ELIZABETH EDWARDS SLINGS SOME MUD. In a recent Salon interview (via Marc Ambinder) Elizabeth Edwards unloads some really harsh and, to my mind, mostly unfair criticisms of Hillary Clinton and, to a lesser extent, Barack Obama:
Look, I'm sympathetic, because when I worked as a lawyer, I was the only woman in these rooms, too, and you want to reassure them you're as good as a man. And sometimes you feel you have to behave as a man and not talk about women's issues. I'm sympathetic -- she wants to be commander in chief. But she's just not as vocal a women's advocate as I want to see. John is. And then she says, or maybe her supporters say, "Support me because I'm a woman," and I want to say to her, "Well, then support me because I'm a woman." The question is not so much how she campaigns -- that's theater. The question is, what does her campaign tell you about how she'll govern? And I'm not convinced she'd be as good an advocate for women. She needs a rationale greater for her campaign than I've heard. When she announced her candidacy she said, "I'm in it to win it." What is that? That's not a rationale. Same with Senator Obama-- I've yet to hear a rationale. John is extremely clear about what he can accomplish and why he's the one to do it.
I don't think I've ever heard Hillary say "support me because I'm a woman" and the idea that the only reason anyone is supporting her is because of her gender is offensive. I have my issues with her, but she has an impressive record and many people genuinely believe she'd make a great president. She does have a rationale for her campaign too: she portrays herself as a tough, experienced fighter who'll get things done.
And the idea that Obama lacks a rationale for his campaign is downright delusional. His rationale -- bringing America together, moving past partisanship, helping families -- is what he spends all of his time talking about to the point that he's criticized for lacking specifics. Whatever you think of that, and there are certainly valid criticisms, he does have a rationale and an idea of what he wants and how to accomplish it.
I went to the Planned Parenthood event yesterday and saw Clinton, Obama and Elizabeth Edwards speak. They all had slightly different approaches to reproductive rights issues, but basically they agreed. Obama, as usual, had fewer specifics and Hillary talked about health care less, but the idea that John Edwards, who didn't even show up to the event, is somehow uniquely placed to be a women's advocate is ridiculous. Elizabeth Edwards is saying stuff she should know isn't true. I expected more.
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