The Best Republican Brawl In A Long, Long While


Bill Kristol started it - but Steve Schmidt took him down:

“I'm sure John McCain would be president today if only Bill Kristol had been in charge of the campaign... After all, his management of [former Vice President] Dan Quayle’s public image as his chief of staff is still something that takes your breath away. His attack on me is categorically false... His allegation that I was defaming Palin by alleging post-partum depression at the campaign headquarters is categorically untrue. In fact, I think it rises to the level of a slander because it’s about the worst thing you can say about somebody who does what I do for a living.”

Next up: Randy Scheuneman, neocon Palin sherpa, and old buddy of Kristol's:

“Steve Schmidt has a congenital aversion to the truth,” Scheunemann said. “On two separate and distinct occasions, he speculated about about Governor Palin having post-partum depression, and on the second he threatened that if more negative publicity about the handling of Governor Palin emerged that he would leak his speculation [about post-partum depression] to the press. It was like meeting Tony Soprano.”

Scheuneman, if you recall, went rogue with Palin on the campaign and was relieved of his duties at Schmidt's behest. Schmidt claims this is a reason for Scheuneman's current attack on him. Then it really gets nasty, and Jonathan Martin's day yesterday must have been quite a fun one. Here's Schmidt's subsequent unloading on Scheuneman:

“What this is about is a personal issue that happened late in the campaign relating to a close, personal friend of Bill Kristol and people at the Weekly Standard,” Schmidt said, refusing to use Scheunemann’s name. 

“At the end of the campaign there were a series of leaks that were so damaging that it was consuming the 24-hour cable news cycle. Leaks to reporters where Sarah Palin was called all manner of names. [McCain senior adviser] Rick Davis and I jointly felt that was outrageous. So we made an attempt for the first time in the campaign to try to ID who was leaking information that was so damaging and demoralizing to a campaign that was in very difficult circumstances. ...

“What was discovered was an email from a very senior staff member to Bill Kristol that then entered into the news current and continued the negative in-fighting stories for an additional news cycles. I recommended tough medicine for that individual that was carried out,” Schmidt said, again referring to Scheunemann. “Bill Kristol might not have liked that decision, and he might be mad about what happened to his friend, but going all the way back he has been a part of this story and I’ve preserved his confidentiality in that until now. But his use of his public forums to take a personal fight and make character attacks is just simply dishonest and wrong.”

I could go on, but then it gets into Nicolle Wallace and whether she is or is not a "diva". It has to be one of the juiciest, gossipyest, nastiest stories of campaign politics I've read in ages. Make of it what you will.

What I make of it is that the selection of Sarah Palin was one of the most absurd, nutty, cynical and incompetent decisions in the modern history of American campaigning. And the Republican party, far from trying to understand how they made such a reckless decision, remains in total denial. Kristol and Barnes chief among them. The in-fighting is a function of both the chaotic management style of John McCain, the psycotic nature of Palin and the toujours l'audace mentality of the Kristol brigade. They all deserved each other - and the party and political tradition they have collectively destroyed.