Monday, April 7, 2008


Mark Penn is being forced out as the chief adviser in Hillary Clinton's campaign. This is a person who has been very closely allied with the Clinton's since 1996. A co-founder of what became one of the most influential and well respected polling firms in the country, Mr. Penn has been involved in helping shape strategy on campaigns from Ed Koch, to David Dinkins, to Bill Clinton, and Hillary Clinton. From 2000 on , he has played an important role on Ms. Clinton's team. Now he is on the outside looking in. While still given a limited position through his polling company, Mark Penn is being demoted. With the Clinton attempts to derail the Obama engine having failed, it looks increasingly like a Clinton train wreck is inevitable. Mr. Penn is but one of its victims.

While we would like to think that every word coming from our candidates originates from their hearts , their minds and their mouths, we all know that this is more fiction than reality. For Senator Clinton, that seems to be the unfortunate centerpiece of her personality. While she may have interesting and insightful views, many of us get the uncomfortable feeling that every word she speaks is a result of analysis, dissection and discussion. This lack of spontaneity is a part of what many find troubling with her.

Senator Obama gave a stirring speech several weeks ago concerning the ongoing problems with race relations in our country. One of the reasons for its overwhelming appeal, was that the words appeared to be coming straight from his heart. We were told that these were the thoughts and phrases of the candidate himself. This was not coming from an analysis of the pros and cons of every syllable and its impact on a certain voter group, but from deeply felt personal beliefs. It was compelling in its frankness.

For Senator Clinton, the course laid out for her has had no such shining moments. While she spoke early in the campaign of finding her voice, I don't think many of us feel that she has done this . Through Mr. Penn , and others in her inner circle, she has not been certain of her approach. On occasion, she has forced the attack on Senator Obama, only to find that to be viewed with less than great enthusiasm. It has made her, at times, appear desperate and mean spirited. Her message has never seemed to find a home, and she has always seemed to struggle to be heard.

The blame for these failings has to fall on those trusted to help shape the candidacy. Chief among these for Senator Clinton was Mr. Penn. With the decision to sever at least part of the relationship with him, it is but another signal that times are becoming increasingly difficult for the Clinton campaign. When we find that , this late in the day, those central to her are being asked to step aside, the signs are unmistakable. We await the results from Pennsylvania before seeing if Senator Clinton will bow out of the race. Whether she does,or decides to stay and fight yet another day, it appears that the end is near.

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