Look Closer

It sure sounds real: Mark Penn got thrown under the bus, kicked off the Clinton campaign, dumped. But it isn't true.

After longtime advisers including Harold Ickes — as well as American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees head Gerald McEntee — urged Hillary Clinton to dump Penn over the weekend, she followed suit. But as with many things Clintonian, you usually have to look twice. Penn is on conference calls with top advisers and strategists, he continues to advise the Clintons and he will be helping her with preparations for the upcoming Pennsylvania debate on April 16.

Penn is the genius who discounted the importance of the early states but stressed the importance of Clinton as inevitable, invincible and all-knowing. She wasn't any of those three, but she is loyal. Penn has served the Clintons well for more than 12 years and no matter what his mistakes, she stuck by him — even after those brutal comments he gave The Los Angeles Times recently, when he divorced himself of any responsibility or authority in the campaign.

No matter that the Penn role in lobbying for a Colombian trade deal threatened her very political existence — so dependent as it is upon winning union support by a large enough margin to fuel a comeback. Clinton knows her continued association with Penn is a liability. But she thinks her voters won't find out about it.

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