- American Presidential politics are at best a cynical
business. The outcome is typically determined, at least since the ill-fated
campaign of George McGovern in 1972, by major corporate lobbyists and
behind-the-scenes money interests who have little interest in national
issues other than their own. Now, with the sudden departure of Hillary
Clinton's main campaign strategist, Mark Penn, it is clear that the powerful
interests originally backing Clinton have decided to end the game with
- On the surface the issue was a discovered conflict of
interest between Penn and Hillary over Penn's outside consulting for the
government of Colombia on a policy which Hillary stated she opposed.
Penn had agreed to be hired as a high-price lobbyist by Colombia to help
secure Congressional passage of a bilateral US-Colombia free trade bill
that US unions claim would cost American workers hundreds of thousands
of jobs. Hillary desperately needed trade union support to win the primary
in Pennsylvania, and unions are strongly opposed to the US-Colombia trade
- Ex-Clinton adviser Mark Penn is master of 'polling
as a political weapon'
- The curious career of Mark Penn
- The figure of Mark Penn is revealing as to what the
machine of Hillary Clinton represents in terms of power politics. Penn
had been a political adviser of the Clintons since managing Bill Clinton's
1996 re-election fight. His firm ran the election polls that helped define
Clinton's campaign strategy, itself a cynical modern US electoral innovation,
updating with high tech means the motto, "tell the people what they
want to hear." Penn's polling firm, Penn, Schoen and Berland (PSB)
has been used by Britain's Tony Blair, Italy's Silvio Berlusconi, by Menachim
Begin in Israel and Senator Joe Lieberman to shape election strategy.
- PSB has played a pioneering role in the use of polling
operations, especially "exit polls," in facilitating various
US-backed "Color Revolutions" in Serbia and elsewhere. Its primary
mission is to shape the perception that the group installed into power
in a targeted country has broad popular support. The PSB group began work
in Serbia during the period when Mark Penn, was President Clinton's top
- James Carville, Penn's rumored replacement is
Bush adviser Mary Matalin: political incest?
- Manipulating exit polls
- The PSB website boasts that they, "have played critical
roles behind the scenes of the elections in Serbia and Zimbabwe, helping
the opposition parties craft strategies, messages and organize a credible
and effective campaign that has enabled them to weaken the dictator,
his political party, and eventually throw him out of power. The introduction
of cutting edge political and communications techniques is as well as
the advice of the best Western political consultants and image makers,
is as potent a weapon as the planes, bombs, and intelligence technology
used in such conflicts as the Persian Gulf War, Bosnia, Kosovo, and, most
recently Afghanistan." In short, PSB is at the cutting edge of the
modern politics of images.
- In 2004 it was PSB which ran the "exit polls"
in Venezuela asserting even as voting was still open, that their polls
showed "major defeat for Chavez." The opposite was the case
with Chavez winning an overwhelming 59%. Investigation revealed that Penn's
PSB had emailed and faxed their poll results to international media four
hours before polls were to close proclaiming, on the basis of the fraudulent
polls that Chavez had lost. That was in violation of Venezuelan election
law and was intended to rally international support behind a campaign
to declare Chavez guilty of vote fraud and organize a recall. It backfired
and PSB came under public fire as a result.
- Referring to Mark Penn, the influential Washington Post
once referred to him as "the most powerful man in Washington you've
never heard of." According to PSB's website, Penn helped elect 15
overseas Presidents in the Far East, Latin America, and Europe. Clients
include heads of state or opposition politicians in Greece, Turkey, Israel,
the Philippines, the Dominican Republic, Bermuda and Yugoslavia.
- About the "permanent establishment"
- Mark Penn is exemplary of what US political insiders
refer to as a person of the "permanent establishment," the shadowy
institutions and insiders behind the curtains who really determine critical
policy issues and shape the choices gullible voters then are given to
"democratically choose among."
- It has been referred to by strategists since the time
of Edward Bernays as the "illusion of choice." Penn is above
political party, serving the interests of what some call the permanent
establishment. As a case in point, he also is CEO of the influential
global public relations firm, Burson-Marsteller, which includes among
clients the largest US mortgage lender, Countrywide Financial and Blackwater
Inc. the Republican led mercenary security firm that has been accused
of repeated killings of innocent Iraqi civilians. Penn's firm was to make
sure the "image" of such clients remained positive to the US
- Political incest?
- More interesting is that "Democrat" Penn's
Burson-Marsteller Worldwide owns BKSH & Associates, a major political
lobbying firm run by Charles R. Black, Jr. counsellor to Republican Presidents.
Black now works full time for the campaign of Republican John McCain.
In other words, Black heads a firm whose boss is "Democrat"
Clinton top strategist, at the same time Black is Republican opponent
John McCain's top strategist.
- In turn, Penn's firm, Burson-Marsteller is owned by British
advertising and Public Relations giant, WPP Group which employs as lobbyists
a former Republican National Committee chairman, Ed Gillespie; a former
House of Representatives Republican leader, Robert S. Walker, top Republican
fundraiser, Wayne L. Berman and the former media adviser to George W.
Bush, Mark McKinnon.
- In the wake of the resignation of Mark Penn, reports
in Washington are that James Carville, former 1992 campaign adviser to
Bill Clinton, to Tony Blair and Israel's Ehud Barak, will assume the role
of campaign strategist. It is worth noting that Carville is also deep
in Washington plitical incest. While Carville was running the 1992 Clinton
strategy, Carville's fiancee, Mary Matalin was running the campaign strategy
of President George Herbert Walker Bush. As the old expression goes, US
politics at least, has indeed strange bedfellows.