Looking Back on R.J. Cutler's The War Room
by r.j. cutler
photography by joshua corgan
In the War Room: George Stephanopoulos and James Carville
Young, hopeful, and fanatically committed to the Clinton campaign, the key players from The War Room have since become true Washington insiders, going on to remarkable and influential careers. T hey exist as proof positive that Clinton wasn’t the only winner of that fabled election.
Then: Lead Campaign Strategist
Since: You name it, Carville’s pretty much done it—at least in the world of consulting. He has been a pundit, a trusted advisor, an educator, an author, and, on occasion, an actor and pitchman.
Arguably the most visible War Room alum, Carville, 67, made his mark with frequent television appearances and more frequent headline-grabbing quips.
Now: “Once you become a famous person, the only way to earn a living is by being a famous person,” muses Carville. He has been a member of the Tulane University political science department, a corporate and international political consultant, and a commentator for CNN.
Dee Dee Myers
Then: National Press Secretary
Since: Myers, 50, went to the White House as Clinton’s press secretary—the first woman in history to hold the position—and remained in that post for two years. Myers followed by advising several major political campaigns as well as the acclaimed television series The West Wing. In 2008 she published her best-selling book, Why Women Should Rule the World.
Now: Myers is managing director at The Glover Park Group, where she is involved with strategic communications and marketing objectives. She is also a popular political commentator and a contributing editor to Vanity Fair.
Then: Senior Strategist
Since: Following Clinton’s presidential win, Begala, 50, worked as a counselor at the White House, helping to define the administration’s agenda. His campaign consulting continued afterward, with stints advising candidates in races from Europe to Africa. But Begala is likely best known for his political analysis on CNN, where he cohosted Crossfire. He also authored several best-selling books, including Buck Up, Suck Up, and Come Back When You Foul Up.
Now: Begala remains one of CNN’s most respected political analysts. He is also an affiliated professor of public policy at Georgetown University.
Then: Campaign Advisor
Since: One of the most trusted Democratic strategists in the business, Donilon, 52, has secured elections for governors, Congressmen, and Senators, including Jon Corzine, John Kerry, Jack Reed, and Mark Udall. A lawyer with enviable connections, he is known for understanding how to ensure victory via comprehensive knowledge of the voter base and strategic media messaging.
Now: Donilon has worked with Joe Biden since the early ’80s, fostering a strong relationship and becoming a trusted advisor. He is now counselor to the vice president and will surely be instrumental in the run-up to the presidential election.
Then: Media Consultant
Since: As one of the savviest political consultants in the business, Grunwald has been part of several big-time Democratic campaigns, garnering wins for Senators Dick Blumenthal, Al Franken, Jeanne Shaheen, and Hillary Clinton, with whom she has remained close since the 1992 presidential race.
Now: As head of Grunwald Communications, she continues to dole out seasoned media advice to an assortment of clients. She is currently working on Senate campaigns for Amy Klobuchar, Tammy Baldwin, and Elizabeth Warren.
Stanley Greenberg, PhD
Then: Chief Pollster
Since: Touted as one of the best, Greenberg, 66, is a mastermind of polling. He has worked with Al Gore, Tony Blair, and Ehud Barak, as well as corporate clients such as Boeing and Microsoft. Colleagues say Greenberg is “the father of modern polling techniques,” and his accuracy is dead-on.
Now: Greenberg is CEO of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, where he continues to chart paths for polling progress. With Carville, he also cofounded Democracy Corps. In 2010, Greenberg was inducted into the American Association of Political Consultants Hall of Fame.
Celebrating the White House Correspondents’ Association’s annual dinner at Carnegie Library.