Last week I was invited to sit on a career panel held by New York University's Wagner School of Public Policy. It was an enjoyable evening, as I got to catch up with some friends and colleagues and tell bright-eyed young go-getters considering policy careers that ignorance, the absence of a plan and serial mistakes don't necessarily preclude worthwhile occupational choices in our field.
My panel was held in a corner conference on the third floor of the Puck Building, where I gather Wagner is based. The door of the office next to the conference room bore the name "Robert Shrum".
A more descriptive legend for its occupant might have read: "Robert '0-for-8, Chardonnay Populist, shit-for-brains, utterly incompetent, real "architect" of Bush's 2004 victory, good-for-nothing liberal douchebag wuss asshole Shrum." My first instinct was that a parade of people--maybe a displaced victim of Hurricane Katrina one day, maybe someone who went broke paying medical costs and is now screwed forever because of the new bankruptcy law the next, perhaps the wife or child of an Iraq casualty the following--should get to leave bodily waste on this guy's desk, every single day, for the entirety of Bush's present term. My second was to at least write "Thanks loser--Love, The RNC" on his whiteboard door.
But I didn't want my friend who'd invited me to get in trouble, so I breathed deeply and let it go. The next day I read on Political Wire that Shrum, "the political consultant whose words and ideas have helped define the Democratic Party for 40 years"--and what a damning statement that is, considering we've lost seven of the ten presidential elections over that span, with Shrum sitting out the three wins--has signed a six-figure book deal.
Now this... this really pissed me off. It's one thing to fuck up with tragic consequences--and I think it would be very tough to argue that the re-election of the Idiot King hasn't borne, and won't continue to bear, tragic consequences. But people make mistakes; presumably Shrum tried his best, and the fault is with John Kerry and the other dimwits and fellow "professional election losers" who hired him.
It's another to MAKE MONEY OFF IT. Annie and I intermittently argued last week about what the appropriate course of action is for someone who failed as badly and disastrously as Shrum. I'm not quite saying that the ancient Japanese custom of ritual suicide is in order. But I do think that person is honor bound to disappear from public life and, at the least, never bother us again. Shrum's a rich prick. He should go drink his wine, listen to Debussy or Kenny G or whatever lame music he enjoys on his hi-fi, and at least let the rest of us get to the work of trying to undue the damage he helped facilitate.
Then there's this:
A "seasoned Democratic operative" tells The Plank "that he fully expects Bob Shrum will emerge from his semi-retirement/exile to work for a 2008 Democrat. Last time around there was a big hullabaloo about the 'Shrum Primary' -- the intense competition to snap up Shrum as an advisor. This time, given Shrum's battered reputation, the interesting question is, Which candidate will be willing to have him?"
Can we all just promise, right here and now, to oppose any Democrat who hires this incompetent jackass? Talk about fatally bad judgement. At some point, "beginner's luck" just doesn't hold up anymore.