I have already written about the need for Senator Clinton to forcefully criticize Governor Palin -- to call Palin out for what she is: a radical social conservative that Clinton's' ideological opposite; someone who absolutely cannot be a heartbeat away from the presidency, especially if that president is a 72-year-old who has had four bouts of melanoma.
Senator Clinton was apparently on vacation last week and was not heard from. Monday marked Clinton's first day campaigning for the Obama-Biden ticket during the postconvention stretch run. So how did she do? According to the Boston Globe, "Campaigning for Barack Obama yesterday in the toss-up state of Florida, Clinton barely uttered Palin's name." Yikes.
This is a major problem; The Globe explains why:
Clinton, analysts say, is the only Democrat with the national stature and the relationship with white working-class and rural women to blunt the excitement Palin is generating, and to make the argument that the GOP vice presidential nominee is an extremist on the issues.
Senator Barbara Boxer firmly criticized Palin immediately after the McCain campaign announced Palin's selection; so have other prominent Democratic women. The Globe notes:
In the last several days, leading Democratic women including Governor Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas and Senator Barbara Boxer of California have drawn sharp contrasts between Obama's and Palin's positions on abortion, global warming, and other issues, but Clinton has only done so obliquely.
Why is Clinton laying off Palin? The Globe points to a blog post from Howard Wolfson, her former campaign communications director, entitled "No 'Cat Fights'." Declares Wolfson:
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.
Huh? Like many Democrats, I have been waiting for Clinton to set the record straight since the moment Palin brazenly tried to paint her candidacy as the successor to Senator Clinton's campaign. However, I am certainly not looking for "catfight," as Wolfson suggests.
Rather, I want to see Clinton criticize Palin on the issues. I want to see Senator Clinton firmly state that Governor Palin opposes virtually everything Clinton has fought for during her career -- like offering universal healthcare, fighting global warming and developing alternative energy sources, and protecting women's reproductive rights.
To assume that Senator Clinton criticizing Governor Palin's record on the issues would automatically devolve into a "catfight," as Wolfson suggests, is just plain wrong.
But Wilson states that Clinton will not attack Palin directly:
Don't hold your breath. It's not going to happen
It's not in Hillary Clinton's interest, and its certainly not in the interest of Barack Obama and the Democratic party... You may not remember, but Hillary Clinton is at her best staying positive and contrasting with her opponents on issues...
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 is... 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.
Call me crazy, but why can't Clinton pointedly criticize Palin on the issues for essentially being an ideological clone of George W. Bush? Doesn't pointing out the fact that McCain's choice for a running mate is an ideological clone of Bush help the Obama campaign tie McCain-Palin to Bush?
Certainly, I am not suggesting Senator Clinton spend the next eight weeks attacking only Palin, at the expense of criticizing McCain or promoting the Democratic ticket. However, the selection of Palin -- and the subsequent media lovefest -- may very well have changed the dynamic of the race. Most Americans are still just learning about who Sarah Palin is. Unless Democrats get the truth out, many voters will only have the false portrait of Palin painted by the McCain campaign.
On national television, Palin made a blatant play for the Caucasian female demographic that overwhelmingly supported Clinton in the primaries. Declared Palin:
It was rightly noted in Denver this week that Hillary left 18 million cracks in the highest, hardest glass ceiling in America. But thankfully, as it turns out, the women of America aren’t finished yet, and the voters will shatter that glass ceiling once and for all.
Senator Clinton must respond directly to make it clear to voters that Palin is not grabbing the baton from Clinton, she is grabbing the baton from Bush. As a Democrat who voted for Senator Clinton in the primary election, I expect Clinton to do everything she can to help the Democratic ticket win in November. Ignoring Palin is not going to cut it.
We are waiting, Senator Clinton.