Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Where In the World is Hillary Clinton?

As Barack Obama looked more and more likely to win the primary election this past summer, many observers wondered if Hillary Clinton would accept the decision of the voters. Perhaps she would try to find a way to include the excluded delegates from Michigan and Florida. Maybe she would try to make the case that Obama couldn't win the bigger swing states, and attempt to outmaneuver his campaign at the convention. As the time approached for her to either accept or dispute the outcome of the race, everyone waited with anticipation to see what she would do. Obviously, by now the entire nation knows what happened- she conceded the race and pledged to support Obama's candidacy in the general election, and her husband convincingly echoed those sentiments.

Still people wondered whether the Clintons would feel snubbed because Hillary was not tagged as Obama's running mate. Conventional wisdom suggested that she was likely considered, before being rejected in favor of Joe Biden. The McCain campaign exploited the situation by picking an unknown female politician from a remote state as his Vice Presidential nominee. Since then Sarah Palin has energized the base and inspired an avalanche of charges and countercharges among the media, her fans and detractors. In the meantime she has been vocal in praising the Clinton candidacy, claiming to have been inspired by Hillary's example. She has also tried to claim the support of "disenchanted" Clinton voters.

That latest charge is, at its core, essentially irrational. How any reasonable supporter of a Clinton candidacy could transfer his/her loyalties to Palin simply because of gender boggles my mind, and makes me a bit contemptuous of their mental capabilities. Their positions on all of the major issues are virtually dichotomous. Still we are told by Right Wing pundits and the McCain/Palin campaign that women voters who had formerly backed Clinton are flocking to the other side. I suspect that many of these folks are the so-called "PUMAs" that only voted for Hillary at the behest of hack radio host Rush Limbaugh. His calculated attempt to stop the Obama candidacy by having Republicans register to vote in the Democratic primaries fell flat on its face (see Operation Chaos).

But the lip service that disingenuous "conservatives" paid Clinton only betrayed their fears of an Obama victory. The same thing holds true post-convention. The idea that Sarah Palin would represent the core values of women drawn to Hillary Clinton is patently ridiculous. This is a politician who believes that abortion should be illegal even in cases of rape and incest. This is a governor who knowingly replaced the fired public safety commissioner (who had refused to sack her ex-brother-in-law) with someone with an alleged history of sexual harassment*. Meanwhile the executive director of the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault reports that the high rates of domestic violence and rape in Palin's state "haven't been on her radar as a priority".

McCain's record on "women's issues" is even worse. He has been vocal in his opposition to the Equal Pay Bill for Women, and has suggested that what they need instead is more "education and training"**. In an attempt to kill existing legislation, he voted to suspend the Family and Medical Leave Act, "unless the federal government certified that compliance would not increase business expenses or provide financial assistance to businesses to cover any related costs." And like his running mate, McCain supports the overturning of Roe v. Wade. However, despite these concerns, Hillary Clinton is allowing the McCain/Palin ticket to claim her former supporters without any substantive challenge. Her campaign staffers have said that they won't allow her to be used as Obama's "attack dog". While that is certainly their right, it makes me wonder about her intentions and speculations about 2012.

*As a result of the public disclosure of these complaints, Chuck Kopp resigned two weeks after Sarah Palin appointed him. Palin admits having been aware of these reports when she offered him the position.

**Maybe the training he has in mind is the VP position?

ENDNOTE: This post was inspired in part by Carlo Osi's articulate and insightful analysis, "The Clinton Factor versus the Palin Effect". Please read it here.

POSTSCRIPT: I wrote this post on Tuesday, and then found out later that Hillary Clinton had a few words with Diane Sawyer (on Good Morning America) . Could this be the start of real support for the Obama/Biden campaign? Well, she did make a point of trying to redirect the attention from Palin to McCain. I'm not quite sure that spin is the best she can do for the ticket at this point.

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