Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Mark Penn Memo Surfaces, Proves Obama is Right

For one reason or another Hilary Clinton hired Mark Penn as her chief adviser for the Democratic primary (which, if you have been living under a rock, she lost). Today, however, Penn's truest colors have been cast for the rest of the world to see and his xenophobia is Lou Dobbs-esque. A memo was recently leaked in which Penn described the Democratic nominee as someone whose ties to America should be questioned and someone who could not lead the country in a time of war because he was not "fundamentally American."

Specifically, Penn stated: "all of these articles about his boyhood in Indonesia and his life in Hawaii are geared toward showing his background is diverse, multicultural and putting that in a new light. Save it for 2050," and, "It also exposes a very strong weakness for him -- his roots to basic American values and culture are at best limited. I cannot imagine America electing a president during a time of war who is not at his center fundamentally American in his thinking and in his values." So Penn thinks that having a multicultural, diverse background is not fundamentally American. Maybe Penn would like a more white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant to be running (cape and pointed hood sold seperately). I thought that it was stories like Obama's - hard work and perseverance in the face of great obstacles to reach success - that made America great. But apparently Penn thinks being multicultural hinders one's ability to lead a country, so until 2050 we should have all-white leaders (and no white ethnics, either, because they could be considered "multicultural") and then we can re-evaluate the situation in 42 years.

Clinton should have canned Penn when he wrote the memo in March of 2007. Instead, she allowed him to "run" the campaign (run is in quotes because it is unclear who was the helm of the campaign at all) until April 6, 2008 when she found out that Penn had been doing deals with the Colombians to help secure a trade deal that she had already publicly opposed. Behavior like this is hardly surprising, as Al Gore fired him early on in his presidential run for "flippant" responses in meetings and the VP's senior advisers who felt that Penn was arrogant and controlling. (Nota Bene: Gore's loss was not based on policy or numbers crunching [he technically won in Florida, but let's not get into that] but more because of his impersonal image and Bush's likebale image.) Penn simply should have not been on the campaign, but the Clintons are a clan who really value loyalty - even when things like "logic" and "reason" get in the way.

Obama has repeatedly said that his opponents - namely Republicans - will try to point to his background and scare voters because his is not the upbringing and image of most politicians - wealthy, privileged, white. The sad fact is that Obama is right. Not only have the Republicans been doing this since the primaries, but now we find out that some of the Democracts pondered doing the same thing. Instead of illegitimizing Obama's role as an American, Penn has simply validated Obama's musings on his opponents and their willingness to take the low road when it comes to politics and race. I can say the following with confidence: I will never vote for someone who uses Mark Penn as an adviser. Peace.

Photos - Mark Penn (www.guardian.co.uk), Obama and Clinton (www.msnbc.msn.com), Penn again (www.businessweek.com)

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