Friday, February 15, 2008

James Forman on Mark Penn

James Forman with some thoughts on Clinton's chief strategist, Mark Penn:
Here's the latest absurd bit of spin from Mark Penn, trying to minimize Obama's mounting victories:

"Could we possibly have a nominee who hasn't won any of the significant states -- outside of Illinois?  That raises some serious questions about Sen. Obama."  (So MD and Virginia, which together have more votes than Ohio, are not significant?) 

This quote is actually representative of the the problem with Penn's influence and why it has hurt the Clinton campaign.  For over a year I've read Clinton people saying things that the world outside the bubble recognizes as doubtful (such as "Clinton's negatives aren't really that high," "she will win people over even those who say they hate her now, she did it in New York" etc.).  I've struggled with why really smart people believe this stuff.  The answer, I'm now sure, is Penn.  Penn's spin and the polls that he comes up with to justify the spin have profoundly influenced how the campaign sees its candidate and the world.  He has created a fairy tale, and as reality starts to hit, the campaign is ill-equipped to adjust and retool.  Why does this matter?  Because we currently have a president who lives in a bubble, isn't exposed to dissenting views, and says things as patently absurd as the Penn quote above.  We cannot afford another. 
More analysis here:


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