She [Hillary] and John McCain are very close. They always laugh that if they wound up being the nominees of their party, it would be the most civilized election in American history and they're afraid they'd put the voters to sleep because they like and respect each other. ~ Bill Clinton, Jan. 25, 2008Obviously, such civility does not extend to colleagues on the same side of the aisle. In the last week, Hillary Clinton's campaigning has gotten as vile as any primary race in Democratic Party history. It is not the kind of campaign someone engages in if she hopes unite the party. It is more like she doesn't care if she wins as long as Obama loses. It is as if Hillary is trying to throw the election to her good friend John McCain.
Consider this evidence. In January, when Bill made the above statement, the office of Burson-Marsteller was riding high. Their CEO, Mark Penn, was running Hillary's campaign and she was still odds on favorite to gain the Democratic nomination. The chairman of Burson-Marsteller subsidiary BKSH, one Charlie Black, was high up in the McCain camp and McCain was surging. However the election turned out the corporation of Burson-Marsteller stood to be the declared king-maker; their business would boom. Clients like Saudi Arabia and BlackwaterUSA would know their PR firm had the ear of whoever became president while new clients would be lining up to hire the one company guaranteed to have a key to the back door of the White House.
Fast forward to late February. McCain is polling dismally against Barack Obama and the polls don't show the utter lack of excitement in McCain's weak speaking style. Hillary is hanging on by her fingernails and the polls in Texas indicate a probable lose there. All of a sudden, Burson-Marsteller's prospects are looking shitty. The Saudis are wondering why they are spending millions on a company that will likely be shut out come November 4.
A wise corporate executive would remember that no client is more important than the company. He would consider sacrificing one client to promote the interests of another. Thereby hoping to salvage the Burson-Marsteller's prospects.
The PR Plan
Send Hillary Clinton out as an attack dog. Let McCain reiterate the attacks but always make him seem the more reasonable of the two. Be unrelenting, be imaginative, be loathsome. It doesn't matter if Hillary looks like a harpy, a racist, or worse. Her loss is certain; her reputation meaningless. Let her destroy herself in the public eye as long as she damaged Obama in the process. If it also distracts from Iseman-gate, so much better. Hillary Clinton is meaningless now. She is sacrificing herself to the greater glory of Burson-Marsteller.
Is Hillary taking this tack deliberately or is she being duped by Mark Penn? I suspect the latter. While Penn will probably throw a few million dollars Bill Clinton's way to compensate them for their sacrifice, I doubt that Hillary would choose to destroy her reputation and career just so Mark Penn can profit. I do believe that Penn is wily enough to convince Hillary to take this insane path. In the emotions of an ongoing campaign, especially one where the candidate had convinced herself that victory was inevitable and now sees that slipping away, it is easy to lure a candidate into behaving like an idiot.