Penn Speaks

PENN SPEAKS….Michelle Cottle wants us to read Lisa DePaulo’s Q&A with Mark Penn in GQ:

I highly recommend giving the piece a read, if for no other reason than to confirm all of your preexisting biases about what a spectacular egomaniac Penn is.

I’m on it! Actually, though, I found this passage a little more interesting than Penn’s obsessive self-defense:

You wanted to hit [Obama] harder?
Well, I wanted to question the basic underpinning of his campaign.

….Why didn’t you?
Well, I started down that road…. President Clinton took on the Iraq back-and-forth. But the rest of the campaign didn’t want to tackle Iraq. They always felt that that was a losing proposition for her, and they always pulled it back.

….Why do you think the rest of the team was afraid to go after him?
I think they thought that her position on Iraq wasn’t strong enough to sustain a debate on Iraq.

Or popular enough.
Right. But her position, remember — we went through the early discussion of “Was it a mistake? Should she apologize?” Of course, the rest of the team wanted her to apologize. [laughs] And you know, she weathered that extremely well. She didn’t apologize, because she had given a speech outlining her position. On that day. And that speech held up. It actually explained why she voted for Iraq and why it was a sincere vote at the time.

So does this mean that Penn and Bill Clinton were the team members primarily responsible for keeping Hillary from being more forthrightly contrite about her vote to authorize the war? I wouldn’t flat out say that this was the key issue that allowed Obama to beat her, but it certainly ranks in the top two or three.

As for the rest, it’s true that Penn spends most of the interview deflecting blame from himself. On the other hand, he also makes some fairly trenchant points about the difference in media treatment between Obama and Clinton that ring pretty true to my ears. Among other things, he brings up the driver’s license issue, the tears in New Hampshire, and the media’s general infatuation with all things Obama. And he also has this to say about the Obama campaign:

Look, there’s no question that the Obama campaign took comments that could not in any way, shape, or form in an objective reality be seen as racist, and they told surrogates to characterize them that way.

Apparently the healing process still has a ways to go. Still, the whole thing is worth a read. Underneath the spin there’s some interesting stuff.