August 13, 2008


Clinton Declined, but McCain Won't (Mark Davis, 8/13/08, Real Clear Politics)

"His roots to basic American culture and values are at best limited," Mr. Penn wrote in March 2007. "I cannot imagine America electing a president at a time of war who is not at his center fundamentally American in his thinking and values."

(And they say Democrats and Republicans can't agree on anything.)

He continues: "Let's explicitly own 'American' in our programs, the speeches and the values ... he doesn't."

Predictably, those now tasked with paving the way for an Obama ascendancy are awash in contrived indignation. "It's an appeal to prejudice. I think it's ugly," frowns Democratic consultant Bob Shrum. "If Hillary Clinton had done that, she would permanently besmirch her reputation, her legacy and her place in American politics."

Or she might have been delivering a Thursday night convention speech.

In state after state, primary voters who like their presidents to cleave to their country's roots and culture gave Mrs. Clinton victories that almost allowed her to rally.

Had she been more aggressive in this regard, I believe she would have won. Now, her torment will be complete, as John McCain uses exactly that strategy to reveal Mr. Obama as insufficiently woven into the tapestry of the nation he seeks to lead.

Can McCain Use Advice Clinton Got on Obama? (Dan Balz, 8/12/08, Washington Post)
Penn was always the biggest hawk in Clinton's campaign, always the one who advocated going negative against Obama. The day after the senator from New York won primaries in Ohio and Texas, Penn called for drawing a sharp contrast with Obama along the following lines:

"He is just words and she is a lifetime of action. . . . She is the one who is ready to fill the big shoes of this job and he is an inspiring speaker who isn't, and whose background you are beginning to wonder about. She has brought real results and even his words today are in doubt, invented for a campaign. Ultimately he cannot win against John McCain."

Clinton's campaign, he argued, "must now in earnest show that their image of Obama Camelot is simply nothing but campaign pitter-patter."

At the end of the day on March 30, he wrote an even more pointed memo. He argued that Obama needed to be "vetted" on the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., his former pastor; on his ties to the corrupt Tony Rezko; and on his record in the Illinois legislature and the U.S. Senate.

"Does anyone believe it is possible to win the nomination without, over these two months, raising all these issues against him?" Penn wrote. "A 'nice' campaign that wins the states alone that can be won -- will that be enough or do serious issues have to raised about him?"

...that Democrats should take what they believe seriously and that it is important for them to govern the country--in what sense then can Ms Clinton be said to have served her party and country well in declining to make the argument that her opponent is unelectable?

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 13, 2008 8:11 AM
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