I think Noam will have more to say on the Stump about Mark Penn's characteristically unpersuasive conference call earlier today. But I had two quick thoughts, drawing on TPM's description of the call (which I was not on myself). Here's TPM:
On a conference call with reporters just now, Hillary pollster Mark Penn sought to make the case for her electability by dredging up bad memories of the GOP and right-wing media's successful efforts to redefine Al Gore and John Kerry, arguing that Hillary wouldn't succumb to such tactics.
The "GOP attack machine," Penn suggested, "skewed the perceptions of such distinguished public servants as Al Gore and John Kerry" in a way that left perceptions of them "out of touch with reality."
Penn said that Hillary has "withstood" this process, while Obama would find that his independent support "would evaporate relatively quickly once he faced the Republicans." ... Penn's implicit goal here seems to be to make Democrats worry -- without saying so outright -- that Obama will prove too weak to fight back effectively against the GOP slime machine, just as Kerry and Gore did.
First, as I've argued before, the particular way the GOP defined Kerry and Gore was as book-smart but inauthentic, politicians who didn't know who they really were and constantly refashioned themselves based on what polls told them voters wanted. Perhaps it's just me, but the Democratic contender I see as all-too-susceptible to this kind of attack is not Barack Obama.
Second, does the Clinton campaign really want, even by implication, to be dissing Al Gore right now?