McCain’s campaign manager blames Republican congressional leadership


I confess I’m loving the Daily Beast, Tina Brown’s latest attempt to mix sensational and serious journalism. (She remade Vanity Fair in the ’80s, revived The New Yorker in the ’90s — though yes, I greatly prefer both magazines under the editors who succeeded her — and faceplanted with Talk after that.) Daily Beast is a mix of aggregating, reporting and blogging, clearly designed to take on Huffington Post. It’s existing in a financial fantasy world for the moment, pushing out high-impact original journalism and selling no ads, a path the National Post trod in its early years, with the results we all know. But for however long it lasts, it’s high-calorie fun. Here’s Steve Schmidt, John McCain’s campaign manger, describing the moment when he realized his candidate couldn’t win. It was about five weeks before the vote — coincidentally, the length of a standard Canadian general-election campaign.

The moment that I will look back at as the moment deep in my gut that I knew, was September 29, when I was flying on a plane with Governor Palin to Sedona for debate prep, watching the split screen on the TVs, because she had a JetBlue charter, and it showed the stock market down seven, eight hundred points; it showed the Congress voting down the bailout package on the other side, and then, House Republicans went out and told the world that the reason that they voted against this legislation, allowed the stock market to crash, allowed the economy to be so injured, was because Nancy Pelosi had given a mean and partisan speech on the floor. And this was their response. And I just viewed it as beyond devastating, and thought that at that moment running with an “R” next to your name, in this year, was probably lethal.

There’s a lot more worth reading in that email exchange. Also cool: Informed speculation about what, precisely, Billie Kristol was up to with his New York Times column; and a thing about which pundits’ stars rose during the U.S. campaign.

Typically, a Tina Brown joint makes you cringe quite often with a shallow or tacky take on something, but you’re there because so much of what’s on offer is genuinely fascinating. Brown seems to have benefitted from time away. I’ll be bookmarking her latest venture.


McCain’s campaign manager blames Republican congressional leadership

  1. As I recall, the original Daily Beast was an Evelyn Waugh creation ( maybe Scoop?).

    From a quick scan of the current rendition, it seems appropriate.

  2. Hardly a revelation. Anyone willing to go beyond the MSM and Right propaganda knew that this was wrapped up almost from the start. And it is more salient that it was Schmidt who urged John McCain to suspend the campaign, a disastrous decision which made a probability into a certainty.

  3. My, my. I didn’t think that McCain’s campaign suspension was a problem, and I suspect if it hadn’t occurred on the cusp of the first debate, it would have been viewed, or at least lent itself to being more credibly and charitably framed, as a responsible ‘putting country first’ decision. Given its timing, though, it was too easily portrayed as an ‘escape from debate’ ploy or ‘inability to multi-task’ weakness by opportunists amongst the Democrats and in the media, if that latter distinction ever held in the first place.

    And the House Republicans’ initial rejection of the bailout plan mirrored majority public opinion in the US at the time, so I don’t think that it was as big a factor in McCain’s campaign’s spiral downward as Washington insiders may have thought. If anything, it was the subsequent porkbarrelling that helped the bill pass that might have made the idea of a principled stand having been taken by the House Republicans less credible.

    What Schmidt’s quote points up, I think, is that the incompetency of McCain’s campaign management started right at the top.

  4. I’ll be amazed if Steve Schmidt gets a job with Repubs again. His quote about the repub leadership might be accurate but he’s blaming everyone but himself and his team for McCain’s loss. First it was Palin’s fault and now they have moved on to some other target when Schmidt should be looking in the mirror if he wants to know why they lost.

    What was McCain’s vision? Where did he want to take the country? All I knew about McCain was what he was against: socialism, Obama, fat cats on Wall St … etc. There was no overall message, just a mishmash of things McCain didn’t like. I think McCain’s campaign was one of the most inept that I have witnessed.

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