Saturday, February 16, 2008

Mark Penn's an Idiot

Ok, Hillary's not dumb. But what the hell can we call anyone who not only thinks Mark Penn is intelligent, but is willing to pay him big bucks for years to run the strategy part of your presidential campaign? Not dumb, but what? I don't know.

Mark Penn is a huge fool, the kind of guy Rove would be if he didn't play dirty and had half his brain removed. At least Rove has an intutive sense of valid sounding arguments, and if his arguments blow your mind, they're so wacko that it makes you lose your ability to speak. That takes talent. But when Mark Penn blows your mind, you still have the ability to laugh your ass off and have no problem explaining why he's totally wrong.

Here's the one I'm thinking of now:
Winning Democratic primaries is not a qualification or a sign of who can win the general election. If it were, every nominee would win because every nominee wins Democratic primaries.”

What the hell is he talking about? Of course winning primaries is a sign of who can win the general election. Is it a guarantee you'll win? Of course not and there can't be anyone who believes it will. Nor does getting a PhD in Chemistry guarantee you'll get a science job, or winning a Heisman guarantee you'll be a first-round draft choice in the NFL. But they're certainly good indicators. "Qualification" does not mean you'll get the job. But it can be used as evidence that you'll be good at it.

Similarly, losing lots of primaries is evidence you'll lose the general election; particularly when both candidates are running on the same platform. It's one thing when a moderate loses races against the extremist who appeals to the base, like when a loser like Huckabee can steal wins from McCain. But the fact that Barack and Hillary make the same basic appeals and people still prefer the lesser-known candidate, that's a bad sign for Hillary. And that's one of the weird things about guys like Penn: They somehow imagine that labeling your candidate as being "invincible" is somehow more convincing than actual primary wins. For them, image creates reality.

And there can be no doubt that he's only saying this out of desperation. But that's the same with just about everything coming out of the Hillary campaign. It's one thing to be desperate. But you still shouldn't telegraph to the world exactly how desperate you are. When a Rove, Limbaugh, or O'Reilly is desperate, they can think through twenty-five levels of absurdity to dig out some non sequitar that leaves your mind reeling. You know they're wrong, but they're so fricking wrong that it's difficult to know where to begin to refute it. In fact, Stephen Colbert's genius is his ability to add back enough reality to what they're saying that the joke becomes obvious again.

In contrast, Penn just seems to work on one level of absurdity, but seems to think he's a genius all the same. And the fact that Hillary keeps this guy around is surely a bad sign of her mental prowess too. At a minimum, she needs to keep a muzzle on him before finding some backdoor way of getting rid of him. But it doesn't excuse the fact that she clearly agrees with what he says.

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