How Steve Schmidt blew up the McCain campaign and is attacking Sarah Palin to keep the heat off of himself.
Is Sarah Palin is the biggest threat to the corrupt, big government, crony capitalist kickback establishment culture in modern political memory? But what about Ronald Reagan…– While eventually Ronald Reagan was able to create a massive power-base from the ground up with massive popular support, he never went after the elite media or after bad apples in the GOP like Governor Palin has.
With lobbying, corruption, and crony favors in Washington now at an all time high the Democrats have become the party of Wall Street, corrupt crony capitalist, big government “A”; and while there are still some honest hold outs (Bachmann, DeMint, Paul, Sauder, Pence, etc) much of the GOP leadership is still the party of big, corrupt, crony capitalist government “B”. The exit polls in the last election showed this very clearly when voters said that the Republican Party used to stand for something but had lost their way.
Voters had learned that most Republicans in Congress circa 2008 were not the same stock that took over Congress in 1994 and worked so well with President Clinton in 1996 and 1998 to balance the budget, reign in spending, cut taxes and pass the hugely successful (and popular) welfare reform package that helped so many people get back to work. It is no secret that John Kasich, the GOP House Budget Chairman who was the architect of that success has been none too pleased with the House Republicans’ lack of leadership and financial discipline since 2004.
After taking devastating electoral defeats in 2006 and 2008, some wings of the Republican Party still have not learned their lesson. For example: Eight Republicans voted for the 1300 page, corporate favor and pork lined energy tax bill that amounts to the largest tax increase in U.S. history. A bill that almost no one had read when they voted for it.
Members of that big government wing of the Republican Party talk about small, common sense government at election time, but history has proved beyond doubt that they do not govern that way. While not at election time the big government wing bashes the more Reaganite and fiscally responsible wing of the GOP in the media. Of course, the elite media being very hostile to conservatives, goes along with such bashing gleefully. John McCain was the elite media’s favorite Republican because he was happy to be used as a tool to bash people in his own party. John McCain used to say that the elite media was his constituency. McCain learned just how far that gets you when you run against a far left Democrat. McCain was praised by the elite media until the primary battle was over and hours after McCain had the nomination secured the NY Times (in an article that got them sued for libel) printed a baseless and unsourced thinly veiled allegation that McCain was having an affair with a 40 year old lobbyist. That was just the beginning (LINK).
Did the big government wing of the GOP learn it’s lesson in the face of two stark defeats in recent election history? The big government wing seems desperate to stop another 1994 like “Republican Revolution” and is back to currying favor with the elite media by bashing conservatives. The target of targets for months has been Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.
Vanity Fair published an unsourced, half truth filled attack piece on Palin (LINK) by Todd Purdum that has been refuted/exposed reasonably well by National Review (LINK) and the Weekly Standard (LINK). Todd Purdum wrote a similarly unsourced nasty hit piece on the Clintons late in the last primary (LINK) [when you follow the link also be sure to compare the Obama picture with the Clinton picture which presents a narrative all it’s own – Editor].
Here is what Bill Clinton had to say about Purdum and about some of the elite media’s biased coverage (LINK with audio):
“[He’s] sleazy,” he said referring to Purdum. “He’s a really dishonest reporter. And one of our guys talked to him . . . And I haven’t read [the article]. There’s just five or six blatant lies in there. But he’s a real slimy guy,” the former President said.
When I reminded him that Purdum was married to his former press spokesperson Myers, Clinton was undeterred.
“That’s all right– he’s still a scumbag,” Clinton said…
“You know he didn’t use a single name, cite a single source in all those things he said.. It’s just slimy.
It’s part of the national media’s attempt to nail Hillary for Obama. It’s the most biased press coverage in history. It’s another way of helping Obama. They had all these people standing up in this church cheering, calling Hillary a white racist, and he didn’t do anything about it. The first day he said ‘Ah, ah, ah well.’ Because that’s what they do– he gets other people to slime her. So then they saw the movie they thought this is a great ad for John McCain–maybe I better quit the church. It’s all politics. It’s all about the bias of the media for Obama. Don’t think anything about it.”
“But I’m telling ya, all it’s doing is driving her supporters further and further away– because they know exactly what it is– this has been the most rigged coverage in modern history– and the guy ought to be ashamed of himself. But he has no shame. It isn’t the first dishonest piece he’s written about me or her.”
Clinton goes on to say exactly how a piece like this gets generated. A writer decides that they want to write a hit piece, talk to a few political enemies of that person and report every allegation against them as fact with no attempt to present some objective truth. In fairness, while the Clinton’s do not always tell the truth, he is spot on in these comments. When Hillary Clinton’s communications advisor Howard Wolfson says repeatedly that they have to come on Fox News to get a fair shake, when Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity are going after NBC News for their bias against Hillary, well you know it’s bad. Hillbuzz and PUMApac, both sites of those who supported Clinton in the campaign, have done a meticulous job of reporting on the outrageous media bias against Hillary and Governor Palin.
Enter Steve Schmidt
When asked by NBC news about his “sources” Purdum said , “I don’t want to get into sources and methods”. Of course he doesn’t. Politico.com was able to track down some of the unsourced comments back to former McCain chief campaign strategist Steve Schmidt (LINK).
The vitriol also suggests the degree to which Palin remains a Rorschach test not simply to Republicans nationally but within a tight circle of elite operatives and commentators, many of whom seem ready to carry their arguments in 2012. Was Palin a fresh talent whose debut was mishandled by self-serving campaign insiders, or an eccentric “diva” who had no business on the national stage?
Politico’s instincts are spot on, and it is very likely Steve Schmidt who is fueling the “hate Palin” flames behind the scenes in the elite media.
So why would Schmidt and a handful of other big government Republican’s want to keep attacking Sarah Palin? There is a long list of reasons, but let’s start with Schmidt.
Schmidt was on the verge of winning the election for his candidate until McCain suspended his campaign to help pass the TARP crap sandwich bailout bill. Up until that weekend McCain/Palin’s numbers were on the rise in spite of being outspent by the Obama campaign. Sarah Palin gave the most effective political speech at a convention in 30 years, and John McCain said at the convention that he was going to name names, the corrupt and the pork spenders were going to be outed by name and he promised that we would “know who they are”. McCain wasn’t serious. When McCain voted for that bailout bill with hundreds of pork amendments on it, it was if he took a stake and drove it through the very heart of his own brand. The “maverick” fight the corrupt spending brand for the McCain ticket was destroyed. All credibility was lost. The emperor had no clothes.
The number one rule of any campaign is to never, ever, ever violate your own brand and the McCain campaign did just that with Steve Schmidt at the helm. Schmidt either created a campaign brand that wasn’t honest, or he failed to keep his candidate from sabotaging the campaign brand, both of which means that Schmidt should never run a campaign again. If McCain was dead set on sabotaging the campaign brand Schmidt should have resigned to help save his career.
This writer believes that suspending the campaign and the decision for McCain to support the bailout was supported by Schmidt and he didn’t make the connection that he was about to trash his own brand. We would know if Schmidt had fought hard with McCain to keep him from those actions because it would have been leaked [by the way what is stopping McCain from naming names now, the corruption and corporate favors from Congress now are off the chart, where is the outrage? – editor]
Schmidt is trying to keep the focus off of his failure by keeping the ball on Palin and he hopes that by continuing to trash her in Washington circles that he can get a job with one of the other 2012 presidential candidates.
Schmidt has an ideological axe to grind against Palin as he has made it very clear that he very much opposes religious and social conservatives (LINK). Schmidt supported McCain when he was the poster child for the so called “moderate lets get along and play nice with Democrats that we know full well are corrupt” Republican. The type of Republican that voters have tossed out of office for two elections in a row.
Palin is anything but that type of Republican.
Sarah Palin outed and very publicly tore down corporate corruption ring that owned much of the Republican Party machine in Alaska. Much of the Republican machine in Alaska still hates her for that (LINK, 2). While some Republicans talk about “naming names” Palin fights corrupt people in her own party fearlessly and ruthlessly. If Governor Palin is ever President Palin you can expect to see some Republicans and Democrats being carted off in handcuffs.
Palin used her overwhelming popular support to force very tough new ethics laws in Alaska and she made real cuts to state government spending. Palin cut off the money train for plenty of the corrupt in Alaska, especially in the so called competitive bidding process that lent itself to cronyism before the reforms (like why it is she stopped that bridge project in Ketchikan – LINK). These are not the kind of reforms a big government wing of the GOP would like to see implemented, because they have gotten wealthy just talking about them and doing the opposite. The prospect of a Palin presidency is bad for them because she means business.
Schmidt, as the Politico article link above makes clear, is very hostile to Bill Kristol, the editor of the Weekly Standard. The Weekly Standard is a very influential conservative publication that holds Republicans who talk one way and govern another to account. The Weekly Standard was quite favorable towards Governor Palin’s record in Alaska.
It is not enough that Sarah Palin is the embodiment of everything the corrupt, big government wing of the GOP opposes, because there are some in the GOP who are very dedicated to those ideals as well. They fear her because Palin has demonstrated the ability to generate larger crowds than Obama has on campaign events and has also proved that she is a fund raising machine the likes of which the Republican Party has never seen. They have to destroy her now, if they can, because if Sarah Palin hits the stump in earnest she will be able to outspend her opponents by real margins and that is what the smear campaign against her is all about.
By the way, notice how her detractors never talk about her accomplishments as Mayor and Governor? They never get into policy that she has pushed for and executed. Think about it.
UPDATE – Former McCain staffer Patrick Hynes comments:
And what did the lovely Governor of Alaska do to deserve this morning thrashing? Um … she had the gall to be the subject of a Vanity Fair hit piece by Todd Purdum.
That’ll learn her.
Look, I worked on the McCain campaign. Palin had her shortcomings, but she also brought some incredible strengths to the campaign. And perhaps the McCain staffers who continue to trash the governor are deflecting attention away from how remarkably screwed up and dysfunctional the operation was even before the Palin pick. What I don’t understand is this: Why would anyone hire a bunch of campaign staffers after watching how viciously they are attacking their former employer?
UPDATE II – National Review concludes it was Schmidt too – LINK.
UPDATE III – Tammy Bruce commentary –
UPDATE IV – Glenn Beck commentary –