The Corner

Mark Penn, Super Genius

There’s been a lot of talk about how Hillary Clinton is irreversibly down in the delegate count because she did a terrible job of organizing in caucus states and otherwise having a coherent delegate strategy. Well, this article in Time goes a long way toward explaining why her campaign couldn’t get its act together. As it turns out, Mark Penn — her chief campaign strategist — is an ignoramus:

Clinton picked people for her team primarily for their loyalty to her, instead of their mastery of the game. That became abundantly clear in a strategy session last year, according to two people who were there. As aides looked over the campaign calendar, chief strategist Mark Penn confidently predicted that an early win in California would put her over the top because she would pick up all the state’s 370 delegates. It sounded smart, but as every high school civics student now knows, Penn was wrong: Democrats, unlike the Republicans, apportion their delegates according to vote totals, rather than allowing any state to award them winner-take-all. Sitting nearby, veteran Democratic insider Harold M. Ickes, who had helped write those rules, was horrified — and let Penn know it. “How can it possibly be,” Ickes asked, “that the much vaunted chief strategist doesn’t understand proportional allocation?” And yet the strategy remained the same, with the campaign making its bet on big-state victories.

It’s also notable that when embarassing recriminations like this start making their way to the press, it’s pretty much the surest sign your campaign is over.

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