This was not exactly a profile in courage. Speaking to the Christian Coalition -- and urging them to embrace gay marriage -- now that would have been more entertaining. This was more akin to speaking to the Obama Administration and urging them to spend more money.
Schmidt, of course, is a political operative -- not the kind of person you normally want crafting your policy ideas. He is not a writer, not a philosopher, not a theologian, not a policy wonk -- heck, he's not even a conservative (prior to joining the McCain campaign, he headed Gov. Schwarzenegger's re-election operations effort). Yet, there he was, giving conservatives advice.
To be sure, when it comes to writing an attack ad that'll take the bark off of trees -- or staging an event with smiling kids standing behind a candidate -- Schmidt may be a genius (though I still wonder about that green screen at the GOP convention). But when it comes to advising conservatives on which policies they should support -- well, his advice is about as relevant as asking Pat Robertson how to precisely target voter mail in rural Iowa.
I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, though, and assume Schmidt legitimately believes embracing gay marriage would help Republicans win future elections.
But while winning elections may be the ultimate goal of a Republican strategist like Schmidt, it is merely a means to an end for conservatives concerned about winning public policy victories (and conservatives might note that electing Republicans is of little value if the culture continues to become more liberal).
Besides, the fact that conservatives have watched Republican victories not advance their goals -- probably undermines the argument that winning elections is what really matters.
Of course, while Schmidt is hardly the person to give conservatives advice, McCain's vapid daughter, Meghan McCain, is much less relevant. She, of course, shares Schmidt's opinion on gay marriage, but is even less qualified to be taken seriously. Sadly, that hasn't stopped her from garnering media attention and being given a platform for her insipid musings.
More interesting -- at least, to me -- was the National Journal story which shows that conservative bloggers are divided on the gay marriage issue.
Let me say that I have serious doubts about the selection process. For one thing, you could argue that Townhall.com, RedState, and National Review Online are the three most prominent conservative blogs -- yet I don't see anyone from any of those venues listed (you can find a list of the bloggers queried here). There are also several folks on the list whom I've never even heard of.
They also chose my good friend Jon Henke to be the most prominently featured conservative blogger (his quote is the first listed on the main page). Anyone who knows Jon, knows that he's always been more of a libertarian than anything else. My point, of course, is merely to say that his position shouldn't really be all that shocking to anyone.
I am confident I could put together a list of prominent conservative bloggers who would come to radically different conclusions on this question.
Does anyone doubt that if National Journal had instead queried Hugh Hewitt, Michelle Malkin, Erick Erickson, and Rich Lowry -- all equally (or more) prominent bloggers than the ones included (and, I would argue, more within the mainstream of conservative thought) -- that National Journal might have gotten a dramatically different responses?