Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Mark Penn and the Isiah Thomas question

As Nick pointed out in the comments a few posts back, Mark Penn is out as Clinton's chief strategist.

I've devoted a decent amount of posts to this asshole, so I'll write bit more about his dismissal/ or not really dismissal as details of what actually happened come out over the course of the week.

But for the moment I'll just mention that if he really was fired, it raises an interesting question. A few weeks ago, I was talking to a few fellow NBA fans (possibly dcjonesy or LSouth, can't quite remember) and we were having a laugh at the expense of the Knicks franchise. We were debating the idiocy of their owner James Dolan, and when he would finally see the writing on the wall and fire their GM(actually he has since been fired from this job)/Coach, former NBA legend Isiah Thomas.

Then someone brought up a pretty interesting point: If Isiah Thomas hadn't been fired for ruining the Knicks franchise in every way possible since he took over (leagues highest payroll, near-worst record, trades and contracts that guarantee they will be bad for years to come, constant bad press and drama which included a sex scandal that tarnished the franchise in addition to a large court settlement), why would they fire him now? If he didn't get fired for any of that, why are we so sure he's gonna get fired now? It's not like its gonna be a surprise when he makes the next bad move, and when he inevitably does, what makes it any worse than the other stuff he did that seemed to be fine with their owner?

And that's why this whole thing reminds me of Mark Penn. If Hillary Clinton was cool with all of the other stuff he was doing (unionbusting, consulting for blackwater and loansharks, being a disingenuous pollster and truly moronic strategist), what makes this different from the pattern? I mean if none of that stuff got him fired, and anyway why was this any worse than what he had already done? And when you read the news the most recent scandal over the Columbia FTA, was anybody actually shocked? Of course they weren't! He's a right wing hack! What else would he be doing? Would you be shocked tomorrow if Isiah traded Nate Robinson, David Lee and next years number one for Ricky Davis and case of beer? Of course not! He's a terrible GM! That's what he does!

And if James Dolan is dumb enough to let someone as inept as Isiah Thomas run his franchise, then the blame lies squarely at his feet. And there's no difference with Hillary Clinton. She knows he's an amoral hack, and frankly the fact that she would give some like that complete control of her campaign tells you all you need to know about her judgment and leadership skills.

So it looks like Mark Penn may have actually lost his job. If I were Isiah, I'd be watching my back.


  1. just like when her other strategist stepped down a few weeks back, i'm gonna have to ask once again whether this is ultimately a good thing or a bad thing for Hillary. on one hand, it makes her look like she's spiraling out of control and losing key pieces mid-stream & at vital times in her campaign.

    but would it have actually been better if she remained tied to this buffoon throughout so as to prove exactly how contradictory she was? a little bit of both maybe?

  2. See at this point, I'm really not sure if it has too much of an effect or not. What's funny about this whole situation is that if she had made him give up his business dealings while working on her campaign (like even W. made rove do), this wouldn't have been an issue. It would have been an issue with me, and probably others me who wouldn't have voted for her based on his association with these groups, but the issue would have never hit the mainstream press.

    For the record I also think it says a lot about how Mark Penn was used to getting such a free pass from the media that he did this without thinking twice. It's just as much of an indictment of the press for having let him get away with this shit for the entire campaign as it is a knock on Hillary Clinton.

  3. i see what you mean about the media, J. i know we've talked about this before, but the fact is that the media does not care about things like free trade agreements. the only reason i can think of why this is the case is that, by and large, the general public doesn't care about them, so the media will choose to focus solely on race, "the economy," immigration and the candidates' personal lives (and health care, to a lesser extent).

    the media has absolutely failed in looking at Clinton's ties to Penn more critically. its our job to examine ALL the facts regardless of personal opinion (in this case, editors & tv news producers), and yes, even ahead of ratings. unfortunately, reporting the news is a business and in the case of print media, business is bad.

  4. dcjonesy, you're right about people not caring about trade agreements. The fact of the matter is that most people don't understand trade agreements and don't try to learn about them. As a nation, we are grossly uninformed about major issues affecting our country, and this sucks. It's like that article J.D. sent out a while back about the dumbing down of America. Sorry about this rant, but I see it everyday. If people have to think about something, it's like you asked them to jump in front of a moving train or something, they just won't do it.

    On a lighter note, I think David Stern should find a way to make the Robinson and Lee for Davis and a case of beer trade happen. I think Isiah needs a little booze to go with all of that sexual harassment going on in MSG.