John McCain’s New Strategist Basically a Dick

Steve Schmidt and John McCain Photo: AP

McCain's new strategist, Steve Schmidt, is kind of an asshole, The Wall Street Journal tells us this morning, although they don't exactly use those words. The New Jersey native, who worked on Bush's campaign and Schwartznegger's (and who is responsible for yesterday's angry-funny "Media Hearts Obama" video) is a "sharp-tongued" "military-like" figure who was promoted to strategist after McCain's disastrous June 3 speech, which was widely mocked and which Schmidt said made him "apoplectic" about the incompetence of the campaign.

Apparently he often feels that way! The Journal story contains many colorful anecdotes about the man McCain affectionately calls "Sgt. Schmidt," some of which would make even Machiavelli cringe. For instance:

• Anger, Schmidt says, "focuses people's attention when other means have been exhausted."

• "Our goal is perfection," he told McCain staffers recently. "We will never achieve it."

• "Two colleagues say that when Mr. Schmidt gets really angry, his nose bleeds, though Mr. Schmidt denies it."

• Says a guy who worked with him on the Bush campaign: "The nostrils would flare, he would get very red-faced and angry, and you would just want to quit … you basically wanted to crash a chair over his head."

• "During debates, he would time staffers with a stop watch to see how quickly they could dig up information contradicting whatever their opponent said and email it to reporters."

• "Sometimes he stares at a questioner for several moments while forming a response."

• A former assistant likened his perch outside Schmidt's office to "a small house at the base of a volcano."

• "He only gets angry when someone has made the same mistake twice or failed to pay attention."

That said, like any villain, he has his Kryptonite. According to the Journal: "He is deeply scared of snakes. After a rattlesnake bit his dog at their California home, he insisted that the entire family move."

Reggie Love, get ye to a pet store!

McCain's Message Gets Makeover [WSJ]