The Barack Obama / Hillary Clinton tensions do not seem to be lessoning. Amongst the just released memos is a particularly harsh anti-Obama memo written by Clinton’s chief strategist Mark Penn in March of 2007. Penn’s memo outlines why Obama shouldn’t be considered a potential contender for the American presidency:

“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 … 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.”


From a strategic standpoint, Penn’s line of attack may have been understandable, if rather cynical, when the letter was written well over a year ago. But the nastiness of the missive and its release so close to the convention is not going to make Obama supporters warm any faster to Clinton supporters.

Now Penn is at it again. Today, he has an editorial on Politico justifying John McCain’s attack ads. Penn’s point, that attack ads work, is accurate (and rather obvious) but whose side is this guy on? Aren’t Clinton’s people supposed to be going after McCain, not praising the Republican nominee’s strategy?

I’m not actively rooting for or against Obama at this point. So, to me, Penn’s antics are just good political theater and a reminder that the Democrats still have a sloppy, feckless quality about them, despite their recent organizational and messaging improvements.

But I know McCain must be loving this. A contentious Democratic convention would make what’s sure to be a deathly boring Republican convention seem welcome.

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