feel the full extent of what that means, we’re all going to have to pay attention to each other,” Brazile said.
In the question and answer session, Brazile elaborated on that theme, noting that Amherst students are of a generation that has “an incredible opportunity to shape the future.”
“We have to find ways to heal,” she said, “to find out what unites us, not only as Americans, but also as human beings.”