Washington Confidential

Loser McCain Prez Campaign Adviser Bemoans GOP Debate Critics

Evan Gahr Investigative Journalist
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It is always a curious spectacle when losers give advice for winning — even when they are right.

The classic example is Bob Beckel, campaign manager for Walter Mondale’s 49 state loss to Ronald Reagan in the 1984 election, emerging as a distinguished Democratic strategist and political commentator.

Enter Steve Schmidt, who as 2008 John McCain presidential campaign senior adviser stuck pure political gold when he helped select Sarah Palin as the Arizona senator’s running mate.

Schmidt just unloaded on Republicans for objecting to the attempted CNBC journalistic gang bang of debate participants last week.

Talking Points Memo reporter Tierney Sneed wrote Tuesday that, “The idea of a candidate-controlled debate cycle” has prompted “new headaches for the already exhausted GOP elites, and some Republicans are worried that too much coddling will harm their party in the long run.”

Schmidt is Sneed’s prime example.

“There is tremendous cultural bias, a tremendous ideological bias that Republican candidates have to face. But that does not mean though that every criticism offered by a Republican candidate in the face of a tough but legitimate question is a legitimate criticism,” he told her.

“In almost every instance, there’s no such thing as a bad question, there’s only a bad answer,” Schmidt pontificated. “Every question — no matter how biased, how banal, how malevolent — is an opportunity for a candidate to show an aspect of their character.”

Well, yeah. He does have a point. Loaded questions show whether candidates can think on their feet, which is kind of a good quality for president of the United States.

It is peculiar that the Republicans who want to convince voters they could vanquish ISIS as president get bent out of shape by rude questions from moderators.

There is also something disconcerting about the RNC and most presidential campaigns trying to dictate terms and moderator questions to NBC for the next debate. Do they believe in a free press? Imagine how Republicans would shriek if Democrats started telling journalists how to behave at their debates.

If NBC caves to the pressure is that any different than the History Channel in 2011 cancelling its JFK miniseries after the Kennedy clan complained about its supposed unfair portrayals?

Nevertheless, how about a little bit of humility from Schmidt given his record?

Everybody would laugh if Deep Throat star Linda Lovelace starred in Listerine advertisements, even if the stuff works well. Similarly, alleged human pooper scooper Stephanie Mencimer, wife of WaPo media blogger Erik Wemple, dishing on cleanliness might also draw a few chuckles.

“Always wear gloves when you pick up doggie doo-doo from the ground to throw at somebody.”

Schmidt’s self-image as party sage, despite his Palin debacle, is equally laughable. The guy who initially thought Palin was great stuff in 2008 is now giving Republicans advice for 2016?

It is well to note that Schmidt is a MSNBC analyst, presumably paid. But that, of course, has absolutely nothing to do — zippo, zippo — with him taking CNBC’s side in the fracas.

Efforts to reach Schmidt through his MSNBC overlords were not immediately successful.