THE BLOG
12/08/2008 04:46 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Okey Dokey

Your favorite political blog probably linked to a downright nasty profile of former Clinton pollster Mark Penn by The Independent. But if you haven't read the passage that Teagan Goddard's Political Wire called "the quote of the day," let me do the honors. The Independent's interviewer asked Penn about why he had said, in a March 2007 memo, that "Obama was unelectable?"

"Huh. No. It doesn't say that at all." Yes it does, if the facsimile published by Atlantic Monthly magazine is correct. The great communicator appears thrown. "Those memos, right, that came out, were really ... er, were really, I think, show you, you know, just a piece, because ... a small part, a piece of how we were looking to, I think, set up or solve the fact that he was a very strong candidate."

In the March 19, 2007 memo, published by my colleague Josh Green, Penn had written: "The right knows that Obama is unelectable except perhaps against Atila the Hun, and a third party would come in then anyway."

Later in the same memo, Penn had mocked "all of these articles about his boyhood in Indonesia, and his life in Hawaii" that demonstrated Obama's "diverse multicultural" background. "Save it for 2050...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 his values."

The interviewer also asked about that passage:

Not fundamentally American? That's a very serious accusation to make in US politics. Even Sarah Palin wasn't that direct. "Well, really," says Penn awkwardly, "it really just says [Hillary] should emphasise her roots ... I think that at the time he was touting a more internationalist outlook."

As Senator Clinton herself might put it, "Okey dokey artichokey."