Friends don’t let friends fall for the Lincoln Project’s lying tricks

I’ve been seeing this excerpt of a video interview with Republican Steve Schmidt in which he thoroughly tears into Trump’s incompetence and failures — and don’t get me wrong, that’s good to see, but it’s the omissions that grate. Schmidt is one of the architects of the modern Republican party, just like Rick Wilson and the other Lincoln Project hypocrites, and when he howls about how bad Trump is, he’s concealing the fact that he wants an autocratic conservative government, just one with not that figurehead. He’s not looking for a more moderate leader, he wants someone who is far right, but good at it, so don’t listen to these guys thinking they want to improve our country, they want to make it worse.

Driftglass explains the dishonesty of the Lincoln Project with a telling example.

Once again, good ol’ Steve’s feigning ignorance of basic American political history is almost comical.

See, we had an eight year experiment in compromise with Republicans. It was called the Clinton Administration: Clinton actually delivered on lots of things Republicans had screeching about for years and they reacted by shutting down the government, launching a four year witch hunt and impeaching him over trivia.

Then we had another eight year experiment in trying to work with Republicans when Democrats elected an intelligent, humane, scandal-free constitutional law professor to fix the multiple, crippling catastrophes Steve Schmidt’s Republican Party had left in their wake after eight years of George W. Bush. Barack Obama was exactly the sort of incrementalist/accommodationist leader that Steve Schmidt now dreams of and Steve Schmidt’s Republican Party reacted to his election with eight relentless years of sabotage, sedition, unhinged racism, Birtherism and, finally, Trump.

Exactly. Obama was a moderate centrist (or in many ways, a conservative Democrat), and Schmidt and Wilson and all their fellow travelers hated him and fought him every step of the way. They don’t want a good leader, they want a Trump without the baggage.

Or, I suppose, the most charitable (not really) interpretation is that maybe they want a white Obama who they can push around. That wouldn’t surprise me at all.


  1. davebot says

    They don’t hate Trump’s policies. They hate that Trump took over the party and made them politically irrelevant. These grifters just want their grift back.

  2. whywhywhy says

    The Lincoln project folks are most unhappy about not being in position to control the President. They are also betting that the backlash against anyone associated with Trump will be severe. Thus the quickest way to power is to attack Trump now.

  3. daved says

    There are a handful of Republicans who have been honest (or maybe clear-sighted) enough to admit that the GOP needs to be burned to the ground and then start over. Not enough of them, though.

  4. PaulBC says

    I’m not a huge fan of the Lincoln Project and ignore them even when I see shares from facebook friends who think they’re great. PZ’s exactly right about their motives.

    I will also never forgive David “Axis of Evil” Frum for his role in the Bush administration. I have to admit, though, I like his writing in The Atlantic and at least find it informative.

  5. wzrd1 says

    The easiest way that I’ve found to remind folks that the enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend is, we were allied with the Soviet Union during WWII.
    The Allies, realizing that essentially, all bets were off at the close of WWII were far from unprepared for the Soviets attempting to consolidate their gains and potentially, expand. That preparation essentially, although guaranteed a Cold War, prevented WWIII on the footsteps of the end of WWII.

    So, the enemy of my enemy may be an ally for now, just count being allied beyond the accomplishment of the goals of all parties in that alliance. That means, be ready with your own dirty tricks to employ against their “surprise” dirty tricks.
    That means, be ready for more fascist tricks, just better disguised than Trump’s up front, in your face fascism. Because, whywhywhy has a point, they’re sore that the party got hijacked by an opportunistic bottom feeder like Trump, especially after they hijacked it from moderates via the tea party movement.
    Frankenstein built his monster and pissed it off, now they’re trying to hijack their pissed off monster back. The difference is, in the literary work, anyone with a sense of decency cheered for the monster, as the one creating the creature was the actual monster of the story.

  6. sc_262299b298126f9a3cc21fb87cce79da says

    Yeah. I’m tired of the outrage rants by Steve — the guy who brought us Sarah Palin — Schmidt. I chuckle at some of the LP ads as I imagine Trumplethinskin’s reactions, but we really don’t need a future of this kind of political advertising, which is their specialty.

  7. says

    It has seemed pretty clear to me all along that the reason behind most of the establishment objection to Trump has not been his policy but his personality. He’s a political outsider and personally obnoxious and crude and tacky. Much of his policy, stripped of it rhetoric, is basically extension of what either Bush and Obama already did — both of them locked up immigrant kids (and yes, Obama tried to separate kids from parents, but got slapped down by the courts), police brutality against protestors is an old story and against BLM protestors specifically started under Obama, cuddling up to fossil fuel corporations goes way back, etc. etc. etc. If this had been Mitt Romney or John McCain or another Bush doing it, there wouldn’t be half as much outrage, because they would be suave and decorous about it.

    For the last 4 decades, both parties have been doing the groundwork for a de facto dictatorship. That’s why we have the surveillance state which Bush proposed and Obama implemented, the concentration camps, the offshore torture sites, the militarized police (and the legal infrastructure which protects them), the whole nine yards. Then Trump swooped in at the last minute and took control of it all, and that really pisses them all off. This was supposed to be a technocratic establishment figure, not some nose-picking orange baboon.

    This is why Biden was telling his donors that “nothing will fundamentally change” — he was one of the worst of them, when it comes to making all of this possible, he always wanted a police state. He just didn’t want Trump in charge of it.

  8. consciousness razor says

    He’s not looking for a more moderate leader, he wants someone who is far right, but good at it, so don’t listen to these guys thinking they want to improve our country, they want to make it worse.

    Maybe it’s not what you intended…. But wanting moderation is also not the same as wanting to improve the country. They just don’t mean the same thing, they never have, and they never will.

    On top of that, what most regard as “moderate” in this country is actually conservative bullshit: preserving the status quo, because “normalcy” isn’t recognized as deep and widespread oppression (to some people who aren’t its victims, at least not yet). These are some extreme and radical and immoderate ideas which are called “moderate/centrist”: thinking that people don’t have a right to healthcare or education, that we don’t need to be “too” serious about climate change, that our two incestuous parties ought to remain tools/weapons of the rich, that we should settle for anything less than real democracy, that we don’t need to end our wars or our prison-industrial complex, that on essentially every issue one should aim for the minimum required to grab an election from your “opponent”, etc.

    When it doesn’t stem from something more sociopathic, it’s normally just abject ignorance that can’t even pretend to be a thoughtful position. (Just pick any random rich asshat, and you’ll probably get one or both, like for example Matthew Yglesias and his new “One Billion Americans” book.)

    Also, in terms of actual policy, in many respects Trump isn’t extreme relative to other Republicans. He’s maybe dumber, more abrasive and more embarrassing than somebody like Bush. If that bothers you a lot, fine, I get it. But seriously, he’s always been too ignorant and unconcerned with actual politics to even have a coherent set of ideas, much less go around pushing hard for them. So in what sense is he supposed to be more extreme than his allies who actually do have some firmly held extreme views and work (sometimes competently) to make them happen? I don’t get that.

    You might say that the other Republicans are the ones who’ve become more depraved over the years, and after all, they have much of the power and are mostly the ones running the show. (That is, not the sideshow Trump produces via bizarre tweets and speeches, which gets way too much attention every day, but the actual legislation and actions taken by our government.) I guess maybe some things have changed, but there’s little real difference between people like Mitch McConnell and Newt Gingrich, say. They’re both about as depraved as it gets, and around that point, I’ve got no reason to make any super-fine distinctions. None of it’s good, and I just don’t think I have a real need for 31 different flavors of fascist.

  9. says

    I have a pet theory about why people continue to support Trump: With him, alt least we KNOW we’re getting fucked. I’m not so sure he’s really any worse than all the other rich pricks, I think he’s just too dense to be subtle about it.

  10. says

    Well y’know, whatever their long term plans what they’re doing right now is trying to help produce a Democratic presidency and senate. What they do after Nov. 3 is something I’ll worry about then, because right now we want the same thing. Think WWII.

  11. brucegee1962 says

    I think it’s interesting that Biden hasn’t cozied up to these folks more. Of course, he hasn’t exactly cozied up with the AOC wing of the party, either, since tacking to the center is old political strategy and Biden is, well, old. But he could be making a big deal of these Lincoln guys to try to win over wavering Repubs, and he doesn’t seem to have done so — even as much as Obama did with all his talk of reaching across the aisle to get things done. He seems to figure his best method of getting votes across the spectrum is to simply keep hitting Trump morning, noon, and night, and he’s probably right.
    Of course, Biden was right there when Obama really did try to reach across the aisle with health care and got his hand bitten off, so he knows perfectly well what these folks’ true colors are. If they were hoping to get tidbits from a Biden administration, I doubt he’ll give them any.
    But I don’t think that’s what they want. They’re betting on a GOP train wreck in November and everyone involved in the Trump admin spending the next few years in court or jail, and they want to be the ones left standing to try to rebuild the party.

  12. says

    I don’t think I have any illusions about the Lincoln Project. I mean, I’m the guy who (as far as I know) coined the acronym AARON (Absolutely All Republicans Out Now), okay? But at the same time, I recognize that whatever the LP’s motives may be, their actions are, however temporarily, serving the progressive cause. I say, let them be useful idiots for us!

  13. stroppy says

    I don’t get it. Are these ads suddenly going to turn me or somebody I love into a Republican zombie that wants to eat your brains? Because we’re so gullible? We’re not the target audience, but thanks for the warning anyway I guess. Seems to me that Republicans fighting among themselves is a good thing. You know Putin and company are doing the same to us in order to sap opposition to Trump.

    sc_262299b298126f9a3cc21fb87cce79da @7
    Thinking about Trump’s reaction amuses me too. On the other hand, you do have a point about their outrage and how it contributes to the future of political advertising– although the bar is already InfoWars low. Personally, at this point, I’m not particularly outraged over LP’s activity when there’s so much else to be upset over.

  14. PaulBC says


    I have a pet theory about why people continue to support Trump: With him, alt least we KNOW we’re getting fucked. I’m not so sure he’s really any worse than all the other rich pricks, I think he’s just too dense to be subtle about it.

    Way too generous. Trump supporters really love him. They are authoritarian in nature and understand Trump’s behavior to be the most reasonable way for the “big boss” to comport himself. Also, not all of them are getting screwed over. Anyone who can afford to sink a boat in Lake Travis is doing just fine. Maybe not rich, but obviously with disposable income and time for “hobbies.”

    The idea that Trumpies dislike “rich” people or consider themselves screwed over is a major misinterpretation. They like rich assholes just fine. The guy who owns the biggest car dealer in the county? Pillar of society. What they hate are people with education who they believe are looking down on them. They don’t care if people with money are laughing at them. They’d love to have that much money and do some laughing themselves.

  15. ORigel says

    Graciously accept the Lincoln Project’s help this election cycle– they are allies of convenience, the enemy of our enemy. But for God’s sake, do not donate to them! They’ll use the left-over money to help elect Republicans. And after the election, they will be back to being our enemies.

  16. PaulBC says

    @16 Or accept it ungraciously even. I have no time for the Lincoln Project. I think the writing of people like David Frum and even the reformed Max Boot opens up a window into how conservatives critique each other, and that’s useful for understanding. But LP is just propaganda. If it works, great, but I don’t want to have anything to do with it. I’m also not even sure it does work. It seems more like an opportunity for self-congratulatory “bipartisanship” than anything else.

  17. nomdeplume says

    When Democrats are in power Republicans always DEMAND that the Dems “reach across the aisle” “Compromise” “negotiate”, while refusing to agree on a single program the Dems were elected on – everything is delayed or blocked, acrimoniously, hands reaching across the aisle are chopped off. When Republicans are in power they simply force through all of their programs ruthlessly with absolutely no hint of negotiation or compromise.

  18. PaulBC says

    @18 I like to quote JFK “We cannot negotiate with people who say what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is negotiable.”

    It’s remarkable that so many Democrats are such suckers. At the very least, it helps to understand

    In iterated games like Prisoner’s Dilemma, where there is a potential to benefit from cooperation, a simple and effective strategy is to defect in response to defection (at least protecting yourself) and only cooperate in response to cooperation. Democrats prefer the “Charlie Brown football” strategy: they’ve lied every other time, but this time they’re telling the truth.

    In fact, nobody is that stupid, so I think the reality is that Democrats are playing to the “judges” i.e. outlets like the NYT who will congratulate them for their “civility” whereas Republicans are playing for raw power. Sorry, it just pisses me off. I am not into raw power either, but I vote for people to get things done, not to have very nice words said about them by very serious people.

  19. Frederic Bourgault-Christie says

    Perjury isn’t trivia. Clinton was eminently impeachable. The hypocrisy of the Republicans doing it and their witch hunt antics is telling, and everything else stated by Driftglass is wholly valid, but can we not pretend that Clinton wasn’t a criminal and probable rapist?

  20. kwc20 says

    I will also never forgive David “Axis of Evil” Frum for his role in the Bush administration.

    Frum’s your basic anti-government, market-worshipping neocon, pretty much indistinguishable from the rest of the right-wingers. He’s a far cry from his mother.

    they want a white Obama who they can push around

    In other words, they want Joe, the difference being they won’t need to push. He’ll do their bidding of his own volition.

    For the last 4 decades, both parties have been doing the groundwork for a de facto dictatorship.

    Thus demonstrating the manifest uselessness of political parties in general. How about a constitutional amendment preventing running under the banner of a political party for any public office?

    They’d love to have that much money and do some laughing themselves

    Power (money) corrupts and absolute power (billions of dollars) corrupts absolutely. AKA “human nature”.

  21. Artor says

    Fredrick @20
    If that had been what Clinton was impeached for, I’d agree with you. But instead, he was impeached for lying about a consensual affair that was nobody else’s business, and never should have been in court.

  22. daulnay says

    Worth noting that some Conservatives think their movement is dead:
    “So yes, conservatism is dead. The Tea Party in 2010s tried to resurrect it. But all that the angry and bitter zombie Reaganites of the Tea Party ultimately accomplished was making conservatism look obstructionist—and, with the ascension of Donald Trump, they have turned into zombie Buchananites. To the extent that the mindless mush that is called “conservatism” today is in obedient lockstep with Donald Trump, it is nationalist, hateful, intolerant, and unpatriotic.”
    from The Bulwark

    It’s worth remembering that every movement and political party is composed of factions, and that they pull in different directions. Some conservatives will be allies in a fight against an authoritarian tyranny by Trump, others (looking at you, Evangelicals) will not. As a previous poster noted, we’re in a WWII type situation, where we have to ally with former and future opponents — so that there is a future where we can be opponents.

    Anti-Trump, anti-dictatorship conservatives are ultimately allies when you get down to the basics – democracy vs. tyranny – of politics.

    So the question is, which faction are the Lincoln Project people from? Although it’s an invalid deduction, let’s use Stephen Schmidt as an example. He’s best known as a PR strategist who worked on the campaigns of John McCain, Arnold Schwartznegger, and George W. Bush (Bush the Elder). That puts him firmly in the old Elite Money faction of the Republican party, not the Southern pro-Confederate faction, not the Evangelical faction, not the Libertarian pro-business faction.

    Driftglass’ analysis blames Schmidt for the behavior of the Republican party, as if his faction was guiding the party during the Clinton and Obama administrations. During the Obama administration, the Southern pro-Confederates were running the party, and responsible for driving their scorched-earth stand – they’d be damned if they’d let a black man be a successful president. During the Clinton years, Newt Gingrich (R-Georgia) was the voice I remember most prominently. Schmidt deserves condemnation for not abandoning the party decades earlier, and supporting it until 2016, sure. But Driftglass is wrong to claim that Schmidt wants a far-right authoritarian, when Schmidt’s been aligned with and worked for people like McCain, Schwartznegger, and Bush the Elder.

    Schmidt’s attacks on Trump and other Republicans signal that the Old Money Elite faction is moving into the Democratic camp. They’re not a 5th column, and not going to embrace authoritarianism – they’re pro-aristocrat, not pro-tyrant.

  23. Ichthyic says

    I suppose, the most charitable (not really) interpretation is that maybe they want a white Obama who they can push around.

    no need, that’s why they have Ben Carson.

  24. Ichthyic says

    I don’t think I have any illusions about the Lincoln Project. I mean, I’m the guy who (as far as I know) coined the acronym AARON (Absolutely All Republicans Out Now), okay? But at the same time, I recognize that whatever the LP’s motives may be, their actions are, however temporarily, serving the progressive cause. I say, let them be useful idiots for us!

    I don’t have any illusions about wolves. I’m the sheep who said that: “we need to get rid of the wolves from our pasture!”
    But at the same time, whatever the wolf’s motivations are, as long as they dress themselves as sheep, they are serving our cause!

  25. chrislawson says


    Clinton didn’t perjure himself as he denied the affair in an media interview, not a sworn affidavit or court evidence. Even so, his denial only happened because Kenneth Starr’s team violated numerous constitutional and legal boundaries in order to find evidence that Clinton had an affair and then used entrapment strategies to push him into giving that denial.

    I’m not defending Clinton here at all. But the energy Starr put into manufacturing an impeachment out of an extramarital affair is in stark contrast to the routine corruption and malfeasance by Republicans that Starr has never felt the slightest need to investigate let alone prosecute in his professional life.

  26. says

    Ichthyic @25: Nice metaphor. Do you, or do you not, think that the LP’s ads are going to persuade any GOPers not to vote for the Angry Cheeto?

  27. daved says

    cubist @27: I’ve never been convinced that the LP ads were intended to do anything other than get under the very thin skin of Donald Trump and cause him to do and say even stupider things than usual. They’ve even said they were primarily playing to an audience of one, and they’ve run ads on the Washington DC television stations, even though DC is deep blue — just so they’d be sure Trump would see the ads.

  28. logicalcat says


    At the same time theyve expressed desire to take over the democratic party if it comes to that so that makes them still a threat.

  29. wzrd1 says

    @chrislawson, Clinton denied having any form of sex with Lewinsky in a sworn affidavit. His claimed out was that receiving was not participating in a sexual act. That’s obviously bullshit, doing what attorneys do in redefining things in a way best for them and well, it didn’t fly.
    That said, what was being investigated was Whitewater financial shenanigans and sexual activity is far afield from what was to be investigated, so it was so far out of context that then, even as a Republican at that time, I contacted my Senators and outright told them, “You drop this nonsense, or the next time you see a Republican elected will be after the second coming of Christ”.
    Having had some dealings with Arlen Specter in the past, well, he broke with the party and voted to acquit. I wasn’t the only one telling him that, as frankly, what was a matter between the Clintons most certainly was not the business of a special prosecutor or Congress. Especially, given the sheer volume of sexual and financial scandals on the part of the amoral majority, it turned into a textbook example of the proverbial pot calling the kettle black and our government had other matters of real import to consider.
    A message was also dispatched to Clinton that strongly suggested he keep that damned thing inside of his pants, as the entire spectacle was extremely unseemly for all parties concerned.