THE FLACK SEPTEMBER 7, 2008
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.On the cover of this week's Entertainment Weekly Shannen Doherty and Jennie Garth discuss punching and scratching one another. Over the weekend it was Oprah Winfrey vs Sarah Palin. Some are so eager for a fight that one well known columnist on Sunday even imagined a 2012 Presidential debate between Senator Clinton and Governor Palin. For whatever unfortunate reasons, editors and news executives are convinced that two women fighting sells magazines and attracts eyeballs. You can imagine the thinking....if Angelina Jolie vs Jennifer Aniston and Britney Spears vs Christina Aguilera sell copies, what could be better than Hillary Clinton vs Sarah Palin?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. She has already been stumping for Senator Obama leading up to the convention and will be stumping for him as much as Senator Obama wants her to between now and the election.
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.Clinton-Palin might drive ratings and sell magazines, but it wouldn't be good for the Democratic party, or the cause of women's rights. Some might enjoy the spectacle, but don't expect Hillary Clinton to play along. Hillary Clinton has spent a lifetime resisting quick and easy stereotypes, and she's not about to stop now.