MSNBC Hardball: Mark Penn says President Obama can draw upon lessons learned by Clinton [VIDEO]

Following the Democrats’ 2010 midterm election losses, Mark Penn spoke with Chris Matthews on Hardball about former President Bill Clinton’s big midterm losses and subsequent rebound. Can President Obama draw upon lessons learned by Clinton?

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The Huffington Post: Strategy Corner: Stopping the Republican Comeback (Déjà Vu All Over Again) by Mark Penn

Published January 20, 2010

Once again an initially popular Democratic president tries to pass healthcare reform, raise taxes on the wealthy and expand domestic spending. And once again the voters send a sharp signal that they want him to chart a more centrist course. As Yogi Berra said “It’s déjà vu all over again.”

President Clinton’s wakeup call came with the 1994 mid-term elections — Obama’s came a year earlier with yesterday’s special election in Massachusetts.

In response to the similar situation, President Clinton fundamentally changed everything — his team, his policies, and the overall direction and message of his administration. He moved to the center with a balanced budget, welfare reform, and policies that helped concerned moms raise their kids, leaving behind the divisive bitterness of his first two years. As a part of that new team then, I saw how President Clinton consciously took his presidency back to the centrist message of his presidential campaign and relentlessly pursued swing voters; he didn’t go small, he went to the vital center — 24 million jobs and a balanced budget were big accomplishments.

President Obama now has plenty of time to turn this around before facing the kind of losses President Clinton did. But stopping the Republican machine now will not be done on the basis of words alone — it will take actions and results to calm this electorate.

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Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column: The Unemployment Cushion by Mark Penn

Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column
From The Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column
Published November 18, 2009

Unemployment has hit double digits in the U.S., and in some areas of the industrial Midwest, it is approaching 16%. Joblessness in many parts of this country is destructive beyond belief. The Federal Reserve Chairman said he sees little prospect of immediate relief.

And yet, in other areas it is not nearly as bad as it could have been. One reason is that bringing home a paycheck, especially in upper-income households, is a shared responsibility today. That fact alone, in a recession, can provide a lot of families with a built-in backstop–an Unemployment Cushion–to the destitution that unemployment in a recession can cause.

In the last 50 years, job growth has far outstripped population growth. As a result, today’s 10.2% unemployment rate leaves a far greater proportion of the population at work than in the past. In 1961, for example, when we hit 7.1% unemployment, the record for that period, only a third of Americans had jobs. Today, even with 10% unemployment, nearly half the country, or 138 million people, is still at work.

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Politico: The Strategy Corner with Mark Penn: Turning to the left or to the center?


Published November 17, 2009

Is President Barack Obama governing from the left or from the center? It’s a question no one quite seems to have a clear answer to. The post-ideological positioning that worked so well during the campaign is not proving as effective at holding the electoral coalition together given the mounting pressures of governing.

During the campaign, Obama nodded to the left on the Iraq war and civil liberties, but he also sent signals to the center that he would operate in a generally bipartisan manner, pursue the Afghanistan war vigorously and not raise taxes on 95 percent of all Americans. Centrist voters are looking to see that these promises are kept.

While the White House communications have been stellar overall, the echo chamber out there has left some uncertainty about important issues in the voters’ minds. Is the administration for or against waging the Afghanistan war on an all-out basis, including taking down the Taliban? Are jobs or regulating Wall Street its top priority? Should the insurance drug companies be reined in or an accommodation reached?

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The Times (UK): Men: The Second Sex?

Men: The Second Sex?
It’s increasingly a woman’s world, as boys and men lose ground at school and at work. A chance to redefine manhood?

…These days, outside top City circles, being a man does not signify first-class status. In much of modern life, maleness means coming second…

…Mark Penn, the author of the influential book Microtrends, has highlighted the phenomenon of what he calls Guys Left Behind: “Sure, most leadership positions are still filled by men, and there are lots of super-achieving men out there,” he says. “But on the other end of the spectrum, serious problems are brewing for the future of men.” According to statistics, he says, men are 15 times more likely to go to prison, more likely to be obese, alcoholic, unemployed and die earlier.

“When it comes to earning what you learn, guys aren’t learning what they need to — women are getting almost 60% of the college degrees conferred… This college gap could be the one that spells the most serious problem for guys, and over time can be at the root of a lot of increased frustration and even crime… The lifestyles and habits that worked so well for men in more dangerous times may not be working so well for them in the information age. In every age from the caves right on through the second world war, it worked for men to take big risks, have short attention spans and be driven by ego. These days, those things are more likely to get in the way of doing a good job.”…

Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column: Boss Nation by Mark Penn

Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column
From The Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column
Published August 3, 2009

It’s a common lament in America that we spend too much time working for “the man.” But these days, more and more of us are the man.

According to the Census, more than 10 million Americans are self-employed, up from about 8 million in 1980. Even more telling, the number of “non-employer firms” — businesses with no payroll — recently topped 20 million, up from 15 million in the late 1990s. A lot of people with jobs also have businesses on the side they hope will become big enough to support them.

And so the term “boss” today applies to a lot more of us than ever before.

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Politico: The Strategy Corner with Mark Penn: The 10 percent unemployment tripwire


Published July 9, 2009

Unless some tough decisions are made soon, rising jobless figures will most likely hit what could be a public opinion and political tripwire: 10 percent unemployment.

If and when the country crosses that line, it will be the No. 1 news story for days, recent stock market gains could recede, and consumer confidence will fall. And whether or not the economic crisis is coming to an end, such a high unemployment level has the potential to undermine the hard-won confidence enjoyed by the Obama administration. The Republicans will quickly claim all we have is more debt and fewer jobs.

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The Times: Women are victors in ‘mancession’

Women are victors in ‘mancession’
Gender roles are being rewritten in America as men bear the brunt of job losses

THE economic crisis is sweeping away men’s jobs at a faster rate than those of women in America, heralding the onset of a so-called “mancession”.

New unemployment figures have revealed the biggest gap in jobless rates between men and women for more than half a century. The shifting pattern is redefining gender roles and challenging the status of men as family breadwinners.

…Mark Penn, Hillary Clinton’s chief strategist during her presidential election campaign, calls the new generation of men “guys left behind”. The ultra-wealthy multi-millionaires still tend to be men, but the pay gap is closing for people in their twenties. Men are also finding themselves in greater numbers at the bottom of the heap.

“There is a statistically significant and growing group of guys who are just not going to make it,” Penn wrote in The Wall Street Journal last week.

Men, he pointed out, are outstripping women in all the “downers” in life – there are more felons, more alcoholics, more drug addicts – and they generally die first. While Penn’s own patron, Clinton, failed to crack the White House glass ceiling, it was unthinkable for Barack Obama to appoint a male Supreme Court justice to replace David Souter – instead he went for Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic nominee…

Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column: America’s Newest Profession: Bloggers for Hire

Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column
From The Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column
Published April 21, 2009

In America today, there are almost as many people making their living as bloggers as there are lawyers. Already more Americans are making their primary income from posting their opinions than Americans working as computer programmers, firefighters or even bartenders.

Paid bloggers fit just about every definition of a microtrend: Their ranks have grown dramatically over the years, blogging is an important social and cultural movement that people care passionately about, and the number of people doing it for at least some income is approaching 1% of American adults.

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MSNBC: Mark Penn Explains Recession Microtrends on Morning Joe

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Strategist Mark Penn discusses how unprepared the US is for the newly unemployed masses