Moral cretinism

>> Monday, January 11, 2010

60 Minutes talks to Senator McCain's 2008 campaign manager, Steve Schmidt, and to John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, authors of a new book on the 2008 campaign, Game Change (it's worth waiting through the obligatory ads):

Some of what's there isn't anything new--Mrs. Palin told the "Can I call you Joe?" story in Going Rogue, although she obviously didn't characterize her other deficiencies during her debate prep as the meltdown Mr. Schmidt describes. On the other hand, there are some interesting revelations, like the claim that then-Senator Hillary Clinton was so convinced she was the presumptive nominee that she had a White House transition team in place even before she was the actual Democratic nominee. (Part of me wants to point to that as an example of why people like me opposed her nomination and were happy that she lost it, though I also have to say that at least it shows a level of foresight and commitment to doing things right that seems to have been notably absent from the Republican side of the fence--Mrs. Palin was basically picked and vetted by Google? Really?!)

But the biggest and most dispiriting revelation may be that Steve Schmidt is a douchebag. That may not surprise anyone, actually, and the nature of Schmidt's douchebaggery implicates Senator John McCain as a douchebag by extension for the same reason, but still. Mr. Schmidt is very open about the fact that his role was to offer political advice, without any apparent sense of responsibility for that advice. That is, Mr. Schmidt would, in his mind, have done his job admirably well if the selection of Mrs. Palin had resulted in a win for his client, Senator McCain, even if the direct consequence of that was the election of an American Vice-President singularly unsuited in temperament, ability or education for that high a national office. I believe it was Mark Twain who observed that man is the only animal that can blush or has cause to; looking at how unashamedly Mr. Schmidt sets forth the range and bounds of his responsibility, one might wonder what species he represents. Is Homo sapiens politicus capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring with sapiens sapiens?

The irresponsibility we're discussing is monstrously appalling. They would, one presumes, have allowed her to be elected with Senator McCain if the tide of history hadn't been busily sweeping the United States' first African-American president into the White House while sweeping out the hydrogen cyanide aftertaste of the Bush Administration. Even knowing, it would appear from what Mr. Schmidt is willing to confess now, that she was an ignorant, unstable woman who, when the going got rough, curled in on herself (I don't suppose the candidacy was something she could just quit as readily as a governorship; meanwhile, try to imagine Hillary Clinton--for all her faults--reacting to pressure the way Schmidt describes Palin withdrawing after the Couric interview). At what point is it the obligation of a political operator to look at the welfare of his nation and object--whether it's to pull the unfit candidate from the race or at least to resign in protest or disgrace?

I don't want to belabor the point. Political disagreements aside, I've known Republicans of good conscience and intent, friends and family alike who genuinely have their nation's welfare at heart even if I find their means to that end disagreeable in method or effect. Steve Schmidt did those folks a disservice when he dishonored his country by allowing a man he was attempting to promote as a national leader to run with a profoundly flawed person of degraded a calibre as Mrs. Sarah Palin. My friend, Janiece Murphy, recently published blog post nominating a "'Tard Of The Year"; with all affection and respect to Janiece, her list of candidates is one short--the winner, by a knockout, must be Steve Schmidt: irresponsible douchebag, unwise advisor, a man who seems oblivious to the way in which he betrayed his country and employer to a degree that has to be labeled "moral cretinism"; the only fair objection might be that he would more properly be the prize jackass of 2008, but going through Janiece's archives, I see that she long ago closed voting on that one.

Ladies and gentlemen, Steve Schmidt.


Chez Monday, January 11, 2010 at 5:44:00 PM EST  

You made essentially the same points Andrew Sullivan made today -- this is actually a pretty big compliment.

Nathan Monday, January 11, 2010 at 6:24:00 PM EST  

I watched that last night and had pretty much the same reaction. Most of the stuff was entertaining in a "Wheeee! Shadenfreude" sorta way. But Schmidt's attitude was just flat-out jaw droppingly obscene.

Janiece Monday, January 11, 2010 at 6:56:00 PM EST  

Eric, I'm afraid I'll have to say that ole Steve Schmidt is the winner of the "Douche of the Year," but not the "'Tard." The man isn't stupid, especially not in the same caliber as our current front runners, Sarah and Michele.

No, instead he is, as you assert, an incredible moral cretin, the likes of which I haven't seen in simply ages. So I'll hoist him up as the year's worst douche, either in 2008 or 2009 - host's choice.

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