Reading the NY Times magazine piece on the McCain campaign, and when this election is over and done with, Steve Schmidt is not going to look good. Going through the article, almost every piece of fail was birthed and nursed into maturity by Schmidt, starting with this gem:
The smartest bit of political wisdom he ever heard was dispensed by George W. Bush one spring day at the White House residence in 2004…
With that as your starting point, you can see where this baby is heading. Some snippets:
Scene by scene, McCain failed to deliver the performance that had been promised. Of course, this was no mere movie. America was in crisis. Perhaps with the Bush theory in mind, Steve Schmidt had advised McCain to “go in all the way” on the financial crisis so as to reveal his candidate’s true character.***
“For better or for worse, our campaign has been fought from tactic to tactic,” one senior adviser glumly acknowledged to me in early October, just after Schmidt received authorization from McCain to unleash a new wave of ads attacking Obama’s character. “So this is the new tactic.”***
“Well, going forward, that’s what you should say,” Schmidt replied. He encouraged McCain to denounce the Democrats for advocating a withdrawal of troops — a kind of surrender in the face of victory. Thus did Schmidt initiate the No Surrender Tour late in the summer of 2007, a push through the early primary states that saw John McCain surrounded by war veterans while he lashed out at weak-kneed war critics.***
Regardless, this summer Schmidt sought to convince his voluble candidate that the press was no longer his friend. By July, a curtain was literally drawn to separate McCain from the reporters traveling on his plane. He no longer mingled with them, and press conferences were drastically curtailed.***
Eventually, it was Schmidt who blurted out the epiphany concerning Obama. “Face it, gentlemen,” he said. “He’s being treated like a celebrity.”
The others grasped the concept — a celebrity like J-Lo! or Britney! — and exultation overtook the room.***
Then for a half-hour or so, the group reviewed names that had been bandied about in the past: Gov. Tim Pawlenty (of Minnesota) and Gov. Charlie Christ (of Florida); the former governors Tom Ridge (Pennsylvania) and Mitt Romney (Massachusetts); Senator Joe Lieberman (Connecticut); and Mayor Michael Bloomberg (New York). From a branding standpoint, they wondered, what message would each of these candidates send about John McCain? McInturff’s polling data suggested that none of these candidates brought significantly more to the ticket than any other.
“What about Sarah Palin?” Schmidt asked.
And on and on and on it goes, with one person’s fingerprints on every single piece of fail. And that is just from the first few pages of the nine page story.
Really, read the whole thing. It terrifies me that there is still a chance these guys could win.
And by the way- Sarah Palin was not vetted one tiny bit. They had no clue what they were getting into, and someone could make a hell of a blog post by going back and chronicling the right-wing noise machine and blogger pushback in which they asserted she was thoroughly vetted, because this piece just blows that BS out of the water.