When it comes to US politics the ongoing primary battle is of main interest to the main British newspapers still and, of course, Mark Penn’s firing/resignation is making headlines here, too. Let’s have a look:
Mr Penn’s resignation is understood to have come after a clearly angry Mrs Clinton questioned his future with the campaign. Mrs Clinton, desperately in need of a strong victory over Mr Obama on April 22, had believed that her chief strategist had recused himself from any clients who could pose a political embarrassment to her White House campaign.
Penn’s fall will not be a steep one, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown purportedly will hire him as an adviser.
Penn’s departure will bring solace and concern to Clinton supporters. As architect of the campaign strategy, he was attacked for presenting Clinton early on as an “incumbent”. But his departure two weeks before the potentially crucial Pennsylvania primary will be seen as unsettling by most Clinton supporters.
And the Colombia gaffe wasn’t the first activity before Penn finally tripped and fell on his sword:
As early as last summer, the revelation that Burson-Marsteller [Penn's PR firm] operated an aggressive union-busting programme raised questions over Penn’s role in the Clinton campaign, even though he claimed not to be personally involved in the activities highlighted.
Michael Tomasky feels it is far too late, anyhow, the Clinton’s have stood with Penn for too long now:
But it [the demise of Penn brand of conservatism] wasn’t apparent to Penn. And by extension we can conclude it wasn’t apparent to the Clintons either (revealing, considering Bill’s alleged political genius). Hillary’s refusal to renounce her vote in support of the Iraq war – a refusal that I have no doubt was based on Penn’s advice, on the grounds that she had to continue to show she could be “tough” on foreign policy – was a disaster for her, as was the vote itself. If, in a few weeks’ time, we’re writing Clinton campaign post-mortems, her handling of Iraq will be deservedly high on the list of errata, and it was classic Pennism.
“Senator Clinton was disappointed that meetings with Colombians had occurred. She is a strong opponent of the trade deal,” said a Clinton campaign official speaking on condition of anonymity. “Over the weekend he recognised he needed to step aside as chief strategist,” he said.
The departure of her top official is a major blow to Mrs Clinton and could help fuel a sense of crisis in her candidacy.
But several other senior advisers had long argued that Mr Penn should be fired because his strategy of making her the “inevitable candidate” had plainly failed.
I suppose that “asked to give up his role” in the same way that Patti Solis Doyle, who was summarily fired shortly after Super Tuesday, decided to spend more time with her family. And he’ll continue “to provide polling and advice to the campaign” in the same way as Solis Doyle is a “senior adviser”. But as to rupertornelius’s intriguing question “if mark penn were toast… and you buttered him ….on which side would he land if dropped?” I’d suggest buttery side up. He’ll be forever blamed by many as the man who lost it for Clinton but he’ll continue to poll and advise and make more money than you or I could imagine. In politics, reputations survive distasterous performances – just as Bob Shrum.
At the end of the day the buck stops with Hillary Clinton, however. I seriously doubt that Mark Penn’s resignation or firing, whatever, after such a long period of “stay the course” will save Hillary Clinton’s campaign. If anything, it proves her poor or even inexistent independent judgement. Her holding onto Penn’s strategy, despite its obvious inefficiency, for such a long time, makes me wonder about her mental flexibility, too.
Have a good, healthy and happy day, everyone!