We will probably never know exactly what was going on in the mind of State Auditor Tom Schweich, who committed suicide in his Clayton, Missouri, home yesterday, just minutes after confirming to a reporter that he would give an interview in his home later in the day.
Schweich was reportedly beside himself about rumors, allegedly being spread by Republican state chairman John Hancock — that he was Jewish. (Schweich believed Hancock favored Catherine Hanaway over him for the Republican nomination for governor next year.)
The fact is Schweich had a Jewish grandfather but was a practicing Episcopalian.
It is almost inconceivable that a false allegation of being Jewish would drive a seasoned politician with statewide experience to commit suicide. He knew that running against Hanaway her million-dollar donor/benefactor Rex Sinquefield was going to be rough. It would seem more than odd, then, that a relatively benign, easily disprovable allegation would throw him over the edge.
So, what we come to, as we do in nearly all suicide cases, is depression.
The “D” word hasn’t been mentioned in anything I’ve read — and I’ve read a lot — but that has to be a factor.
The biggest indicator I’ve seen that Schweich was coming unhinged before the suicide was a report I read in a blog called the Gateway Pundit, out of St. Louis. (I read the same thing elsewhere but can’t remember where.)
The Pundit said:
“Naturally high-strung, Schweich seemed unusually agitated — his voice sometimes quivering and his legs and hands shaking — when he told an AP reporter on Monday that he wanted to hold a press conference to allege that Missouri Republican Party Chairman John Hancock had made anti-Semitic remarks about him.
“Schweich postponed a planned press conference Tuesday. But he called the AP at 9:16 a.m. Thursday inviting an AP reporter to his home for a 2:30 p.m. interview and noting that a reporter from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch also had been invited. An AP reporter spoke with Schweich by phone again at 9:35 a.m. to confirm the upcoming interview.”
At 9:48 a.m., his wife called 911 to report that her husband had shot himself.
“…voice sometimes quivering and his legs and hands shaking.”
That — far more than a rumor being spread that he was Jewish — clearly signals that he was falling apart.
We expect our politicians to be in complete control — measured and composed — even under the greatest pressure and the ugliest of personal attacks. I’ve always admired how politicians like Bill Clinton and President Obama have carried on with equanimity while under attack from several sides.
Some people can stand up to that kind of pressure and spotlight, but only if they are well balanced psychologically and have the ability to let personal criticism slide off their backs…I’ll be the first to admit that, even though I have pretty thick skin, I couldn’t stand up to that kind of pressure — and wouldn’t voluntarily put myself in a situation where it was likely to emerge.
At one time, Schweich might have been up to that kind of pressure, but somewhere along the way — more than a year before the campaign sledding really got tough — depression must have taken hold.
And that, combined with fixation on whatever rumors were being spread — plunged him into the depths.
…I feel so bad about the misery that Tom Schweich went through the last few days, from the day his legs were shaking until yesterday morning. My heart, thoughts and prayers go out to his wife and daughters.
He was a good man, a straight arrow, and he probably would have been a very good governor. He was committed to rooting out corruption and cleaning up Missouri’s legislative cesspool.
Now, unfortunately, we’re probably left with a choice for governor between Hanaway, who’s already bought and paid for, and Chris Koster, our Democratic attorney general, who was the centerpiece of a recent New York Times expose.
Here’s the link to that story; it will make you sick…It shows, clearly, that Koster is also for sale.
So now, from all appearances, we’ve lost the one candidate who seemed capable of generating a fresh breeze through the marble halls of the State Capitol, and we’re left with two opportunists, either one of whom will probably keep fueling the stench.