Politics

When Opposites Attract: 3 Political Odd Couples We Can Learn From

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It’s Election Day, which hopefully augers an imminent end to the political arguments that have grown in volume since the 2012 campaign began around the time Studio 54 opened and have reached a fever pitch this past week. Traditionally these squabbles rage between the young-ish and their increasingly cantankerous parents. But a recent New York Times article discussed a less common source of debate: couples on opposite sides of the political aisle.

Some of these unions are marital, some devised for entertainment and others opportunistic.

The story notes that roughly three-fourths of married couples vote for the same candidate and that conjugal houses divided address their differences more respectfully and reluctantly than either partner would with that drunken codger, Uncle Barney. But tempers are bound to flare at some point. And the morning-after gloater — whichever significant other voted for the winner — might start to empathize with Bill Clinton, as he or she spends bedtime exiled to the living room couch.

Luckily, Washington and Hollywood have provided a few examples for the odd political odd couple. Some of these unions are marital, some devised for entertainment and others opportunistic. But all of them can help you deal with any fallout between you and your partner due to discrepancies at the polls.

James “Ragin’ Cajun” Carville and Mary Matalin

The sine qua non of strange Beltway bedfellows, Carville and Matalin have been happily married since 1993 despite his integral role in getting Bill Clinton elected the previous year and her having worked with seemingly every top Republican politician since the Reagan administration.

The secret to their success at not wringing each other’s throats has been a refusal to discuss politics in private. When Carville and Matalin have acknowledged their Blue-Red differences, it’s been during lucrative college lecture tours, the occasional Sunday kaffeeklatsch and the unforgivably short-lived Steven Soderbergh series K-Street. Any infighting is defused with humor. “We [get along despite political conflicts] the way everybody else does it in any marriage and it goes by one rule, which is: ‘I’m out of estrogen and I have a gun,’” says Matalin.

Chris Christie and Barack Obama

Any political bickering in the wake of Hurricane Sandy would have been unseemly. Still, it was heartening in this day of profound political rancor to see the Republican governor of New Jersey break party orthodoxy and laud President Obama for his handling of the devastation. The voluble, corpulent Christie and the slim, cool customer Obama would be a study in contrast even if they had similar takes on teachers’ unions. Christie has precious little nice to say about anyone, and his Obama adoration could be interpreted as a shrewd move with the G.O.P. star maybe gearing up for—God help us—the 2016 campaign. But Sandy made this union necessary and relegated skepticism to the minds of the most jaded Washington wonks.

Ann Coulter and Bill Maher

Ann Coulter would strip naked and do the twist in front of a 7-11 security camera if it meant finding a television audience. Bill Maher has famously eclectic taste in women and cringes at the very thought of political labels. But many of his stances—he’s for same-sex marriage and legalizing marijuana—lean Democratic. So it’s predictably explosive when the blue state’s bete noire and the libertarian libertine exchange barbs on HBO’s Real Time With Bill Maher or a series of live debates like they did at Radio City Music Hall in 2009.

Coulter and Maher might play up their differences for the camera, or they might run for the hills should they bump into each other in a setting that couldn’t move pricy tickets or ad space. But the fact that two of the most bombastic voices on diametric ends of the political spectrum can share the same stage at all should give the one-quarter of opposing couples at least a 50-50 chance of making it all the way.

Plus: How About We… Vote! (And Then Go On an Election Night Date)

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