Sunday, April 6, 2008

Potomac Land Blues

After his apology, Senator Clinton's chief strategy gets the double whammy: Colombia fired his firm, and then he resigned form her campaign. A sacrifice of a not-virgin to satisfy the gods.

Chief Strategist of Clinton Campaign Steps Down Mark Penn has stepped aside as chief strategist in the wake of revelations that he lobbied on behalf of a trade treaty with Colombia that Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton opposes.
While we're at it, let's blame him for a shitload of things. He has also been held responsible for the flawed electoral strategy considered partly responsible for Mrs. Clinton’s difficult political position, trailing Senator Barack Obama by more than a hundred delegates and with a very narrow path to winning the Democratic nomination. This is a man who has been associated with Mrs. Clinton and former President Bill Clinton for a dozen years.

But, not everything is lost. His polling firm, Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, will continue to provide polling and advice to the campaign, the statement said.

Perception is one thing, business another.

Mr. Penn, long a divisive figure within the Clinton camp ... Several American union leaders called for Mr. Penn’s dismissal on Friday and top officials within the Clinton campaign grumbled loudly that Mr. Penn had given the campaign a black eye at a critical moment ... A person within the Clinton campaign said Sunday that Mrs. Clinton was “disappointed” that Mr. Penn had taken on Colombia as a client and had met with Colombian officials to advise them on how to win passage of a pact she has publicly denounced.

So he had a bad reputation, and was a lobbyist for a client that his political boss denounced repeatedly.

Mrs. Clinton was said to be furious when she learned that he was employed by and consulting with the Colombians on the trade treaty.

Okay, she covers her ass that way: she was furious when she learned, supposedly, something she should have long known, and likely did -- and if she didn't , what does that say about her analytical abilities? He tried to cover both sides.

Mr. Penn apologized Friday and said the meeting had been a mistake. The Colombians, offended by what they called an insult from a hired lobbyist and spokesman, fired him and Burson-Marsteller on Saturday.

But, it didn't work. Still, all is not lost. The Clinton campaign aide said Mr. Penn concluded over the weekend that he had to step aside as chief strategist to avoid further embarrassment to Mrs. Clinton. She did not try to talk him out of it, but the aide said Mrs. Clinton did not dismiss him outright. “He will continue to provide polling and advice as part of the team,” the Clinton aide said.

So she was furious that he gave her campaign a black eye at a crucial campaign moment by representing a client that signifies one of her strong political stands, and allowed him to resign as a staff member of her campaign, but will continue to get advice from him, as a consultant, advice for which she will pay. Spin it, baby, spin it.

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