Steve Schmidt frequently has the urge to purge himself in public and this past weekend was at work again, spraying powerful words at the late Senator John McCain and surviving members of his family.
Schmidt is one of the smart professional donkeys who created the Lincoln Project, a twice-disgraced super-PAC staffed by former Republican agents. The Lincoln Project convinced liberals to pay them millions to bring their sophomore jokes to the campaign against Donald Trump.
As you’d expect, the Lincoln boys are flippant. They are smooth. But their most ascendant feature is their vanity – an airship of self-delusion. They actually believed they were saving democracy, a not inconsiderable ambition for the daily work hacks that had hitherto greased the skids of American politics.
To try to understand.
If you were lost in a crowd of fat balls running political campaigns, you could do like Steve Schmidt in 2018 and aspire to something more dignified. Schmidt announced that he was leave the “corrupt” and “immoral” Republican Party for the “only left-wing party in America that stands for what is right and decent and stands true to our Republic”.
Schmidt wanted to be the victim of a morality tale
If it sounds a bit like the 17th century, it’s because Schmidt’s Twitter posts are, as New York Magazine describes it, “marked by the melodramatic and grandiose style…thick with momentous statements about truth and justice.” ‘honor”.
On Sunday, Truth and Honor called on Schmidt to drop anchor at Substack and toss overboard the skeletons he had rescued from McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign.
As someone who switched sides and is now a creature of the left, Schmidt couldn’t just be the tragic figure in his moral tale. He had to be the victim.
“It’s a story about lying. Public lying. It’s a story about Senator John McCain’s lie and the damage he caused to many people including me. It’s also a story about my lying because that ultimately John McCain’s lie became mine.
“Over time, this lie got worse as I was abused by the family of the man I volunteered for. The burden of carrying this lie – while being attacked for 14 consecutive years by bully Megan (sic) McCain – finally met her end for me.
Attacking the McCains to save his own reputation
Schmidt used his opening paragraphs not just to consecrate his victimization, but to reveal the villain in the backstory. He had to be specific, because as you know, the left no longer hates John McCain, whose last act was to save Obamacare. He doesn’t hate Cindy McCain, who two years ago backed Joe Biden for president and is now ambassador to Rome.
But the left despises Meghan McCain, who is best known for her stint in the snake pit called ABC’s “The View,” playing the conservative eight-fang liberal pincushion.
Another view:Does Meghan McCain have a valid complaint against Elle magazine?
If you’re adept at playing left and offloading them with their money, as Schmidt is, you understand these distinctions.
So this was primarily an attack on Meghan McCain, and the target audience appears to be the political left. It feels like a salvage operation, trying to salvage what’s left of Schmidt and Lincoln’s tattered reputations, trying to get back into the news through someone else’s scandals, not his own.
This isn’t the first time Schmidt has played the victim.
Scandal had already torn apart the Lincoln Project.
As is known, this sad company has been widely accused of employing a partner who sexually harassed young men with invitations to have sex. John Weaver, one of Lincoln’s co-founders, “sent unsolicited and sexually provocative messages online” to as many as 21 men, The New York Times reported.
In some cases, Weaver “offered professional and personal assistance in exchange for sex”.
The Lincoln Brain Trust has been accused of moving too slowly on Weaver’s allegations and keeping him on the payroll after the first allegations surfaced.
In reaction, Schmidt took the opportunity to, what else, purge himself. Play the victim.
“Mr. Schmidt said the Weaver episode reignited his anger over the sexual abuse he suffered as a child,” The Times reported.
“‘I am incandescently angry about this,’ he said of Mr. Weaver’s actions. “I know the journey that awaits every young man who has trusted, feared and been abused by John Weaver .” ”
Now it’s smooth.
McCain didn’t hide his private stumbles
Much like Sunday’s Substack missive, in which Schmidt announced it was time to finally tell the truth he had submerged for 14 years, that John McCain had lied when he told the world he had no liaison with Beltway lobbyist Vicki Iseman.
“After the New York Times article – which accurately detailed this relationship – was successfully attacked and discredited by the campaign under my leadership, John McCain told me the truth behind the scenes at an event in the Ohio. Naturally, he was very concerned about this issue which could end the campaign. He kept saying, “The campaign is over. I reassured him that it was behind us.”
Is history breaking the McCain legacy? I doubt. McCain was a flawed man. He never hid that he had stumbled badly in his personal life. He was a bit of a thug at the US Naval Academy. He left his first wife for a young and wealthy heiress. Never preachy, he even faded away in his farewell speech to the US Senate.
What does he say of Schmidt, however, that the campaign under his leadership discredited four New York Times reporters. Then he waited 14 years to reveal himself publicly?
McCain unlikely to overlook Russians
He further alleged that McCain “turned a blind eye to the dealings of his top adviser, Rick Davis, who was making millions of dollars with his partner, Paul Manafort. Manafort was advancing the interests of the Russian Federation in Ukraine and throughout Eastern Europe.
This insinuation has particular resonance today as Russia invades Ukraine and commits crimes against humanity. But it is a slander against John McCain, who among American politicians understood earlier than most the essential nature of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
After George W. Bush said he looked into Putin’s eyes and “got a sense of his soul,” McCain said he looked into Putin’s eyes and got saw “three things – a K, a G and a B”.
“Look, Russia is a gas station masquerading as a country,” McCain said. “It’s kleptocracy. It is bribery.
Putin hated McCain for it. He even imposed a travel ban on him to Russia, to which McCain smiled and said, “I guess that means I’ll be spending Easter in Sedona rather than Siberia.”
In 2018, Russian opposition leader Vladimir Kara-Murza wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post titled “John McCain saw Vladimir Putin better than anyone.”
In 2019, Ukrainians named a street in Kyiv after John McCain.
He’s doing this to stop Meghan’s taunts? Also unlikely
Schmidt’s insinuation is absurd.
But not so much as his most important point, which Meghan McCain has bullied him for a decade and a half. He expects us to believe that he, a campaign mercenary for decades, has been reduced to a quivering square of Jell-O by the taunts of one of John McCain’s daughters.
“Today I see loyalty through the prism of duty to family, country, and truth,” Schmidt wrote, still adrift in the 17th century. “The truth demands that – at last – I express myself. It’s not a story I like to tell, but I have to because my continued silence stipulates the validity of false allegations and petty slander. I owe it to my children. I can’t allow them to see me being abused and intimidated by lies. The truth is the only remedy I know to end Meghan’s abuse.
Schmidt has bolstered his Substack screed with a series of social media outbursts that are, to put it mildly, lopsided. It’s Norma Desmond with a Twitter feed.
“My daughter was three at the time and I promised myself that I would make sure my number one priority in life was to raise a kid who has never acted like @MeghanMcCain, a spoiled rotten, titled bully. She (Schmidt’s daughter) is graduating from high school next week! Mission accomplished !”
Steve Schmidt’s Substack screed raises many intriguing questions, but definitely answers only one.
Who is the real tyrant?
Phil Boas is the editorial page editor of The Arizona Republic. He can be reached at 602-444-8292 or [email protected]