|Schmidt with Woody Harrelson, who played him in the HBO film "Game Change."|
It was Mr. Schmidt who first championed Sarah Palin as Mr. McCain’s running mate, a bold move, he told Mr. McCain, that could win him the White House. Instead, her selection was widely viewed as one of the most calamitous political judgments in modern presidential politics. By the time Mr. McCain conceded, Mr. Schmidt himself feared that his role in that campaign would leave an indelible scar on his reputation.
“I’ve been involved in a lot of victories and I’ve been involved in defeats,” Mr. Schmidt said on this warm morning by the lake. “And the ending of that particular campaign felt like being in a car crash.” Mr. Schmidt came up with Ms. Palin’s name, and two other McCain campaign advisers — Rick Davis, the campaign manager, and A. B. Culvahouse Jr., a lawyer — were primarily in charge of checking her credentials in the space of a week.
Mr. Schmidt said he has not spoken with Ms. Palin since the night Mr. McCain conceded. His criticism of her has been a defining theme of his post-2008 years, in contrast to Mr. McCain, who has praised her repeatedly. “If I knew two days before what I knew two days later, I would have handcuffed myself to the truck to prevent him from leaving the compound,” Mr. Schmidt said, recalling the moment that Mr. McCain left to announce his selection. “I guess the evidence of that is the trauma I still have four years later.”
“She absolutely should not be president: no way, no how,” he said. “I’ve watched her on the public stage over the past four years. There has been zero effort — zero — to improve any of her obvious deficiencies.”
“My regret is I should have been the guy to say, ‘Stop, it’s too risky,’ ” he said, walking slowly up the road to his home. “As opposed to the guy saying: ‘Let’s take the risk. We have to win this.’ ”
How does that make him feel? “Terrible, terrible, terrible,” he said. “I have a level of regret that is hard to put into words. The notion that I would be a participant in a decision that, had events turned out the other way, this person would have been in national command authority? I am sick about it.”
And I DO believe that Schmidt is indeed "sick about it." Hell who in their right mind DOESN'T get a little queasy thinking about Sarah Palin as the Vice President of this country?
However even as remorseful as Schmidt appears to feel about his role in helping to drag Sarah Palin out of the dark forests of Wasilla and then thrusting her onto the public stage, he does not seem prepared to tell the ENTIRE truth about how that came to be.
In the HBO version of "Game Change" it appeared that Rick Davis, played by the very talented Peter McNicol, chose Palin almost randomly after seeing her on YouTube. But that certainly does not square with things that I have heard around Alaska, and seems to fly in the face of reports (As I wrote about yesterday) that Palin was all but certain she was McCain's pick as far back as March of 2008.
Now while I actually can accept the idea that Palin was not vetted until the last minute, or even that she was not "officially" chosen until late in August of 2008 (This is backed up by reports that McCain staff members did not even know that McCain knew Sarah Palin), I do believe that somebody had convinced her she was on the ticket by sometime in March. The question is who?
And learning the answer to THAT "who" question would also lead us to the "who" that was truly responsible for convincing Schmidt and Davis to then convince McCain that Palin was just the shot in the arm his campaign needed to become competitive against Barack Obama again.
Now the name that has been bandied about for the last three years is Lowell "Bud" Paxson.
Paxson is a very wealthy businessman who started the "Home Shopping Network," and is also a dedicated Evangelical, which would place him right within the sphere of influential people that McCain needed on his side in 2008.
However there is something which actually might have given Bud Paxson a little more leverage in helping foist Sarah Palin onto McCain's beleaguered campaign. Vicki Iseman.
Vicki Iseman was a lobbyist for Paxson, who many staff members on McCain's earlier campaign against George W. Bush, thought might have become a little TOO friendly with the Senator from Arizona. They even went so far as to block Iseman's access to McCain. (Is anybody else having a John Edwards/Rielle Hunter flashback right about now?)
The New York Times story that officially linked the two together came out on February 21, 2008. Around two weeks later Sarah Palin announced, on March 6, that she was pregnant.
And then thirty three days later Trig was born, sporting the middle name of "Paxson."
Things that make you go "Hmm."
If Paxson had indeed wanted Palin on the ticket, then he might have been in a unique position to help the Vicki Iseman story disappear, or at least refuse to add more troubling information to fan the flames, in exchange for a certain "favor." Which would certainly have made Palin feel grateful enough to have used his name as the middle name for her fake baby.
Now we may NEVER know exactly who it was, for certain, that pressured John McCain, and Steve Schmidt, into putting Palin on the Republican ticket in 2008. However I think we can say with some certainty that Palin probably knew she was John McCain's running mate, BEFORE John McCain knew it.