We're Not Stupid, Howard
by Josh Orton, Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 03:32:54 PM EDT
Count me among the confused as to why Sen. Clinton hasn't helped define Sarah Palin more forcefully. And not just because Palin's a woman, or because McCain's gained among white women since choosing Palin - but instead because Palin has repeatedly cited Hillary Clinton's groundbreaking campaign explicitly, laying unauthorized claim to its legacy of 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling.
So this explanation from Clinton aide Howard Wolfson is almost insulting:
I have been asked repeatedly over the last several days to respond to the idea that Hillary Clinton will soon be dispatched by the Obama campaign to "take Palin on."
The questions are fair, but what undergirds them is an obsession in our popular culture with the "cat fight," an offensive term that describes the spectacle of two well known women fighting with one another.
Secondly, and most importantly, Democrats are running against John McCain, not Sarah Palin. Running against Gov. Palin instead of Senator McCain would be a mistake -- ultimately voters will make their assessments based on the strength and weaknesses of the top of the tickets. If anything, Democrats should be talking about McCain-Bush, not McCain-Palin. Every day we are focused on Palin is a day we are not amplifying the Obama campaign's message that Senator McCain simply represents four more years of President Bush.
Palin hijacks Clinton's historic campaign legacy by name, but if Clinton responds or comments forcefully in reply, it would immediately constitute a "catfight?" Talk about internalizing the stereotype.
Second, let's make something clear: Barack Obama is running against John McCain. Just because our campaign's principal shouldn't engage Palin doesn't mean our surrogates can't or shouldn't.
And of course Democrats should focus on McCain-Bush. But as McCain-Palin rallies continue to draw thousands and attract roadblock cable news coverage, it would be, let's say, naive to ignore her.
Wolfson says Clinton "is at her best staying positive and contrasting with her opponents on issues" and while "some might enjoy the spectacle...don't expect Hillary Clinton to play along."
Strange, I tend to remember Hillary Clinton at her best when she speaks truth to power, like when she unabashedly stood up to Bill O'Reilly in defense of true progressive economic policy.
Hillary is free to do whatever she wants. She's been gracious to Obama and his supporters and deserves thanks for campaigning on behalf of the Democratic ticket. But everyone, including her, deserves better than Wolfson's thick spin. We're not stupid.