self-parody watch

Mark Penn Column: Satan Is A Cool Guy, Once You Get To Know Him

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A day after the Atlantic released tons of confidential memos and e-mails that, yet again, proved Hillary Clinton’s former chief strategist Mark “Bowser” Penn kills puppies for bloodsport, the Politico has comically published an op-ed from this very same Mark Penn, entitled, “Negative ads: They really do work.” Christ, Mark, we get it; Wolfson and Grunwald and Ickes were silly sallies who kept spoiling your hellish strategy for charred victory. But that doesn’t mean you have to write some creepy op-ed in the damn Politico every three hours! Seriously, creepy — in this op-ed, Penn reveals how he and Bill Clinton used to stalk people at the mall in 1996.

You have to be some kinda rare strain of asshole to brag about how you invented research once:

In 1996, my colleagues and I designed a new kind of research for President Bill Clinton’s reelection bid, in which voters were shown campaign ads in public places like shopping malls. The same voters were then interviewed privately, in an atmosphere where they let their hair down and spoke candidly. Not surprisingly, voters admitted that negative ads sway their ballot box choices.

Oh, so that was Mark Penn’s New Research: he took Bill to the mall, showed folks disturbing images and then took them into a private atmosphere where they would “let their hair down.” All subjects said that they would vote for Bill Clinton, certainly, after just having seen the disturbing images of Bob Dole’s flaccid member that some fat pollster had posted all over the mall.

Here’s a rather amazing paragraph:

Some negative ads crystallize voters’ opinions without presenting any new information. That’s what was behind John McCain’s recent ad equating Barack Obama’s celebrity status with that of Paris Hilton — that viewers would associate the Democrat’s leadership with mere celebrity, not substance. Fair or not, as advertising it did its job: It used humor, stuck viewers with memorable images and created a debate, just as Lyndon Johnson’s 1964 “Daisy” ad, Walter Mondale’s “Red Phone” spot 20 years later and Hillary Rodham Clinton’s “3 a.m.” commercial in 2008 did.

Now who was it that came up with that Clinton “3 a.m.” ad? Oh that’s right, it was Mark Penn, the writer of this column, who designed that ad — which is apparently one of the three most important political ads in history! And yes, it was effective in how it “used humor.” Nothing’s funnier than an ad about your small children getting raped and shot by terrorists in the middle of the night, except maybe an ad showing a little girl picking flowers until she’s randomly nuked during the height of the Cold War.

Negative ads: They really do work [Politico]

About the author

Jim Newell is Wonkette's beloved Capitol Hill Typing Demon. He joined in 2007, left for some other dumb job in 2010, and proudly returned in 2012 as our "Senior Editor at Large." He lives in Washington and also writes for things such as The Guardian, the Manchester paper of liberals.

View all articles by Jim Newell


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  • loquaciousmusic

    There’s a Prefab Sprout song in there somewhere. I just can’t think of which one.

  • TGY

    Campaign advice from a loser. Cool.

  • AngryBlakGuy

    …the difference between WALNUTS! AD depicting Paris And Britney and the daisy girl AD, is the fact that the daisy girl didn’t make a follow up AD with her skewering Lyndon Johnson for being an out of touch old fart!

  • Doglessliberal

    Mark apparently thinks he invented bullshit, too.

  • Vewol Mevemont

    Uh, maybe using Mondale’s campaign as a model wasn’t the best idea.

  • graceless

    Bill Clinton doesn’t personally stalk people, he has them stalked!

  • Jim Newell

    [re=57442]AngryBlakGuy[/re]: Ha! That’s because the daisy girl had been nuked and was dead.

    McCain & Penn should team up to create the greatest political ad ever: Paris Hilton and Britney Spears are drunk and picking daisies in swimsuits at 3 a.m. when, suddenly, they are nuked. The phone rings in the White House and no one answers because “The One” was on VACATION, in the FAKE STATE of HAWAII.

  • Gopherit v2.0

    Wow. When Satan was finished making Rove in his Workshop, he swept up all of the rubbish, scraps, and factory seconds and made Penn.

  • Serolf Divad

    How the hell did they swing this in a mall? I remember back at the height of the anti-Iraq war protest micro-craze (which feels like it happened way back in the 60s now) people were getting arrested for wearing anti-war T-shirts in malls. I thought you were only allowed to buy shoes, trade in your old video-games for $1.00 (then watch the store put it back up on the shelves for $.50 less than the original sale price) and eat cinnamon rolls with 30 grams of fat in them at malls.

  • magic titty

    I can’t believe that toad referenced the campaign of Walter Mondale. Well, keep on truckin’, Mark Penn.
    I might have to author The Audacity of Fuck Off this afternoon, in response. Anyone want to write the foreword?

  • jagorev

    Yeah, who can forget the landslide victories achieved by Walter Mondale and Hillary Clinton, right?

    No, seriously, what the fuck?

  • loquaciousmusic

    [re=57437]loquaciousmusic[/re]: Got it: “When Love Breaks Down,” Mark Penn’s love song to Hillary:

    My love and I, we work well together
    But often we’re apart
    Absence makes the heart lose weight, yeah,
    ‘Till love breaks down, love breaks down…

    Oh my, oh my, have you seen the weather?
    The sweet September rain
    Rain on me like no other
    Until I drown, until I drown

    When love breaks down
    The things you do
    To stop the truth from hurting you
    When love breaks down
    The lies we tell,
    They only serve to fool ourselves…
    When love breaks down
    The things you do
    To stop the truth from hurting you

    When love breaks down
    The things you do
    To stop the truth from hurting you
    When love breaks down,
    Love breaks down…

  • V572625694

    Yeah, the Mondale and Hilz ads were terrifically effective except for one little thing: both candidates lost, Mondale by a humiliating landslide, Hillary by the width of a ceiling crack. And helping Bill beat Dole isn’t a towering achievement either.

  • AngryBlakGuy

    …frankly I’m surprised that anyone would stop to talk to Mark Penn. He looks like the prototypical sloppy child molester child molester. He’s the kind of guy who’s neighbors always say things like “he was so quite” or “he was always going and coming at weird times”.

  • rev_matt_y

    Wait a second, isn’t this guy another one of those “never won a campaign” advisors that somehow keeps getting hired in spite of their demonstrated total incompetence? Oh, no, he was on the 96 campaign. So he gets credit for signing onto a sure thing.

  • AngryBlakGuy

    [re=57450]Jim Newell[/re]: …you left out the part where 200,000 Germans chant Obama’s name, while America burns under a radioactive mushroom cloud.

  • Godot

    Your comparison of Mark Penn to Bowser is completely unfair.

    What did Bowser ever do to deserve this?

  • Voted for Mondale

    He has to write these things – it’s all he has to do these days now that he personally drove the Titanic directly into the fucking iceberg and had the absolutely awful taste not to go down with the ship… maybe he could get a job with the Edwards ’12 Campaign…

  • Hart88

    I worked for the Hart campaign (part deux) twenty years ago, still waiting for it to pay off. Penn gives me hope.

  • CollegeStudent

    Maybe the Nationals need to recruit Mark Penn.
    Baseball is the only place where succeeding one out of every three time is good.
    According to Penn, negative ads are hitting like .333 lifetime.
    Let’s see Ryan Zimmerman do that.

  • The Incomparable Tiny Valdez

    It’s like what they say about co-dependents in a dark room. Put a towering monument to bile-spewing douchebaggery in there, and the Clintons will find it.

  • irisheyes

    [re=57450]Jim Newell[/re]: And they’d be raped by Willie Horton- you can’t forget Willie!

  • WhatTheHeck

    Of course Mark is a total jerk. Because he knows the recipients of his foul messages
    are easily manipulated morans.

    Its just like when Wonkette throws out a sexytime blog and we take the bait.

  • graceless

    Great Bowser pic!

  • thefrontpage

    Where’s today’s pictures of the U.S. women’s beach volleyball team, and Barbara Bush?

  • Botswana Meat Commission FC

    Not only is Mark Penn considered the jackassiest political consultant ever, he’s also probably the marketing consultant most widely quoted by douchey marketing/media types. Bowser needs a fireball to the head.

  • SayItWithWookies

    So did Hillary ever stop and wonder whether taking a page out of Karl Rove’s playbook was a smart thing to do, or did she just figure the campaign was going to get dirty anyway, so she may as well just dive in? This inability to understand that after eight years of Bush there might be more important things to run on than smearing your opponent is sort of a critical flaw, I’d guess.

  • Street Organizer

    [re=57461]AngryBlakGuy[/re]: Mark Penn looks like he eats boogers, smells like dirty clothes and has a bad case of arm pit psoriasis.

  • Miller

    If you walked into Penn’s office and punched the first person you saw, they’d probably deserve it. Running scummy ads is not a virtue.

  • lumpenprole

    I’m pleased that Hillary owes this doofus lots of money.

  • obfuscator

    Bill and Penn at the mall? Jesus, that just reeks of sad. I’m tortured by the image of Bill trying to bang the chubby 22 year old assistant manager at Ruby Tuesday’s while Penn sits on a bench at center court next to the glass elevator, wiping donut grease on the front of his Members Only jacket.

  • LittlePig

    I wish the Obama camp would bring back the corollary to the “Daisy” ad (shown only once – how scary is that?) with Gramps McCain as the target instead of St. Barry Goldwater.

    “In your heart, you know he might…”

  • 4tehlulz

    So this means that the ultimate campaign commercial would be a 3 am phone call to the president warning of a nuclear attack, then showing Willie Horton raping a girl in a daisy field being obliterated by an H-bomb, then showing some white guy in Russia crumpling a piece of paper because an affirmative action hire got the job starting World War III?

  • norbizness

    I’m looking forward to his next editorial, “WHERE’S MY $6.7 MILLION? I’M FUCKING HUNGRY!”

  • capitol-hillbilly

    what about the 3 a.m. call to the plumber after mark penn has clogged your toilet?