Mark Penn: Political Swine Flu

06/06/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Like H1N1, Mark Penn has human, pig, and avian DNA. And like his viral cousin, Penn was bred in a corporate pig sty. Penn recently raised his snout from the trough to wax philosophically about Hillary's defeat. Were it not for John Edwards, he opined, I imagine gesturing animatedly with his trotters, Hillary might have enjoyed an edge.

Allow me to translate: Penn says Edwards stole the old racist vote from Hillary!

Of course, this is absolute rubbish. It's an insult to Edwards, to Hillary Clinton, to Barack Obama, and to Democratic primary voters. Although true that some racists probably voted for Clinton over Obama--Mudcat Sanders, Edwards's man, nobly said during the primaries that John Edwards didn't want any racist votes--even demographically, Edwards' presence or lack thereof wasn't the reason Hillary lost. As became clear once Edwards exited post-Florida, his voters split fairly evenly between Obama and Clinton.

Older, less educated voters did gravitate to Clinton, but they were at least offset by the more progressive voters who found Obama closer to Edwards' economic populism.

The elephant in the room, apart from the crippling incompetence of the porcine Penn himself, is obviously the Iraq war. I have no desire to malign Hillary Clinton, who by all indications is conducting herself admirably in furtherance of American foreign policy, and who was always an excellent public servant. However, we forget or obscure the importance of her Iraq war vote to the cost of future political decision making and the security and well-being of our country.

When Hillary Clinton voted for the Iraq war she made Barack Obama possible. If she had taken a position of leadership against the war, she would be President today. She was elected in 2000 and did not have to face reelection until 2006. She came from one of the most progressive states in the Union. She was the most prominent female politician in America and arguably the Senator with the greatest celebrity and name recognition. Had she thrown her weight into opposition, she might have delayed or even stopped the war. Instead, tellingly, she did not even read the National Intelligence Estimate.

I suspect that her decision making was shaped by advice from Penn, et al. They failed her. Although poll numbers on war with Iraq seemed daunting, behind the numbers it was clear that Americans only supported war with Iraq under a narrow set of conditions: if Iraq possessed WMD and was poised to use them against the United States. Had Clinton, like Obama, framed her opposition to the war in the limited, pragmatic terms that Obama did--"I am not opposed to all wars, just dumb wars"--she would almost certainly be President today.

Penn scoffed at "humanizing" Hillary Clinton, saying that if shown to be soft Clinton "would have gotten zero votes from men." There's your Iraq war vote in a nutshell.

If only she had been more like Jeanette Rankin and less like John McCain.

Clinton is a good public servant, a brilliant person, and might have made a fine President. But because of the lessons that we should draw from her defeat, it is a good thing for America and the world that she lost.

When swine like Mark Penn lie in this odious fashion, they are falsifying the public record at the expense of making future tragedies like the Iraq war that much more likely.

One final note. The DNC has been sending out letters begging for money to retire Hillary Clinton's debt. Recent campaign finance filings reveal that Clinton's remaining debt is entirely to Penn's firm. Don't do it. Penn doesn't deserve a cent.