Power and Politics - I am Not the Yellow Peril

The life and times of an Asian American activist who tells all the truth (and dishes news and analysis) but with a leftwards slant.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Mark Penn gets canned

First by his client, the government of Columbia (not the District of Columbia), in its effort to push a free trade deal with the US.

Then he gets moved around like just another chess piece by the Clinton campaign. No, he didn't fully get canned - he's continuing to do polling for the campaign. But he will no longer be the chief adviser and campaign strategist that he loves being called.

I mean, the Latina running the campaign got fully dismissed, but the white dude gets to keep getting paid?!?!

Not sure how this is fair, but I am sure that this is what happens when you try to play both sides of an issue and you forget your ethical duty to not be Jack Ambramoff-like. No taking money from the tribes and the casinos and the taxpayers.

I'm glad Change to Win came forward to put additional pressure on the Clinton campaign.

Also, I'm sure that there are a lot of Hillary campaign staff who are exceedingly happy today, not to mention a number of top tier strategists who are quite gleeful. But it is a problem when the focus is on the adviser and not on the candidate. Additionally when people within the staff seem to hate their campaign strategist more than they do either their Democratic contender candidate or even the GOP nominee. It's a weird weird world and Penn seems to inspire that level of dislike. Hey, look at me, I'm blogging about him getting bumped down a few notches and I don't even know the guy!

The general consensus is that this was bound to happen.
That Mark Penn would one day step aside from the Clinton campaign has been, as they say in sociology, overdetermined for a while. He had few allies inside the campaign, he was subject to withering criticism in the press, and he simply refused to give up his outside work, some of which conflicted with Sen. Clinton's policy positions.

After Thursday's disclosure in the Wall Street Journal that Penn had met with the Columbian government about its trade agreement, Clinton's aides were put in the position of not being able to come up with a defense for Penn; he had done the indefensible. For Clinton, who has tolerated Penn's public errors in judgment because she believed in his strategy, it was the last straw.

"The senator and president were very angry about the meeting. Mark knew that he had made a very big mistake and decided to step aside," a senior campaign official said tonight.

Penn will continue to serve as the campaign's chief pollster. But it unlikely he will serve the campaign in any public capacity, such as participating on press conference calls or appearing as a television surrogate. (Marc Ambinder)

Well, I gotta say that this move should have happened a HELL of a lot sooner. as a matter of fact, it doesn't really give the Clinton camp much credibility if this is how they would run their presidency. Penn has clearly been rather incompetent and out of touch with what voters want to hear for a while.

Plus he's really smarmy and he's a TERRIBLE spokesman. He looks like the quintessential DC fat cat and any average viewer could tell you that. Paul Begala remains my favorite Hillary surrogate because he's unassuming and unpretentious.

Oh, let me also point out that I thoroughly wish that no self-respecting presidential or other campaign ever hire Mark Penn's services. Besides, check out his losing streak, according to DHinMI of dailykos!
Why the Clinton campaign would even keep him around is baffling; he has always sucked. It's hard to find information about his past clients via Google searches, but he's on a tremendous losing streak, one that's rumored to be at least 13 straight. I haven't been able to find anything he's won since Bill Clinton's 1996 reelection (in which Clinton didn't top 50%). He polled for Al Checchi when Checchi lost the three-way CA gubernatorial primary to Jane Harman and eventual winner Gray Davis in 1998. He got fired from the Gore campaign in 1999. In 2002 his clients included Dem gubernatorial primary losers Jim Blanchard in Michigan and Andrew Cuomo in New York, and his candidate Jeanne Shaheen lost the 2002 NH Senate race (she's got a different pollster this time around). In 2004 he polled for Joementum's presidential run and Peter Deutch's losing FL Senate primary against Betty Castor. In 2006 he even polled for asshole Silvio Berlusconi, who in addition to being a far-right scumbag—did I mention he's a far-right scumbag?—was the sitting prime minister of Italy, and owned most of the Italian media! (Check out this great "historical reenactment" of a Penn memo to Berlusconi.
Please let Penn go the way of James Carville.... or Dick Morris. No Democrats should hire him.

The Hillary brand has been damaged through a combination of Bill's eruptions, desperate name-calling, erosion of her standing as first lady, poor financial management, craptastic map strategy (who thought it was a good idea to skip the caucuses and to say that the vast majority of the states don't count!?!? . . . Oh wait. . . Penn was saying that Richardson is insignificant as of a few weeks ago.) they totally eroded her status as First Lady and reinforced all the things that people were prone to dislike about her - her kneecapping, the honesty issue, the sense of entitlement, the willingness to use any means to win, the Tracy Flick in her, the hardball chick, the Wonder woman/ iron will of her, and even things that should be admired.

At the end of the day, a lot of the things that people hate about Hillary are aspects of her strength and of her personality. And I still believe that there is much to admire about her. But jesus christ, the way she gets (or doesn't get) stuff done. Her demeanor is lacking. Her campaign staff are packing.

General election - it's time to get cracking.

(Yeah, I don't know why I broke out with the bad rhymes. Call it primary inertia and going stir crazy in the glass house we've built. It's this mind-numbing pain and dumbing frustration.)

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