In the jargon of their profession, I suppose news anchors have a name for the last question in an interview. I do not know what they call it, but it appears to be a kind of “free” question off-topic from the boilerplate nature of the body of the interview. If you watched Secretary Clinton on the Sunday talk show circuit this past weekend, you saw her answering pretty much the same questions on the same subjects on all three shows, but at the end, each interviewer threw in a “free” question. Schieffer asked her about airport pat downs (a coup for him, I thought – the cable and network news are still looping that clip). Wallace, lamely I thought, asked her about running for president, and Gregory asked her about Sarah Palin. Here is how it went.
QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, before I let you go, I have to ask you this just as a political observer. What do you make of what happened on election day? And all this talk about Sarah Palin – when I interviewed you a while back, you said you’d be willing to sit down and have coffee with her. She may be someone who is in a position to try to equal what you accomplished in the political arena. What advice might you give her and what do you make of what’s happened politically?
SECRETARY CLINTON: You know, David, the best thing about being of Secretary of State is representing the United States around the world, but the second best thing is I’m out of politics. So with all due respect, I am not going to comment on the political scene right now other than to say that I’m focused on making the case to 67-plus senators in the Senate to pass the START treaty because that, to me, is the most important task facing the Senate and it goes way beyond politics.
QUESTION: And here I thought I’d lulled you into a moment of candor. (Laughter.) Secretary Clinton, thank you very much, as always.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, David.
Given an opportunity to remark about Palin, Hillary Clinton gracefully danced around the question, and put her agenda out in front instead, refocusing the moment, and the end of an interview is a powerful moment, on New START, a formidable product of her tenure at State.
I have seen Hillary do this before. Remember back in 2008? She was asked about a “lipstick” comment that had been made about Palin and responded, “I like lipstick. I use it, but let’s fix our financial institutions.” (Something like that – probably not her exact words.)
So I was befuddled as to why someone whom Hillary Clinton has taken pains NOT to attack has chosen to launch an unprovoked attack on her. With the release of Palin’s book today came some excerpts, and this one, for me, is the final straw.
[Palin] says she admires Hillary Clinton, but that her “baking cookies” remarks sounded like “someone frozen in an attitude of 1960s-era, bra-burning militancy.”
It is more than harsh. It is an unwarranted, gratuitous, unilateral attack. Unlike many of us in her generation, Hillary Clinton did not choose the militant route. While we were shouting at demonstrations, she was studying law. She was a singularly focused young individual who saw some things that needed to be changed and pursued a route that would equip her to address them. She was and still is a very disciplined person who found her time better spent in the library than carrying a poster.
I am not disparaging what the rest of us did. Ultimately, we did, I believe, make America aware of the reasons why we needed to withdraw fron Viet Nam and of the inequities in the culture. We were noisy while Hillary was quietly studying in the library.
So to brand her with a descriptor like “bra-burning militancy” is not only inaccurate, but completely uncalled for since Hillary has not said anything unkind or untoward about Palin.
She has called Hillary a whiner when she herself has whined about her treatment. Now she brands her unfairly as something she never was.
More than so many of my generation, Hillary Clinton has always been goal-oriented and on-task. For someone who was not even there to witness the era to brand her this way over a remark she made to explain her personal choice is unacceptable and mean.
This is it, Sarah. You have crossed the line with me. I will never defend you again. The next time I go to B.J.’s I will be turning your pile of books face down and putting a few copies of James Patterson on top so no one will know your book is there.
I dare anyone to tell me I am unfair in calling Sarah Palin on this base and baseless shot at my Homegirl. She had no reason to talk about Hillary at all. Hillary does not talk about her.