Update 8:20 AM: Why Hillary's Hospital Story Matters. See at foot.
Joe Scarborough and David Shuster came not to praise Penn but to bury him . . .
Chatting on today's Morning Joe, the host and the MSNBC political correspondent agreed that the mistake in firing the chief Clinton campaign strategist was that it didn't come nearly soon enough.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: For the Clintons, not a good weekend. Mark Penn, bounced out, my question is why now? They should have done it a long time ago. Good news, bad news?
DAVID SHUSTER: Well I think it's too little, too late. I mean I think you're absolutely right. The only reason he was hanging in this long was because he had the support of Hillary Clinton [Ed.: pretty big reason]. I mean, a lot of people in the Clinton campaign were infuriated. You remember, Joe and Mika, a month ago, after a couple primary losses, when it was Mark Penn who said "oh, I wasn't in charge of Hillary's campaign," which just infuriated [Ed.: that's two "infuriateds" -- some angry people over there] who were working with the campaign, who knew his crucial role.
I mean it was Mark Penn who made the case and sold it that Hillary Clinton should run as the de facto incumbent, and that proved to be a disaster, because of course that left the territory wide open to Barack Obama to claim the mantle of change in a change election. And of course when you think about all the various slogans, and campaign themes, and constantly changing message, I mean that was Mark Penn's doing, and I think you're absolutely right: this is something that might have helped Hillary Clinton a month ago. I don't think it makes any difference today.
SCARBOROUGH: Too little too late.
I haven't heard anyone in the punditocracy utter a peep in defense of Penn. The consultant's stock is at an absolute bottom, somewhere below Bear Stearns and Bob Shrum's. This could be a buying opportunity for some third-tier candidate somewhere, willing to take a flyer . . .
Oh, and note that, while demoted, Penn will continue to provide polling and other services to the campaign. Guess Hillary would rather have Penn inside the tent micturating out, than outside . . . .
Update 8:20 AM: Why Hillary's Hospital Story Matters
My two cents on the phony Hillary hospital story. It's not just that she's been caught telling another whopper. It's her excuse that really hurts her. She claims that she was passing along a story that had been told her by a deputy sheriff.
Oh, so Hillary made a mistake by relying on . . . false intelligence? Hmm, doesn't that undercut one of the main themes of her campaign? Isn't this The Woman Ready From Day One, who wouldn't make the same mistakes W allegedly did and that hoodwinked her into voting for the Iraq war?