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Does It Matter Who Hillary's Chief Strategist Is?

Their personal distaste for Penn aside, the giddiness of some Clinton aides over Penn's ouster is a little bewildering. Take this from Jason Horowitz's well-reported New York Observer piece

“This opens up a vacuum in the campaign that will be filled with people who I think have a vision for what the campaign needs to be doing and where it needs to be going right now,” said another staffer. “People who realize that the strength-and-experience box, while an important one, has been checked, and that it’s also important for voters to know what motivates Senator Clinton.” ...

[Another] staffer said that of the multiple economic round tables in which Mrs. Clinton had participated in Pennsylvania in recent weeks, the ones in which she was surrounded by economics professors and other experts were arranged by Mr. Penn to show off her experience and fluency with complicated policy issues. Mr. Wolfson and company had pushed for the ones in which she shared the table with “regular people” talking about their economic woes.

It's hard to believe it really matters who Clinton's chief strategist is at this point. The strategic dice were cast a long time ago, and whether Hillary appears on a panel with college professors or regular people isn't going to have more than a marginal effect on her chances of winning the nomination. Her only real hope is an Obama meltdown, and the odds of that are basically unaffected by Penn's presence.

The people who should be pleased, I think, are Obama's aides. He was likely to win the nomination either way, but replacing Penn, who favored tough negative attacks, with Geoff Garin, who apparently favors a positive approach, could mean a lot for Obama's general election chances.

--Noam Scheiber