by John Dankosky – Sometimes stories you hear surprise you. Sometimes, not at all. When we learned this week about the threatening, profane tirade by Sean Smith, the outgoing communications chief for Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, it struck me as…well, just about what I’d expect.
Smith was campaign manager for Joe Lieberman during his 2006 re-election campaign. As you’ll see if you click the previous link, liberal bloggers didn’t…and don’t like him very much. They didn’t like his bogus claim that Ned Lamont’s campaign had somehow hacked Lieberman’s election site (later proven bogus by the FBI) and they didn’t like his nasty attacks on the Democrat, who beat Lieberman in that Democratic primary in August. But, he didn’t make a whole lot of friends in the “traditional” media ranks, either.
On the day after Lamont’s win, I filed this story for NPR‘s All Things Considered. By the time it aired in the afternoon, Smith had already been fired by Lieberman. But his seething rebuke of the Democratic establishment which had embraced his candidate for so long was still the lead of my story.
In the early morning hours, after his candidate’s close defeat, Sean Smith looked angry. Angry at Democratic voters eager to throw out 18 years of Senate experience, and angry at a party that wouldn’t have Joe Lieberman as its candidate.
Mr. SEAN SMITH (Former Campaign Manager, Joe Lieberman): Joe Lieberman is now going to friendlier territory, to all the voters of Connecticut. And I think the Democrats are going to learn something about that, too. You can nominate someone from the far left and they can win a primary, but they can’t win a general election. And I hope we pay attention in 2008.
Listen to the story, and you’ll hear what words on a page can’t convey.
Looking back, I’ll admit that lead was too kind. Smith didn’t “look” angry…he was angry that night, and was often angry at members of the media throughout the campaign.
As I read the words in his recent angry email, ”I swear to f—ing god I am going to come over to ICE and f—cking decapitate every single person,” in the press department at immigration, all I could think is: “Can’t a department like Homeland Security find anyone else to do this work?”
When working in an organization that treads such a fine line in issues of terrorism and illegal immigration, the messengers need to have a diplomat’s touch, not the bite of a rabid dog. Smith’s apology? ”I’m sorry for saying such dumb things.”
Not dumb, Sean. Mean, angry, wrong.