Is Steve Schmidt really a liberal? I’ve begun to draw that conclusion, because once again, he’s out there bad-mouthing Sarah Palin, and I’ve just about had it with his lip. It’s not that he doesn’t have freedom of speech, but that I want every politician in sight to pay attention to how this campaign strategist is attempting to rescue his own reputation by running down the ticket for which he once worked. If you’re a budding politician, and you need the services of a campaign adviser, you might want to consider what this guy and those like him will do to you after their strategies fail. It also points out something more important that I find simply galling: When the media would question the motives of a former campaign adviser who said such things about a Democrat candidate, they have no problem accepting at face value, and without challenge almost anything said by one who had worked for a conservative.
Consider this latest bash-fest in the Caucus-blog section of NYTimes.com, where it’s open season on Gov. Palin, pushing a narrative that continues the Blame Change without a single word devoted to Steve Schmidt’s lack of credibility:
But in Republican circles, there is a clear focus on avoiding the problems that marked the Palin selection: a rushed process failed to ask basic questions about the prospective running mate, and put short-term electoral concerns ahead of readiness to assume the presidency.
“One of the mistakes we made in the Palin process was one of assumptions,” said Steve Schmidt, one of the McCain aides who guided the process. “We immediately made the assumption that anyone with ‘Governor’ next to her name has a base level of knowledge of history and policy that in a post-Palin world it isn’t necessarily safe to assume.”
If we’re going to discuss assumptions of dubious merit, I would prefer we start with another: It’s ordinarily the operative assumption of candidates that their campaign staff won’t use their insider position to personal advantage at some future date, particularly by smearing their former client(s.) Of course, this is a terrible assumption for any candidate to make, particularly if they’re conservative, but most particularly if the adviser’s name is Steve Schmidt.
Schmidt is the man who advised Senator McCain, the 2008 GOP Presidential nominee, and suggested to him that the idea to suspend the campaign and make a big splash out of riding into Washington to solve the financial crisis, and then head out of town as the conquering hero. Of course, the problem with all of that is the requirement that Washington DC will play along, and that you’ve laid the actual legislative groundwork for such a move. Schmidt tried to do it on the cheap, and what it looked like instead was an admission of culpability for the banking crisis, and it inflicted serious damage to the McCain-Palin ticket.
This was when the rescue plan for Schmidt’s reputation was hatched, and since he didn’t want to point a finger at his boss, he needed another fall-guy, but the only one plausible was a woman. Sarah Palin was a relatively unknown commodity, and it was therefore much easier to make her out as having been the problem. Besides, his pals in the media hated her, so it would be an easy sell. The strategy moved forward and Schmidt and his pals directed the blame at Gov. Palin.
Richard Stevens, writing for the Times, seems to happily pick up this ball and run with it, and not once in his misleading article does he question the veracity of Schmidt’s claim, since it lays the ground work for Stevens’ thesis: “After Palin, Expect a More Intense Vetting Process.” I would suggest an alternate title, were Stevens up to it, though apparently, he’s not:
“After Schmidt, Conservative Candidates Should Watch Their Backs.”
This would at least be more fitting, and infinitely more suited to the facts.