Hillary Clinton's former spinmaster-in-chief is now trying to spin his way out of his new designation by the media: Loser.
This is made all the more interesting because Mark Penn is the worldwide CEO of Burson-Marsteller. If anyone should know how to rehabilitate himself, it should be this PR kingpin.
But alas, the spin is not very good and will be demolished in the punditocracy.
Penn is falling back on the classic excuse for losing a national presidential campaign: It wasn't the message, he writes in an op-ed piece for The New York Times, it was the money.
While everyone loves to talk about the message, campaigns are equally about money and organization. Having raised more than $100 million in 2007, the Clinton campaign found itself without adequate money at the beginning of 2008, and without organizations in a lot of states as a result. Given her successes in high-turnout primary elections and defeats in low-turnout caucuses, that simple fact may just have had a lot more to do with who won than anyone imagines.
Sounds good until you consider that Clinton won key states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Indiana---states where she was outspent by Obama by 2 to 1.
Penn may want to try another line of reasoning. There are many of them:.
Clinton lost because voters want someone with a last name other than Bush and Clinton in the White House.
Clinton lost because her husband kept having temper tantrums, distracting the media from her message.
Clinton lost because voters were fed up with her thinly disguised references to race.
The problem with all of the above is that it doesn't serve Penn's purposes; namely, to reclaim his place in the political world as Grand Political Visionary and Maker of the Message.