What Should Hillary Do?

palin-mccain.jpgJohn McCain’s selection of Alaska’s Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate puts a target on Hillary Clinton’s back.  Shrewdly tactical, the choice of a woman as the Republican Vice Presidential candidate turns the spotlight back on Hillary but not the way she wanted.  In virtually every area of public policy the two women are diametrically opposed. 

She doesn’t support a woman’s right to choose.  Roe v. Wade would no longer be the law of the land if she and John McCain are able to put new Supreme Court Justices on the bench.  When she was a mayor she tried to ban books from the local library.  Governor Palin wants to drill in ANWAR.  She would take the polar bear off the endangered species list.  She would make the teaching of creationism mandatory in schools.  Nobody knows what she thinks about Universal Health Care, but we’ve heard what John McCain thinks and we can safely assume Sarah Palin will be in lock step with his positions. 

Governor Palin’s strategy is very out in the open.  In her first speech she credited Geraldine A. Ferarro and Hillary Clinton as the women who paved the way for her historic opportunity.  Incredibly she anointed herself as the woman who would advance the cause of women’s suffrage.  She claims that even though Hillary had put 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling, the Democrats had failed women. She insists that with her election as Vice President, she and the Republicans would forever shatter that barrier. 

After so many months of campaigning and energizing women around the country, Hillary Clinton ironically has passed the baton of women’s empowerment to Sarah Palin…or so she says. 

With the Palin nomination, the Republicans are trying to steal the Democrat’s headline.  The first African-American major party candidate for President.  The first woman major party candidate for President.  Through the primary process, the Democrats earned the right to say that they are the party of change.  Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton worked long and tirelessly to earn the title of ground-breaking candidate. 

With Sarah Palin’s nomination as Vice President, the Republicans once again are attempting to appropriate the Democrats’ policy positions (remember the “Healthy Forests’ Initiative”) reducing them to slogans without a belief in the underlying public policy.  So Governor Palin is a self-proclaimed, glass-ceiling breaking woman who will do for America’s women what the Democrats wouldn’t.  If elected she will be their representative at the highest level of government, except….her public policies are anathema to Hillary Clinton.

Sarah Palin is a Pied Piper who could lure Hillary’s followers down a path to oblivion if she convinces them that just because she’s a woman, they should follow her, regardless of her beliefs, policies, and agenda. 

obama_unity.jpgI would respectfully argue that what Hillary needs to do is to campaign aggressively on behalf of Barack Obama.  She needs to talk to her 18 million supporters to make the obvious point that when they were voting for her, they were embracing a woman and her policies.  Their support might have been energized by the fact that Hillary was a woman, but she can’t let them forget that she represented not just gender but vital policy positions. To protect her legacy, franchise, and constituency, Hillary has a lot to do in the next two months.  She needs to guide her supporters to the right path to avoid the disaster of a McCain-Palin administration. 

Hillary’s supporters have their own legacy to protect.  They fought long and hard for a ground-breaking candidate.  Their voices were heard.  They exercised their political muscle, but now they have an even larger challenge.  They need to move past their disappointment and campaign for Barack Obama as vigorously as they did for Hillary.  He is dedicated to the same values and public policies as Hillary.  Her supporters have to be mobilized by the real and present danger presented by a McCain-Palin candidacy.

The Democrats have the opportunity to do something great in this election, to take the country on a new path at a crucial time in our history, and they can’t do it without Hillary or her supporters.


David Latt is an Emmy-award winning television producer who turns to cooking to alleviate stress. He shares his experiences with food and his favorite recipes on his blog Men Who Like To Cook.