Via Mediaite, Exhibit A in why John Podhoretz’s review of “Game Change” is titled “Back Stab.” Actually, scratch that; this is Exhibit Z. Schmidt’s getting more attention for it now because the movie’s getting attention but he’s been dumping on Palin publicly for more than two years and privately for who knows how long. (Leaks from unnamed staffers began less than a week after election day and Palin allies inside the campaign warned weeks earlier that they were coming.) This is his job now, I think — doing sporadic cable-news cameos as some sort of RINO Dr. Frankenstein who created a grassroots monster and has to atone by killing it. Michael Goldfarb, who left the Weekly Standard to join the McCain campaign’s communications team, has had enough:
I can’t speak to the film, because I can’t bring myself to watch it.
Other loyal McCain staffers I’ve spoken to have had the same reaction. While a few senior aides from the McCain campaign collaborated with the authors of Game Change and painted a picture of John McCain and Sarah Palin as so craven or ill-informed or incompetent that no handler could have gotten them elected, the reality is that John McCain was the better man and would have made a better president.
We lost that campaign partly because of events beyond our control, and partly as a result of bad counsel given by the same people who are apparently so flatteringly portrayed in this movie. John McCain deserved better than to be betrayed by his own top aides, and true to form he has honorably stuck by Gov. Palin even as she’s been smeared in the press over and over again by the same self-serving former staffers. I only hope that the Romney campaign takes notice of what’s happened here.
Says J-Pod, “The movie presents a moral case for the disreputable conduct of aides who, we can presume, fearlessly drop dirty dimes anonymously to save their own standing in the liberal culture from which they desperately wish not to be excluded.” Is that the explanation — that Schmidt is desperate to stay in the media’s good graces, maybe with an eye to a gig as a pundit? I’m not sure what he’d bring to a job like that besides paint-by-numbers Palin criticism for the MSNBC crowd. He could, I suppose, try to fill a niche as a more moderate Karl Rove, the campaign insider who knows how the process works and who loathes the right almost as much as his interviewers do, but Rove is a marquee name whereas right now Schmidt is really just “that guy who Woody Harrelson played.” Maybe he’s planning to rebrand himself as a strategist who caters to Republican candidates who disdain their own base? After the dismal failure of the Huntsman campaign, John Weaver’s likely done. Time for someone else to inherit that prized role.
The best part here is when he deflects a question about his own role in choosing Palin by saying, “Well, I was part of a team that settled on the result.” Click here and scroll down to “Narrative 4” to remind yourself just how big a part he played in that particular result. Exit question: Knowing now how big a risk Schmidt is to sandbag a campaign once it’s over, why would any candidate hire him?