This outpouring of back-stabbing vindictiveness and self-seeking puts me in mind of the 2008 McCain campaign, when strategists Steve Schmidt and Nicole Wallace leaked disparaging material about their vice presidential candidate even before Election Day. The tell-all mentality became more pronounced as soon as Sarah Palin was back in Alaska. Schmidt and Wallace became popular with the liberal press because they went out of their way to belittle and criticize their boss’ choice of running mate behind his back. What courage. Schmidt’s prize was an appointment as a MSNBC contributor and a ticket to the premiere of Game Change. Wallace got to listen to Whoopi Goldberg for an hour five days a week—more punishment than reward if you ask me. She has since been fired.
Yes, of course, using the media to bad mouth rivals and provide behind-the-scenes accounts is exactly “how the game is played.” But it is precisely this game that so disgusts the Republican base: Operatives who turn to media, social or otherwise, to settle scores and deflect criticism are the very face of Washington establishmentarianism, of the incest and cronyism, the duplicity and betrayal that the public opposes. You don’t have to make excuses. You don’t have to blame others. You don’t have to betray the confidence of your boss. And you certainly don’t have to do it before the body of the campaign is cold. The fact that so many consultants do all of these things nevertheless says something about the character of our political establishment: that it is inward looking, selfish, unaware, moronic.