One of the fun things about writing a controversial piece like the one we posted yesterday on the collapse of the Clinton campaign is the ensuing flurry of ungrounded pronouncements about this or that major character. If you watch cable or read liberal blogs, you’ve no doubt gotten the impression that former Clinton chief strategist Mark Penn is finished in politics, owing largely to this memo suggesting that Clinton target what he calls Obama’s “lack of American roots.” Not only do I suspect these commentators are jumping to premature conclusions, but one obvious scenario could bring Penn back rather quickly—and right into the middle of Obama’s campaign.
For years, Penn and his wife, Nancy Jacobson, have been close advisers to Indiana Senator Evan Bayh. Jacobson put together Bayh’s finance team during his aborted presidential bid, and previously served as national finance chair for the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC). Penn was the DLC’s longtime pollster and worked for Bayh during his last Senate race. The couple has also been associated with Third Way, the centrist think tank Bayh helped organize in 2005 that many in Washington viewed as a vehicle for his presidential run (the DLC obviously belonging to Clinton).