To be clear, the reason I say liberals should fear Mark Penn actually has little-to-nothing to do with Iraq. My strong guess is that Penn and I disagree about foreign policy, but that would just be inference based on the people and organizations he’s associated with; he doesn’t have a strong profile on the topic and I don’t really know what it thinks. The trouble with Penn is his monomaniacal insistence that what the Democratic Party needs to do is move to the right on economic issues in hopes of becoming more appealing to prosperous white men.
I’m not sure if Jon Chait’s 2002 Penn takedown is available to non-subscribers (maybe this works) but if so it should be read. Alternatively, this (PDF) from Ruy Teixeira makes many of the same points albeit at greater length. The “populism” debate inside the Democratic Party isn’t really my issue and I have mixed feelings about some aspects of it, but I think it’s fairly clear to everyone that relatively downscale white voters — especially, but not exclusively, women — who tend to have progressive views on many topics are where the electoral action is. I bet these guys like Penn’s ideas, though.