Blogs > HNN > Does Hillary Clinton Hate Sarah Palin More than a Nuclear Iran?

Sep 18, 2008 8:02 pm

Does Hillary Clinton Hate Sarah Palin More than a Nuclear Iran?

Senator Hillary Clinton’s refusal to attend the major rally called for Monday September 22 in New York against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s UN appearance is outrageous -- as is the organizers' subsequent decision to disinvite Sarah Palin. Back in August, Senator Clinton had agreed to attend. She abruptly pulled out this week because the Republican nominee Sarah Palin also agreed to appear. This move suggests that Senator Clinton hates Governor Palin and the Republicans more than she hates Iran’s Ahmadinejad, despite his sexism, homophobia and advocacy of genocide.

The explanation Senator Clinton’s office gave for the shift was petulant and ignorant. Apparently, Clinton felt blindsided by news of Palin’s appearance. Palin’s “attendance was news to us, and this was never billed to us as a partisan political event,” Mrs. Clinton’s spokesman, Philippe Reines, told the New York Times. “Senator Clinton will therefore not be attending.” Upset by the controversy, a day later the organizers declared that no elected officials would attend, to keep the event"nonpartisan." But as Senators John McCain and Barack Obama showed in their joint appearance on September 11, sometimes political rivals have to stop opposing each other, even during election season. Imagine how powerful a message the American people would have sent to Iran had their two leading women politicians stood together during the presidential campaign against Ahmadinejad and Iran’s nuclear-hungry mullahocracy.

Of course, Palin’s planned appearance was not simply altruistic and of course it had partisan aims. Politicians never stop prospecting for votes, especially during tough elections. And Palin’s willingness to protest against Ahmadinejad was part of her quest for legitimacy in foreign policy as well as a play for Jewish votes. Hillary Clinton’s initial decision to attend the rally also was partisan as was her decision to boycott this important round in the popular fight against Iran. It is not surprising that Clinton recoiled at the thought of helping Palin’s quest in any way, but it is disappointing that Clinton succumbed to those feelings, given the seriousness of the Iranian threat.

The organizers did not need the rally to be nonpartisan but bipartisan. A nonpartisan rally limits the guest list to apolitical people such as the writer Elie Wiesel, who is planning to lend his powerful moral voice to the effort. But the organizers initially understood that in the United States, power resides with partisan politicians. The rally would have been most effective had it been bipartisan – with influential representatives from both sides of the aisle. It is surprising that Senator Clinton and then the organizers failed to understand that distinction between bipartisan and nonpartisan. It is also unrealistic for Senator Clinton to walk around pretending that Sarah Palin has not become America’s newest political superstar.

The comic sensation of the week is a skit from NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler imitating Palin and Clinton, respectively. The skit imagines the two of them uniting to battle sexism. On Monday, life could have outdone art. In fact, in addition to denouncing Ahmadinejad, Senator Hillary Clinton could have helped remind Americans of the many things that unite them, even during this campaign. Instead, Hillary Clinton played the partisan – and diminished her own moral standing in the process.

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james joseph butler - 9/29/2008

Arnold, s a t i r e.

Arnold Shcherban - 9/28/2008

This childish argument of the type whose-doll-is-better, demonstrates (if anything) the superficious, sensationalist, and elitarian nature of the American electorial culture, that deliberately
sways public's attention from the essential content of the candidates'
ideological and political position towards anecdotal episodes.
As far as Iran's issue goes, "the Iranian people assail the Kastle and sunder the bad spells" is the key clause here (not Americans or Israelis.)

Arnold Shcherban - 9/27/2008

beating in the drums made of the skin of the same sheep:
The Iraq story repeating itself with

Bill Heuisler - 9/27/2008

Dear N.,
Nice to "hear" your calm, rational voice again. I've been playing in the sand box and have missed much of HNN.

You are correct. Little is made of Biden's comments about FDR on television in 1929, but much is made of Sarah Palin's smiling attempt at levity when she spoke of seeing Russia. Attacks on her are all out of proportion and Obama's errors are not only ignored, but excused.

There is a pathology afoot in the media and it threatens our Democratic process. The sad part is that our so-called intelligencia follow along so meekly. Like reading Orwell again.

BTW grunts love Sarah,
Bill Heuisler

N. Friedman - 9/26/2008


In fairness, it remains to be seen whether Ms. Palin is really up to job. Thus far, she has not exactly come across as a heavyweight.

On the other hand, the approach taken by the press is to repeat the same question over and over again to her, something they do not do when other politicians make similarly vacuous comments. That amounts to playing the role of advocate, not an evenhanded press.

So, we shall have to see how she performs.

I should note that I am not a Republican and I do not, so far, plan to vote for McCain. But, I can also say that much of what the press is doing to Ms. Palin, whether or not her views are retrograde or, perhaps, even existent, is grossly unfair.

It is my impression that the other possibly empty suit is Mr. Obama. Remove his script, force him to answer the same question repeatedly and, magic, he might well appear like a lightweight. So, I have real doubts about him.

McCain's problem is that I disagree with a number of his view, most especially on domestic policy. That said, I have no doubt that he is not a lightweight.

Bill Heuisler - 9/26/2008

Mr. Simon,
You wrote, "Maybe when it's true and requires stating" True? Your studied uncomprehension defines ignorance.
Your sources stink, literally. And for you to ignore Biden's stupidity while dwelling on Palin is odd.

Andrew Sullivan, was one of the nasty gossips spreading a malicious rumor from the Daily Kos in the first week of September that Sarah Palin had never been pregnant, but that she pretended to have a child really birthed by her daughter. False, and easily disproved, but you cite him.

There was no evidence, Mr. Simon, only wishful malevolence. Enjoy reading Sullivan's smears, but don't pretend a search for truth.
Bill Heuisler

E. Simon - 9/25/2008

Maybe when it's true and requires stating:

This one reminds me of Dan Quayle's comments on Hawaii:

In all fairness, I'm not yet convinced that Palin's as stupid as Quayle. I think she's actually a little bit smarter than him. Her intelligence is relegated to a whole host of things that have nothing to do with thoughtful deliberation, learning the background of a situation that could help one find an effective position on it or running the government competently, and everything to do with using political office for personal means and memorizing the talking points that her taskmasters told her to stay restricted to. Which seemed to suit her just fine.

N. Friedman - 9/24/2008

Tommi Nieminen,

Ahmadinejad favors the position taken by his country's clerics, which is to stone homosexuals.

As for a homophobe being a homophobe, I think that is not so. I think that people have varying degrees of phobia, from fear of the unknown to outright hatred.

As for Palin, the evidence you have provided does not show that she is a homophobe. It shows that she has doubts about providing support to unmarried couples of the same sex. That may be due to homophobia. It might not be. Further exploring that topic, what are her views about civil unions? I see she opposes gay marriages but that, of course, is a different thing than opposing civil unions.

Tommi Nieminen - 9/24/2008

I don’t quite hold with the “mild – strict homophobe” dichotomy. A homophobe is a homophobe: a person willing to get rid of gays in his or her surroundings in any way that comes in handy under the circumstances given.

By the way, Palin vetoed the benefits bill because “the Alaska attorney general had advised her that the bill was unconstitutional, not because she supported spousal benefits for same-sex couples.” ( Palin is a bigot if any.

And on the other hand, as I said, I do not know whether Ahmadinejad *favours* the stonings of gays: the only thing I know for sure is that he has claimed Iran does not *have* the “problem”.

N. Friedman - 9/23/2008

Tommi Nieminen,

Ms. Palin, with whom I do not - I repeat, do not - share a political agenda, does not advocate the stoning to death of homosexuals. She does not advocate that they be physically harmed by any other means. Ms. Palin is surely no friend of homosexuals but, frankly, that is a far different thing from believing they deserve to be stoned to death or railed against.

Your viewpoint confuses mild prejudice which is unfortunately common to most people on earth with radical efforts to kill homosexuals en masse. I might add: this is not even the approach which has historically marked Islam. Traditionally, Muslim civilization has railed strongly against homosexuals, just like in the West, but has not - I repeat, has not - generally set to work to kill them so long as such homosexuals kept their lifestyle quiet - sort of a don't ask, don't tell approach -. Muslim civilization has generally limited its hatred and killing of homosexuals to those who make the mistake of coming out of the closet.

But even there, Ms. Palin does not advocate killing homosexuals who come out of the closet. And, whatever her private view may really be - and it is not all that crystal clear -, in power she vetoed a bill that would block state employee benefits and health insurance for homosexual couples. So, she is nothing like Ahmadinejad. That, frankly, is a ridiculous analogy that acts to protect real bigots like Ahmadinejad and his Iranian Hezb'Allah party under the cover that Ms. Palin is no friend of homosexuals.

Tommi Nieminen - 9/23/2008

N. Friedman and Elliott Aron Green both,

I am truly sorry if what I said somehow appeared to be defending Ahmadinejad or his views on Israel and the Jews. That was not my intention.

In my first comment, I picked the topics of sexism and homosexuality, because it seems to me Ahmadinejad’s and Palin’s views are not very different on *those*. It’s another point altogether that Ahmadinejad lives in a country that actually does something along the lines Palin seems to be quite okay with.

N. Friedman - 9/23/2008

Tommi Nieminen,

With Iran, we have a government seemingly committed to spreading hate and advocating death - and not just against homosexuals. We have legislation, as we speak, that would return Iran's policy to that of the death penalty for apostasy. And, we have a government, through its president, Mr. Ahmadinjad, who is a leading advocate of hatred against not just Israel but against Jews more particularly. That is all pretty loathsome stuff.

We have Iran as the main supporter of the Hezb'Allah party. According to the leader, Mr. Hassan Nasrallah, of the Hezb'Allah (Party of Allah) party - the same party, by the way, that rules in Iran - saying, on October 22, 2002, to the Lebanese newspaper the Daily Star, that "if all the Jews come to Israel, they'll make our job easier, and will keep us from having to go hunt them down all over the world." Support of Mr. Nasrallah's party is official Iranian policy!

What sort of thinking excuses Ahmadinejad and today's Iran to gain advantage over Ms. Palin? It is thinking that has lost its way, that confuses the latest version regressive, fascistic thinking for progressive, liberal thinking.

No. Mr. Ahmadinejad does not speak for all Iranians. Hallelujah for that! But, on the topics above, he does appear to speak for the group which rules the country, including its supreme leader, who endorses large chunks of it.

N. Friedman - 9/23/2008

Mr. Loewen,

Holding the spotlight on Iran is more important than the small, imaginable advantage that magnifying Ms. Palin or diminishing Ms. Clinton or even Mr. Obama would have been.

Tommi Nieminen - 9/23/2008

I’m quite aware of Iran executing homosexuals. However, the only thing I know of Ahmadinejad’s position on this is that he claims homosexuality is “unknown” in Iran.

On the other hand, Palin has openly favored “curing” homosexuals, which has also been a convenient way of preparing the public for more drastic measures. She has as well tried to censor knowledge about homosexualism, thus proving quite able to utilise the same techniques of rhetoric as Ahmadinejad.

As far as I can see, “juvenile comparisons” include equating Ahmadinejad with Iran. The previous Iranian president was more liberal-minded but manifestly powerless to change anything, so where’s the proof that Ahmadinejad is the one to blame for everything in present-day Iran? I’m trying to blame him only of what I know for sure – just like with Palin.

Elliott Aron Green - 9/23/2008

Nieminen, there really is no need to wonder about who is more dangerous for women and homosexuals, A-jad or Sarah Palin. If you would take the time to study the matter you might learn that in today's Iran, homosexuals are executed for violating Islamic law. Are you aware of that? Likewise, are you aware of the severe restrictions on women's rights there? That they are compelled to wear the burka, that police watch out for violations of Islamic morality, beauty salons are outlawed, etc? And of course, A-jad has threatened to wipe Israel off the map. His Holocaust denial that you acknowledge is a convenient way of preparing public opinion for another Holocaust. Maybe you should read and study more about today's Iran instead of making juvenile comparisons between ahmadinejad and Sarah Palin.

Raul A Garcia - 9/22/2008

I'd take either of our "princesses" over the Persian "prince" any day! I hope the Iranian people assail the Kastle and sunder the bad spells.

james joseph butler - 9/22/2008

What a pity. Palin and Clinton, head to head, who's the baddest sheriff in town? Hillary? She of, "we will attack Iran" and "totally obliterate them". Or mild mannered Sarah? Red, white and blue bikined, M-16 on the hip, Sarah. Better yet those Iranian nuke wanna bes better not mess with either one of our bad girls, you know, just like Mr.Wanted Dead or Alive, himself, George of the Jungle, these lassies can push a button with the best of them. And then we all get to join the fun.

Bill Heuisler - 9/22/2008

Mr. Ward,
Why the gratuitous insults? Why,"an ignorant and potentially trigger-happy Sarah Palin" without any rationale? Are you shallow enough to expect HNN readers to agree with your ignorant and sexist remark? This obviously intelligent and highly accomplished woman deserves courtesy at the very least.

The issue is the loss of an apparent bi-partisan rebuke to a tyrant; the loss is Israel's. And, as others have said here, the loss is Hillary's - another intelligent and highly accomplished woman. Imagine the impact on Ahmadinijad of speeches - side by side - by two such dynamic and highly placed American women warning of the dangers of nuclear proliferation. Your insults here are misplaced and childish.
Bill Heuisler

Tommi Nieminen - 9/22/2008

I wonder who’s really the most sexist and homophobic of them all – Ahmadinejad or Palin? And anyway, I fail to see how Ahmadinejad is an “advocate of genocide”. He’s probably foolish enough to have doubts about it (= the Holocaust) really happening, but that doesn’t and shouldn’t count as advocacy.

Elliott Aron Green - 9/22/2008

but by pulling out, Hilary did a disservice to the cause which is strongest when it has BIpartisan support. Troy is right that a bipartisan rally is better than a nonpartisan one. Further, just because politicians are always being political and partisan does not mean that they should be allowed to get away with it in every case. The Iran situation needs bipartisanship. If Hilary wanted it then she could have made an important contribution. If Obama loses NY then maybe it will be Hilary's fault.

Andrew S Ward - 9/22/2008

Perhaps Professor Troy might consider that Clinton decided that on more fronts than just Iran we have more to fear from legitimizing an ignorant and potentially trigger-happy Sarah Palin than we do from a floundering Ahmadinejad. In any case, by Troy's reasoning, Clinton's absence or attendance would have been partisan. I am no fan of Senator Clinton, but in this case I think she made the right partisan choice.

Elliott Aron Green - 9/22/2008

Actually, Michael, Hilary does seem insincere and petty on account of this episode. Troy is quite right in saying that the best support for the cause [of preventing a nuclear Iran] would be a bipartisan rally, not a nonpartisan rally which would likely be too mild and milquetoasty.

James W Loewen - 9/22/2008

Of course Clinton's action was partisan. So was Palin's. For Clinton to appear "with" Palin implies they are co-equals in speaking on Iran, which they are not. Palin barely knows whether Iran ends with an n or a q, or perhaps a k. So why would Clinton send that message? This is a partisan season. Duhhh.

Tim Matthewson - 9/22/2008

Professor Troy is capable of great insight, but on certain subjects he loses control. And one of those the Clintons, especially Hillary. On the occasions when he choses to write about her, he gives up all pretense of objectivity and instead opts for polemics and "red meat for true believers."

Kurt Reiger - 9/22/2008

Thanks for the thoughtful article. Perhaps the answer to your question is yes.

Michael Green - 9/22/2008

I find it disappointing that Professor Troy let his political views get in the way of trying to understand that what politicians do and say sometimes has to do with a broader range than what is happening that day. Does he honestly think that attending or not attending this event has anything to do with what Senator Clinton says and thinks about this issue? But the undertone is that she must attend this rally to prove her bona fides.