Ed Driscoll

About Schmidt

Linking to the Buzzfeed article about an unnamed McCain staffer responding to Obama’s “the private sector is doing fine” mega-gaffe last week…

“McCain was trying to calm people at a moment of real crisis — i think his intentions were good,” one former top aide said in an email. “Obama’s just trying to build support for raising taxes and make the case for his own stewardship.”

Another former McCain aide was blunter.

“We very much look forward watching Team Romney put Obama’s head in a vice over this,” he emailed “What goes around comes around, assholes.”

… Moe Lane asks, “Where Was This Attitude in ’08?” As Moe writes, “I just want to know why the heck we didn’t see this attitude more, back in the day. And by ‘more’ I mean ‘at all.’”

Where was this attitude four years ago? It was submerged into a late campaign primal scream over the bias of the New York Times. Let’s flashback to what Stacy McCain wrote in early October of 2008:

I didn’t comment on it at the time, but I was shocked when Steve Schmidt lashed out at the New York Times on Sept. 22. Every word Schmidt said about the NYT being in the tank for Obama was true. But you don’t do that. Ever. Not in a campaign you have any hope of winning. It is one thing to criticize specific errors by specific reporters, but for a presidential campaign manager to call into question the fundamental integrity of a newspaper that more or less dictates news coverage at the three major broadcast networks? Uh uh. No way. Leave that work to surrogates. Then Wednesday, in an interview with the Associated Press, McCain himself got all hostile with the reporter. That is tantamount to an admission of defeat.

Evidently, Schmidt and the Gray Lady have since patched things up in a big way, with Schmidt receiving a fawning profile in tomorrow’s Sunday Times titled “A Career Resurrected After McCain and Palin”:

Other advisers to Mr. McCain have scurried into obscurity. By contrast, Mr. Schmidt — television commentator and public relations executive, delivering speeches and wisdom on the politics of the day — has a higher profile than ever, and stands as evidence that there may be little cost to being associated with a losing campaign and a disastrous political misjudgment, as Mr. Schmidt now describes the Palin selection.

Mr. Schmidt, who walked the red carpet at the Washington and New York openings of HBO’s “Game Change,” has become a minor celebrity in nonpolitical circles: Mr. Harrelson, in an interview last week, described him as a “buddy” and recounted how he persuaded Mr. Schmidt to be his date to the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner in April, and to the exclusive pre- and after-parties, no matter that the night happened to fall on Mr. Schmidt’s wedding anniversary.

“We went everywhere together,” Mr. Harrelson said. “We would be at a party, and people would say to me, ‘You know the guy you played is over there.’ And I was like ‘Yeah, I know. I came with him.’ At this point, I feel quite fond of him.”

Mr. Schmidt is the vice chairman for public affairs of one of the world’s biggest public relations firms, Edelman. He is a regular commentator on MSNBC, which has installed a remote camera in his sprawling rustic home. He is quoted on TV and in newspapers, including The New York Times.

Because, yeah, that’s what Republicanism — let alone conservatism — is all about: making friends with Woody Harrelson, HBO, MSNBC, and the New York Times. Schmidt now has access to the rarest of clubs — the Axis of Davids, where Mssrs. Frum, Brooks, and Gergen will be happy to give him a tour of T. Coddington Van Voorhees VII’s private country club.

Twitchy.com has the initial round-up of reaction to the article (which it describes accurately as a “drool bucket”) and the reaction from conservatives on Twitter — and those who envy this phase of Schmidt’s career:

Me? I think this grizzled politician had the healthier attitude, at least when it comes to the New York Times:

The story reminds me of something Marc Thiessen once told me about his former boss Jesse Helms.  When Thiessen brought Helms a draft letter to the editor complaining about something the Times had written about Helms, the Senator responded as follows: “Son, this is fine, and you can print it, but I want you to know that I don’t care what the New York Times writes about me, and nobody I care about cares what they say about me, either.”

Of course, to be fair, wanting to get in bed with the Gray Lady is a trait that Schmidt shares with his former boss, who was genuinely shocked when the liberal establishment media turned on him, and his cultivated “Maverick” shtick, when he ran in ’08. In contrast, at least at the start of his campaign, Mitt Romney signaled that he understands that the media will not be his friend and that Barack Obama does not walk on water. That attitude puts this year’s campaign — at least for the moment — several notches above its hapless predecessor.

Update: “You mean 2008 Wasn’t Sarah Palin’s fault?” Cue the Zarathustra theme from 2001: this is a watershed moment in the evolution of MSNBC.