Monday, July 03, 2006

Arianna: "Brainstorming in Aspen"

From The Huffington Post:
Then came the post-panel Q & A, during which I asked Mark Penn whether Hillary Clinton's cosponsoring a bill criminalizing flag desecration was also the product not of polling but of her deeply held convictions.

Without batting an eye, Penn said: "You guys want to make believe that you know better what her beliefs are than she does. This is her belief. This has been her belief for a long time. She's been listening to veterans in New York, and that's what she believes." After catching his breath he added: "And you know what? She doesn't care what you think!"

"Well, if she doesn't care what we in the blogosphere think," I said, "why did she hire Peter Daou to build bridges to us?"

That one went unanswered.

Afterward I asked David Gergen about Mellman's and Penn's claims that their clients are not swayed by polling data. "Of course they are," he said. "All you have do is follow the money and see the exorbitant amounts both parties spend on polling. It's not easy to track, because it's often hidden in RNC and DNC expenditures, so it's not always obvious just how much they're spending on polling, or just how much they rely on it. But clearly, they do."

Joe Klein agreed. "It's disingenuous," he told me, "for these guys to pretend that politicians don't react to the polls and focus groups." As for Hillary, Klein said she "is careful to the point of insanity on every word she utters. It is emblematic of the way modern politicians have lost faith not only in the public, but in themselves."

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