Yesterday, Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol — a long-time aggressive public advocate of Sarah Palin — took great exception to a new article in Vanity Fair by Todd Purdum which quoted McCain campaign officials disparaging Palin’s performance as a vice presidential candidate.
Kristol fingered one particular McCain official for blame: chief strategist Steve Schmidt. Kristol claimed that Schmidt trashed “Palin’s mental state to others in the McCain-Palin campaign.” And now Schmidt is firing back by unloading some very candid rhetorical bombs against Kristol. Politico’s Jonathan Martin reports:
Asked about the accusation, Schmidt fired back in an e-mail: “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,” Schmidt continued. “His attack on me is categorically false.”
Schmidt then offered more colorful perspective of Kristol’s character:
“Bill Kristol, going back to the time of the campaign, has taken a lot of cheap shots at the campaign without ever offering a plausible path to victory,” Schmidt said. “He’s in the business of ad hominem insults and criticism.” […]
As for the charges of being a sunshine soldier with regard to Palin, Schmidt said: “Nonsense. I’m a team player. That’s a reflection of [Kristol’s] values. He’s the Washington, D.C., talking head and glitterati. I live in Northern California and I really don’t give a s— about that stuff.”
During the presidential campaign, neoconservatives Kristol and Scheunemann had made Palin their “project,” seizing upon her cluelessness to shape her foreign policy views. As Matt Duss observed at the time, Palin’s “simplistic presentation of the Russia-Georgia conflict, her mindless threat of war with Russia, asserting that America shouldn’t ‘second guess’ Israeli policy, and her tiresome and dishonest conflation of 9/11 and Iraq,” all confirmed that she was getting the neocon talking points. And now the neoconservative camp is returning the favor by rushing to defend her.