Consultants — Vivisection Has Its Place

Considering the treatment that Republican consultant Stephen Schmidt and his minions gave Sarah Palin during and after the 2008 campaign, it is a safe bet that few followers of C4P are Schmidt fans.

So all should enjoy Jeffrey Lord’s American Spectator piece on The Quisling Consultants. Everyone should read the whole thing, but here are a couple of samples:

The real problem the Republican Party faces is the rise of a political consulting class that feeds off the beast that is the federal Leviathan.


What Mr. Schmidt does — and by no means is he alone — is depend on the growth of government to so entangle the private sector that it needs people like Steve Schmidt to simply stay alive. So when it comes to candidates — or talk radio hosts or the Tea Party or anybody that wants to take an axe to the insatiable beast that demands your tax dollars — Schmidt and company will use their Establishment podiums to go after them.


They have long ago turned their backs on conservative principle and are aiding and abetting the behemoth that is literally bleeding America financially dry. …The real problem for the Republican Party isn’t Rush Limbaugh and the “conservative entertainment complex.” It isn’t the Tea Party. It isn’t you. . . The real problem is the Quisling Consultants.

I will add a consultant story that I heard recently from a friend who was involved in a state campaign a couple of years ago. The political consultants running the campaign had a sideline  — they owned the company that bought the media. So this company collected a 15% commission on all buys. The result was an emphasis on big buys in big markets so that the the commission could be earned with minimum effort, even though that was not where the effort was needed. My friend’s candidate lost.

Apparently, this double role of political consultant and media placement firm is common (though I do not know if it applies to Schmidt). If you fast forward to 2012, hundreds of millions of dollars were spent on media buys to support Republicans, obviously to inadequate effect. The Obama campaign was working at a different level, and much more successfully, with social media, specialized sites, community storefront operations, and other targeted operations.

It would be interesting to autopsy the exact relationships during the 2012 campaign so as to understand where the consultants’ true interest lay. Erick Ericson at Red State had a good piece on this:

The fifth floor of 66 Canal Center Plaza [in Washington] reveals a tangled web of incestuous relationships among Republican consultants who have made millions all while the GOP went down the tubes. Here the top party consultants waged war with conservative activists and here they waged war with the Democrats. On both fronts, they raked in millions along the way with a more fractured, minority party in their wake. And they show no signs of recognizing just how much a part of the problem they are.

It is not surprising that the consultants are among those bemoaning the idea of a circular firing squad (though of course they are busy shooting the Tea Partiers in the back at every opportunity), and urging that we all get along in the interests of some vague future improvement.

This effort at phony harmony seems misplaced. Honest autopsies are the only way to improve. In particular the donors who supported the conservative effort in the election need to know whether and how much they got snookered for the sake of commissions on media buys and other consulting fees. If the autopsies turn into a bit of vivisection of consultants, so be it.

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Author: "Ending 'Big SIS' (The Special Interest State) and Renewing the American Republic" (2012) [] and "Property Matters--How Property Rights Are Under Assault and Why You Should Care" (1997). Some former jobs: Assistant Director of Consumer Protection in FTC; member of the Program Analysis Staff of the US Bureau of the Budget; Research Director of the Administrative Conference of the United States; Director of IPCentral at the Progress & Freedom Foundation; VP & GC of the National Legal Center for the Public Interest. Graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, former Book Review Editor of the Harvard Law Review.

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