Friday, April 4, 2008

Spin it child

On the political front, here's a news item about the Clinton machine. Clinton aide met on trade deal.

Attendance by the adviser, Mark Penn, was confirmed by two Colombian officials. He wasn't there in his campaign role, but in his separate job as chief executive of Burson-Marsteller Worldwide, an international communications and lobbying firm. The firm has a contract with the South American nation to promote congressional approval of the trade deal, among other things, according to filings with the Justice Department.

So the chief Clinton strategist, whose candidate opposes (she alleges) the Colombian pact, is meeting with the Colombian government to brainstorm about getting the pact passed. Nice. I guess that's an example of comaprtmentalization: now I'm working for a candidate that opposes the pact that later I'll be working to pass. Hmm.

The spokesman [for Colombia's President Álvaro Uribe] said he didn't know if Mr. Penn was representing Sen. Clinton or Burson-Marsteller, which signed a $300,000, one-year contract with the Colombian Embassy in March 2007 to work on behalf of the trade deal and anti-drug-trafficking initiatives, according to the Justice Department filings.

Curiouser and curiouser. Yes, the spokesman said "There have also been meetings with the advisers to the campaigns of Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain," he said. "It's the embassy's job to explain Colombia's reality." Yet he added that he didn't know if Mr. Penn was representing Sen. Clinton or Burson-Marsteller. Aich, they'd do well to get their stories straight.

A spokesman for Sen. McCain, the likely Republican presidential nominee, said a team of policy advisers met recently with 20 Latin American ambassadors, including Colombia's. An Obama spokesman and the Colombian Embassy spokeswoman both said the Colombian ambassador had never met with an Obama representative.

Not that there is really anything wrong in meeting with Colombian representatives, but the chief strategist? Doesn't look too good. Doesn't this guy understand perception is important? Yes, he does, yet his arrogance won out over his sense of discretion and humility. I can get away with it and it won't matter, anyway. Call it the Spitzer defense, nu?

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