GQ star Lisa DePaulo has a postmortem Q&A out today with the much-maligned Mark Penn. Couple of things struck me:
Most notably, the entire exchange comes across as remarkably self-justifying and self-aggrandizing, even for the genre--and even for Penn. For all the words spoken and ground covered, Penn's analysis still boils down to: It wasn't my fault. And if all you idiots had let me run things my way, we wouldn't be in this mess.
Case in point: When pressed about his biggest regret, Penn whines that he didn't have a crack team like he had in 1996. "I wish in reality that I had a team of people, you know, who was with me, that I organized, as I had in '96." (Now, some might point out that the '96 team and strategy were principally put together by evil genius Dick Morris, who didn't get ousted for his toe-sucking tendencies until a couple of months before the fall election. But why nitpick?) More specifically, Penn lays the blame for the campaign's failure at the feet of both Patti Solis Doyle and Harold Ickes, primarily for their mishandling of money.
This is not a new self-defense tactic by Penn--which is also what struck me about the piece. In a perhaps understandably sympathetic intro, DePaulo notes that, despite all the beatings he took during this race, "Penn never once defended himself, even as the Blame Penn chorus grew louder."
Um. Unless you count that period in early March, not long after Patti Solis Doyle was kicked to the curb, when Penn, nervous about growing grumbling concerning his own performance, ran around throwing Solis Doyle, Mike Henry, and Ickes under the proverbial bus--a display of such rank ass-covering, incidentally, that it finished shredding the campaign's once united front as outraged colleagues rushed to the defense of those maligned by Penn. (Again, can't insert link to classic LAT piece. Apologies.) Mark Penn has been many things in this race, selflessly stoic is not one of them. The man has yet to meet a piece of blame he couldn't hurl in someone else's direction.
That said, I highly recommend giving the piece a read, if for no other reason than to confirm all of your preexisting biases about what a spectacular egomaniac Penn is.