Bitterroot, Or How We Came To Discuss Charlie Black And Mark Penn

Moe's off having a coughing fit and "enjoying" the side effects of DayQuil, so it's up to me to introduce you to one of John McCain's top advisors Charlie Black, aka, The Man Who Can't Be Fired. God, I want to be this guy, and not just because I keep getting fired. He can fuck up, he can have a negative story published about him every week and McCain will keep him around because... well, we're not really sure why, actually. But check in with Utah's liquor laws, my hatred for cover charges, Catholicism, Brutus, the 'burbs, Hillary, Chelsea, Barack and the Old Guy (you know, the regular crowd) and everyone's favorite guy to hate on, Mark Penn. It's all after the jump, people. Click through so Moe can afford her DayQuil tomorrow.

MOE: Um it's about to get a lot easier to get as drunk as I unintentionally did last night in Utah.

Happy birthday Spencer!

MEGAN: Oh, yes, happy (belated) birthday Spencer!

That "private club" thing is such bullshit, it just means that every single bar charges you cover, including fucking hotel bars, but if you go into a restaurant and order food, you can get hooch. And I know this/hate this because I went to SLC on a business trip once and stayed in the Mormon hotel (no booze) and my co-worker and I wandered the streets of SLC desperately seeking alcohol but too cheap to pay cover until we figured out the restaurant thing. So, hooray Utah! I might come back.

Didja see the interview with Mark Penn, speaking of needing alcohol?

MOE: I never got the point past where the writer stopped arguing with Penn about whether he was allowed to ask him about the campaign. What happens next?

Robert Byrd is in the hospital by the way. He is also ninety. Is he a superdelegate?

MEGAN: He is a superdelegate, and he endorsed Obama.

Mark Penn thinks I'm a "small petite" and a "tech fatale" because I like gadgets and I'm not ashamed of being short. I hate Mark Penn more than I did before I read the article, and that's saying something.

The Penn philosophy of both politics and marketing involves identifying such groups through polling, then micro-targeting them with messages crafted precisely to their unique concerns. It's not pandering, he insists: it's an expression of faith in voters as smart and rational creatures who vote according to self-interest, not airy intangibles or well-packaged personalities. "They're not really voting for people on the basis of the colour of their tie," he says. "They're voting for people on the basis of [what it] means for them and their families at the time."

Oh, also, us "elites" are stupid and it's the working class people who are getting increasing rational:

I'm pretty sure I'm being filed away as a member of the "impressionable elites", a microtrend Penn identifies whereby working-class voters get ever more adept at making rational choices based on data, while only the more privileged - people who aren't "living through the difficulties with healthcare, and the economy, and the mortgage, and the job loss" - can afford to indulge in frivolous chatter about hope and change.

MOE:

And thus it was, Penn's critics argue, that for too long Hillary's campaign was a muddle of small, contradictory, cautious messages, when what the moment required was passion, inspiration, and a promise of change.

I didn't know he ran Clinton's 1996 campaign.

MEGAN: Yup, that's one of the reasons Hillary refused to ditch him

MOE: so where are the primaries today? besides south dakota?

MEGAN: I think maybe Ezra Klein doesn't like Penn either (I'm only adding this in because I actually busted out laughing when I read it)

"Microtrends is so bad that the question ... isn't whether it will destroy [Penn's] own reputation, but whether it is so epically awful as to take the entire polling industry down with it."

Montana. Big Sky State.

Don't let's make fun of me for knowing that.

MOE: I did a fourth grade report on Montana and even I don't know that. Also, did it ever occur to you that all these fucking states have to figure out a state flower? Unless they don't and that just happened to be what some of them did. Either way, I don't remember Montana's state flower. And I will say this of "microtrends": if we think our politicians are bad, look at our snack foods? I can't find where Ezra said that. Although I do appreciate the tag line "Momma said wonk you out." Ah, the young opinionated liberal DC blogger population and its hip-hop fluency. It's almost like they all went to camp together?

MEGAN: Google says Montana's state flower is...

wait for it

The bitterroot.

MOE: Sounds like our psychographic! It's the new "delicate flower."

MEGAN: Also, if they all went to camp together, this explains how I'm the odd kid out. I didn't even go to violin camp. I volunteered at the library most summers because I could bike or walk there and it was free and my parents couldn't really have afforded camp even if I was outdoorsy and wanted to go.

MOE: I was not outdoorsy really. I actually just should have lived in a city. So many kids are miserable growing up in the suburbs. I think it's what makes this country great.

MEGAN: It just always weirds me out, I didn't feel like the only person who hated/complained about Scotia, only 13 years later, I'm definitely in a small minority of people who don't live in the area.

So, like, if everyone hates growing up in the 'burbs, why does everyone insist on raising their kids there?

MOE: To teach them misery

MEGAN: Oh, well, then that makes sense! Also, remember the whole thing about Congress fucking up the Farm Bill? Turns out, it's Newt Gingrich's fault

MOE: Dude: "He's just a dishonest guy, he can't help it."Said Bill Clinton re the writer of the Vanity Fair piece. Followed directly by:

"The editor of Esquire— he sent us an email yesterday and said it was the single sleaziest piece of journalism he'd seen in decades. He said it made him want to go take a shower and he was embarrassed to be a journalist when he read it."

Um, David Granger? If you were thinking about cooking up yet another "how Bill fucked Hillary" expose, can I suggest that certain of your psychographics might be fatigued by this topic? But if the former president is lying, well, I suppose he can't help it.

MEGAN: I mean, really? He's got to accuse the writer of lying? Why not accuse all the anonymous sources? Why not pull an Et tu, Brute rather than laying it at the feet of the writer?

MEGAN: Heck, I was talking about this last night. You want to know what you do? You don't directly attack the guy. You say, with deep disappointment on your face and in your voice, gosh, you know, it's so hard when the people you trusted sell you out and spread rumors and innuendo about you. It's just heartbreaking that people I have loved would do that to me, but that's the nature of politics today, everyone looking to be their own boldfaced name. It's only slightly more heartbreaking than when his wife, Dee Dee, you remember, my former press secretary? It's only slightly more disappointing to us then when she refused to endorse my wife. Anyway, it's just so sad.

And then you shut up and everyone thinks he's a dick and that it's political and the stories stop.

MOE: See, I love how we play press secretary with these people. Btw I'm just being reminded that yesterday Balk blamed Clinton's assholery this election around on beta blockers. (So did Purdum, though I don't think that came till the sixth or seventh page.) Unrelated Catholics who support Obama are having a tough time getting served Communion in your town. I bet I know one priest who would be up for fixing that. Which brings me to: Obama quitting Trinity. Why? Now? That was a stupid thing to do and I didn't really say so yesterday.

MEGAN: I mean, they're probably sick of being mocked and threatened, he's sick of being asked about it, it's probably a pretty mutual break up.

Also, on the Catholic thing, I think that it sucks but that's the price you pay for being a Catholic who disagrees when you get a Pope who intends to bring us wayward thinking-we-can-disagree American sheep back into the fold of blind-following.

MOE: I used to not receive communion just because i was lazy. then i started having sex and getting it every time.

MEGAN: I stopped taking Communion when I quit the Church. My mom is really embarrassed when I accompany her to Church on Christmas and I'm like, you're more embarrassed that I'm showing respect for your religion and its rules than by me disrespecting the institution? Not that logical arguments have ever gotten me anywhere with my mom, but I keep trying.

MOE: I'm adding a new brand of McCain scandalette to "says idiotic and inaccurate but predictably hawkish thing about war" and "parts ways with adviser who is also shill for the interests of evil so as not to look like a hypocrite" and that is "says something idiotic but predictably hawkish that completely refutes something he said six months ago so as to look like a hypocrite all by himself"

MEGAN: I assume that you're talking about Charlie Black lobbying for Iran? Ah, the sweet smell of hypocrisy in the morning. That guy is just fucking McCain all over the place on his "I'm not close to lobbyists, I swear," there's like one awesome story a week about some other shady concern he represented! Atta boy, Charlie! Keep at it!

MOE: Chuck Shumer thinks we need to stop so openly mocking Russia's plans to restore regional hegemony and get them to impose trade sanctions upon Iran with us. The Iranian regime will topple! They've got that "growing" middle class!

MEGAN: Please, Iran has oil and Russian expat scientists, right? Russia's not gonna dance with us on this one, Chuck, but good luck with that!

MOE: And re McCain I was just talking about…I guess there was the Burma pair, the Dougs Goodyear and Davenport, and then the guy who quit because he represented energy companies, and the guy who shilled for Saudi Arabia, and then, wait, I didn't notice this one:

Craig Shirley was forced to quit when he was found to be behind an independent group attacking senators Clinton and Obama on the internet.

MEGAN: Well, the attacking Clinton and Obama wasn't the problem, it was shilling for the group which is a 527, and McCain hates 527s because his campaign finance law was supposed to get issue groups, like, out of campaigns but didn't. But, yes, the rest of that shit is kind of hilare.

MOE: Oh Good lord, good lord:

The group maintains a website that ran animated parodies of Clinton, and now parodies Obama, recently imagining a visit by Rev. Jeremiah Wright to the Obama White House. Shirley's work was to promote the website and spread the word about its other promotional activities, including airplanes trailing "Stop Her Now" banners over Democratic presidential debates.

One recent anti-Obama cartoon features an Oval Office exchange between President Obama and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, whom Obama summons as his "spiritual advisor."

"How may I serve you my brother?" asks the animated Wright.

"Is love black and white?" asks the fictional Obama.

"No - it is black," shrieks Wright.

"Really?" asks Obama.

"Goddam right," the minister replies.

"That's what I'd thought you'd say," says a reassured Obama.

MEGAN: Yeah, I mean, I'm not defending the 527, but it's not even that shit that got Shirley fired even though one might hope that it would be.

MOE: Well there was that other dude who got fired, the one whose facebook account we posted. Remember, the guy who got fired over something on his TWITTER?

MEGAN: OH, he was pimping some YouTube mashup thing about Wright, yeah, I vaguely remember that. It made McCain look bad and he wasn't Charlie Black, so he was out!

MOE: So what do we think? Is he going to pull through tonight? Is she going to fold?

MEGAN: Well, everyone this morning was looking at her plans to speak in NYC tonight despite probably winning in South Dakota, and the fact that she's invited all her major donors and supporters there and asked that staff turn in all outstanding expense reports by the end of the week as her planning a concession, but there's been a wave of Hillary surrogates on TV denying it this morning, saying she's just putting together a superdelegate phone back or something.

But given the likely margins tonight, Obama will only need like 25 superdelegates to endorse today and he already had Congressman Clyburn (D-SC) on the Today show this morning, so...

MOE: It's one of those things where you just know Mandy and Maggie and Harold and Bill and everyone has totally been at one another's throats fighting over whether she should concede or stay in, and it's going to take Chelsea to say, "Why don't we ask what my mom wants?"

Anyway, all the deep-seated racism and misogyny revealed by this campaign has made poor Richard Cohen depressed. Which is so typical of Washington. Like, really? This campaign made you depressed? Have you ever covered crime? Or even like watched The Wire? What about reality TV?

MEGAN: Dude, he was on Morning Joe this morning talking about this and Pat Buchanan was all "Well, white people look at black people voting for Obama because he's one of theirs, so it's just white people voting for one of ours" and I almost swallowed my tongue.

I was incoherent with rage. It was like, Pat Buchanan just said black people shouldn't've voted for Obama if they didn't want white people to vote for Clinton.