Former McCain senior campaign strategist Steve Schmidt sat down with MSNBC’s Morning Joe Monday morning and spoke candidly about his role in the 2008 presidential campaign, saying HBO’s Game Change was largely true.
“I think it was very accurate,” Schmidt acknowledged. “For all of us in the campaign, it really rang true. It gave you a little bit of PTSD at times. It did for me.But, look, I think it’s a story of when cynicism and idealism collide. When you have to do things necessary to win, to try to get in office to do the great things you want to do for the country and I think it showed a process of vetting that was debilitated by secrecy, that was compartmentalized, that failed, that led to a result that was reckless for the country and I think when you look back at that race, you see this person who is just so phenomenally talented at so many levels, an ability to connect but also someone who had a lot of flaws as someone running, you know, to be in the national command authority who clearly wasn’t prepared.”
“Politically, she was a net positive to the campaign,” Schmidt observed. “John McCain lost that race because the global economy imploded in the middle of September, and we were outspent by $250 million. I think a net negative in the sense that someone was nominated to the vice presidency who was manifestly unprepared to take the oath of office should it become necessary. And as it has become necessary many times in America.”
“Well, I was part of a team that settled on the result, you know. I didn’t wake up one day and say ‘let’s pick her,’” Schmidt explained. “But there’s a scene in the movie where I’m saying to Senator McCain — it’s almost verbatim– the conversation that happened, saying I would rather lose by ten points than lose by one point saying, ‘did we do everything we can to win?’ And for me, the experience on this campaign is that there are worse things than losing.”
“When a result happens that puts someone who is not prepared to be president on the ticket, that’s a bad result,” Schmidt added. “I think the notion of Sarah Palin being President of the United States is something that frightens me, frankly. And I played a part in that. And played a part in that because we were fueled by ambition to win. And I think that ambition to win, to victory is what drives people in politics. It is a chess match in a lot of ways, but that result in how we got there is something that troubles me a lot.”
Steve Schmidt is a political campaign consultant. Or rather, he was. It’s doubtful anyone would trust him now. Along with Nicolle Wallace he is responsible for most or all the negative stories about Sarah Palin portrayed in the book Game Change and the movie of the same name. In most professions it is considered unethical to kiss and tell about your clients.
As we all know, McCain-Palin lost the election. In the weeks and months that followed the election Schmidt and Wallace did something unheard of – they began leaking information to the media blaming the loss on Sarah. They may have hoped to remain anonymous but it soon became clear who the sources were.
The original version was that Sarah was the reason McCain lost. The problem with that story was it didn’t fit the narrative of “Obama the unbeatable.” It didn’t fit the facts either.
The current version is that Sarah shook up the race but that she was/is unqualified to hold the office. At least that’s progress.
No one, including Sarah, has ever claimed that in the fall of 2008 she had all the training and experience necessary to hold the office of President. But she wasn’t running for that job, she was running for Vice President.
As a council member and Mayor of Wasilla she didn’t have to deal with the issue of Israel and Palestine. As Chairperson of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission she didn’t have to deal with NATO and the former Soviet Union. As Governor of Alaska she didn’t need to know about the finer points of the dispute between India and Pakistan.
She was a full time governor and in her spare time she was a wife and mother. That would keep anybody busy. So when exactly was she supposed to become an expert in foreign policy?
But ignorance and inexperience can easily be cured. Let’s assume for the moment that John McCain had won the election. What would Sarah have been doing the past three years?
She would have been attending a lot of briefings. She would have been reading stacks of information about every issue under the sun, foreign and domestic. She would have been heavily involved in negotiations with Congress and Cabinet discussions. She would have been gaining knowledge and experience.
While Sarah hasn’t increased her level of experience in the last three years she definitely has raised her knowledge level. Speeches and papers could easily be ghost-written, but if you take the time to listen to her in interviews it is obvious that she is well-informed on a wide variety of issues.
Which brings us to the last smear originating from Schmidt and Wallace. If you were to believe them then Sarah Palin is emotionally unfit to lead. But all the evidence to support this comes from just two sources – Schmidt and Wallace. And they won’t even make those allegations publicly.
I’m guessing that Schmidt and Wallace will be joining Dick Morris and Ed Rollins as members of the dolchstoß media. As long as Sarah has a career, so will they.