Insert Your Own “Mark Penn Mightier Than the Sword” Joke Here


The resignation of pollster Mark Penn from Hillary Clinton’s campaign made the front page of both tabloids this morning, but the Daily News devoted most of its page-one real estate to the story, and on page 4 the paper’s Washington bureau chief, Thomas M. DeFrank, provides an analysis of why this is a good thing for the Clinton campaign, as Penn was a morale-buster within campaign staff. Penn is portrayed as a blowhard with an “arrogant, peremptory style” in both the News and the Post.

Penn’s consultation with the Colombian government about a trade deal that Hillary Clinton opposed was the last straw for the campaign. Penn has worked with both Clintons since 1996, when he helped guide Bill Clinton to his re-election. Much of the criticism lobbed toward Hillary Clinton for keeping Penn this long has stemmed from how she “prized loyalty above competence,” DeFrank argues. Both papers note one of Penn’s successes, which was the infamous “3 AM phone call” campaign ad that helped Clinton win the Ohio and Texas primaries.

What’s entertaining about these pieces is that you can just tell how much the press corps hates this guy. DeFrank features a vignette in which Penn battled with reporters during Bill Clinton’s second term:

Fielding a question he didn’t like, he breezily dismissed it with a silly nonanswer that even made his handler wince.

“That wasn’t my question,” the scribe protested.

“You have your answer,” Penn replied. “Next question.”

There is an undercurrent of glee in all the stories, but the best is the quote from an anonymous Clinton staffer in the Daily News that brings to mind a scenario straight out of Office Space: “I suspect there’ll be a lot of sighs of relief in the office on Monday.” Something tells me we’ll hear about it in the papers on Tuesday.