Friday, April 11, 2008

Penn = Rumsfeld?

By Michael J.W. Stickings

From Sam Stein at HuffPo:

Longtime Clinton adviser and confidant Paul Begala took full aim at Mark Penn on Friday, expressing scorn for the recently demoted strategist, and comparing his time with the Clinton campaign to that of Donald Rumsfeld's tenure as Secretary of Defense.

"I have nothing but contempt for Mr. Penn," said Begala at a New York City breakfast sponsored by the non-profit group Public Agenda. "And for those of us who wanted to see him out from the beginning, it became almost a Rumsfeldian thing. And he is not even fired. He has been demoted. How could this be?"

Seriously, Begala doesn't know how it could be? Is it really possible that someone who has spent so much time deep in the heart of Clintonworld, if not necessarily Hillaryland, could be so clueless? I mean, it's not like Penn has never been good for/to the Clintons and their interests. Remember 1996? Remember Bill's second term? Or how about his work for Clinton friend Tony Blair? (And, of course, he and Bill are on the same side with respect to Colombia and free trade. Penn may be too centrist/conservative for the liking of Hillarylanders, but is he not a rather good Clintonian?)

Penn may be a rather loathsome political creature, and many in Clintonworld/Hillaryland (like Begala) may dislike him intensely, and perhaps justifiably so, but "nothing but contempt" for a Clinton loyalist from another seems a bit strong -- not to mention disingenuous, opportunistic, and revisionistic.

(Penn = Rumsfeld? Ouch. But I'm not sure if that's more of an insult to Penn or Rumsfeld.)

(For a tempered defence of Penn, see The Plank's Josh Patashnik here.)

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