Okay, this time I've actually read Ari's article -- it's a great execution of an article about Mark Penn's evident conflicts of interests and ties to corporate malefactors. It's a genuinely bizarre situation, right down to the fact that Penn isn't even on leave from his job as Worldwide President & CEO of Burson Marsteller. It's one thing to be recruiting people from the corporate world, but Penn is right now both advising Clinton and the CEO of a firm being bad vast sums of money to do PR for all kinds of corporations.

What Ari doesn't get into is whether, all that notwithstanding, Penn is just such a brilliant pollster that we should all be thrilled to have someone of his stature working for a leading Democrat. I would say "no." It doesn't take much of a genius to reach the conclusion that ceteris paribus candidates from left-of-center political parties can become more popular by being less left-wing, and Penn seems to have no particular sense of when this might be a bad idea. He also seems unusually averse to "big ideas" and ambition even for a pollster, which is saying something.

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