In this week’s New Republic, “Hillaryland” (subscription required), Ryan Lizza’s fascinating outline of the political empire Hillary has assembled, with a set of different power centers, and a mass of often-in-conflict and sometimes-in-the-dark advisors. No mention of Viscious Sid’s current or future role. The key advisor as 2006 opens is Mark Penn:
Penn has been the messaging mastermind of Hillaryland. His stubborn centrism, arrived at by sifting through tons of granular-level psychographic polling–that is, psychological and demographic–has long angered liberals, and it is likely be the greatest source of future tension in Hillaryland. “We kind of know what Mark is going to say in every situation,” says one top adviser to his left. But there is little doubt that Hillary is a true devotee of Penn–who is also a Tony Blair adviser and partisan of the transatlantic Third Way project–and his middle-of-the-road style of politics.
Penn’s centrality to her political organization explains a lot about the political lessons Hillary has learned and the path she sees to the White House. Even as Hillary has rejected many Clintonites and the organizational style of their regime, she hasn’t rejected Clintonism. As her memoir makes clear, more than impeachment, the defining political moment in her life was the 1994 GOP takeover of the House, which devastated her. She was the one who brought Morris and Penn into the White House after that cataclysmic event, not her husband. She even defends Clinton’s much-maligned strategy of triangulation. “More than old-fashioned political compromise of splitting the difference,” she writes in her memoir, “triangulation reflected the approach Bill had promised to bring to Washington.” There was never any doubt that, after helping her husband win reelection and evolving into the most influential Clinton adviser of the second term, Penn would work for Hillary.
And in the Weekly Standard, Stephen Hayes continues to press down on what the documentary trail from Saddam’s Iraq shows us, and Reuel Marc Gerecht has a crucial piece on the aftermath of the cartoons war and why rapid democratic evolution is the only hope for the Muslim world. His last graph:
Like Christendom before it, the Muslim Middle East will have to work out its relation to modernity. The faster democracy arrives, the sooner the debates about God and man can begin in earnest. It will probably be for both Muslims and Westerners a nerve-racking experience. But we have no choice, since continuing autocracy will only make the militants’ message stronger and judgment day, as in Iran, a possibly bloody revolutionary event. The electoral victory of Hamas should not give us pause. It should give us hope and encourage us to push for real elections where our national interest stands to gain the most–in Egypt and Iran. We should also not neglect to defend vigorously Christian, Muslim, or Jewish satirists, be they clever, banal, or ugly, wherever they may be found. Both elections and satire are basic to the evolution of the Muslim world.