The pundits are picking over Clinton adviser Mark Penn’s political carcass today, with plenty of help from sources within the Hillary camp. Penn, and his $15 million paycheck, made himself a lot of enemies within the campaign, and they’re all eager to get a kick in.
Falling out of love with Bill: For me and most of the people I know, the postpresidential love for Bill Clinton has evaporated completely and breathtakingly fast. No matter how many mosquito nets and microloans he helps supply to the Third World, I’m out of love. I found Bill Richardson’s endorsement of Obama two weeks ago especially gratifying not in spite of its fuck-you to his former patron but because of it.. — Kurt Anderson,New York Magazine
Penn’s downfall: Until now Penn had successfully dodged a barrage of bullets from Clinton campaign advisers disgruntled with his choice of tactics, his unwavering belief in the power of poll-tested messages and his chilly personality. Dating back to at least Clinton’s loss in Iowa, staffers have been privately wishing him the worst. And yet Penn’s closeness to Bill Clinton (his Burson-Marsteller office is decorated with several framed notes of “To Mark Penn, Thanks,” from President Clinton, including one across a Washington Post with the headline reading “Clinton Acquitted”) and the confidence the candidate ultimately had in him allowed him to hold onto the title of chief strategist, one he cherished and was proud of, even as his few allies argued that his influence in the struggling campaign had waned. — Jason Horowitz, The New York Observer
Picking on Penn: Although the campaign’s statement announcing Penn’s departure as chief strategist suggested he would continue to give advice to her effort, it is impossible to overstate how fundamental a change this represents in Clinton’s campaign. Penn has had almost full autonomy to make major decisions involving what the candidate says, where she goes, and what gets conveyed in her advertisements. Even as many in the campaign had turned sour on Penn, he reportedly enjoyed the confidence of both Hillary and Bill Clinton. — Mark Halperin, Time
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Why Hillary should be winning: Unlike the Republicans, the Democrats in primary states choose their nominee on the basis of a convoluted system of proportional distribution of delegates that varies from state to state and that obtains in neither congressional nor presidential elections. It is this eccentric system that has given Obama his lead in the delegate count. If the Democrats heeded the “winner takes all” democracy that prevails in American politics, and that determines the president, Clinton would be comfortably in front. In a popular-vote winner-take-all system, Clinton would now have 1,743 pledged delegates to Obama’s 1,257. — Sean Wilentz, Salon
Remember John McCain?: He’s the guy who was running for president before all the national attention shifted to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Now, McCain seems to be only an afterthought, at best, or an anachronism, at worst. He has got to get back into the game, otherwise he will never be in contention. Forget that he leads in the polls. That means nothing. His lead is only the consequence of the division among Democrats. Supporters of Hillary are quite incapable of uttering the “O” word to a pollster and Obama backers won’t admit that they’d ever back Hillary. But once the they settle on a nominee — provided there is no super delegate larceny involved — Democrats will be Democrats and McCain’s lead will vanish. He has got to use this period, when he is not under attack, to flesh out his image and begin his campaign. — Dick Morris and Eileen McGann, Townhall
Obama is no King: If Obama were to be read a list of the positions that his clerical supporters take on everything from Judaism to sodomy, he would be in the smooth and silky business of “distancing” from now until November. And that is why he hopes that his Philadelphia speech, which dissociated him from everything and nothing, will be enough. He seems, indeed, to have a real gift for remaining adequately uninformed about the real beliefs of his “mentors.” This is a lot sadder, and a lot more serious, than has been admitted. Four decades after the murder in Memphis of a friend of the working man—a hero who was always being denounced by the FBI for his choice of secular and socialist friends and colleagues—the national civil rights pulpit is largely occupied by second-rate shakedown artists who hope to franchise “race talk” into a fat living for themselves. — Christopher Hitchens, Slate
The early Obama: For the past year, Barack Obama has been constantly represented as walking a racial tightrope of needing to seem black enough, but not too black. (Put the phrase “racial tightrope” into a search engine, and you’ll find a dizzying array of reports on the Obama candidacy.) But the particular tightrope he had to walk in 2000 was different: he was a black, Harvard-trained University of Chicago law professor, running against an incumbent former Black Panther Party chairman in a district that has been called the political capital of black America. — RealClearPolitics