Friday, April 4, 2008

Penn Again

Regular readers might remember earlier posts detailing my reasons for judging Mark Penn, Hillary's chief political strategist, as a corrupt, craven, arrogant bastard.

In addition to crafting her fantastically stupid "inevitability strategy," Penn is responsible for niche-oriented micro-targeting of voters (smell the Rove?), attempting to smear Obama with decades-old cocaine charges, creating the gazillion different campaign messages Clinton has tried to make work, taking spin to mind-bending levels of absurdity, and heading a firm that counsels or represents union busting companies. That last point is particularly rich since Hillary has suddenly become Miss Working Class Hero in need of deflated rust belt voters.

Well, nothing has changed, of course, except that now he seems even more intent harming his candidate (hmmm...maybe he's an Obama mole, that would explain a lot). The Wall Street Journal has the story:
Clinton Aide Met on Trade Deal
Hillary Clinton's chief campaign strategist met with Colombia's ambassador to the U.S. on Monday to discuss a bilateral free-trade agreement, a pact the presidential candidate opposes. […]
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. […]
Mr. Penn has been scrutinized over the dual roles he holds with his firm and the Clinton campaign. Burson-Marsteller's contract advising the Colombian government is one of several examples of the firm advising clients on causes Sen. Clinton has opposed.
The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder chimes in:
News that Hillary Clinton's chief strategist, Mark Penn, took a meeting with Columbian officials to talk about ways to advance a free trade deal is at once not surprising, given Penn's refusal to step down from his position as CEO of Burson-Marsteller. I've asked several Clinton aides and advisers for their reaction. Some declined to comment. Others responded with pejoratives, but since I don't print anonymous pejoratives as a policy, I will refrain from sharing them. […]
One of the toughest tasks for a political journalist these days is to try and find someone in Clinton world who is willing to defend Mr. Penn or his sense of political optics.
And The Field's Al Giordano:
I can’t remember a presidential campaign in my lifetime in which the top strategist moonlighted for corporate accounts during the heat of the primaries (if that’s really what he was doing with the Colombian ambassador, as claimed: note that the Embassy told the Journal that it didn’t know which hat Penn was wearing). The conflict of interest is staggering. Add to that press reports about how former campaign manager Patty Solis Doyle went to Senator Clinton and begged her to fire Penn, but it was Solis Doyle, not the man in charge, that was cut loose as scapegoat for the campaign’s ailments.
Somewhere in Pennsylvania there is a factory that employs Americans at union wages. Somewhere in North Carolina and Indiana, too… The “free trade” agreement that Penn was paid $300,000 to shepherd to passage would open the door for the company that owns the factory to move it to a country where if a worker tries to start a union, chances are he or she will be assassinated. The company will be able to get the same work done, in that case, for slave wages, and without any of those pesky environmental, safety and health regulations that protect the worker in Pennsylvania.
Clinton’s March 3 challenge to the press corps - “”I would ask you to look at this story and substitute my name for Sen. Obama’s name and see what you would do with this story” - is eerily reminiscent of when a certain Colorado senator running for president in 1988 denied reports about his private life and urged reporters: “”Follow me around. I don’t care. I’m serious. If anybody wants to put a tail on me, go ahead. They’ll be very bored.
The Jed Report, as usual, has a great video compilation of Hillary virtually oozing hypocrisy:

As an Obama supporter, I say, keep this guy coming. The more press this skeeve gets, the better for Obama. I just can't for the life of me understand why Clinton hasn't sent him packing.

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