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Hillary Clinton vs. Sarah Palin 2012: Can You Imagine Who Would Win That One?

Sarah Palin is a popular media creation, but the public doesn't think much of her as presidential timber. Let's keep that in mind.

OK, picture this: unexpectedly Hillary Clinton runs in the next Democratic presidential primary and wins. Sarah Palin wins in the GOP primaries too, holding off a bevy of Republican men. In 2012, there is a presidential race between these two women. Do we have any doubt who would win that race? Hillary Clinton, and it wouldn't be close. Tell that to Rebecca Traister, Anna Holmes and the New York Times.

Traister and Holmes wrote an oped for the New York Times on Sunday that got a lot of attention and provoked some major consternation. In the piece, they seem to be claiming that Sarah Palin is a new kind of superwoman, transcending anything Democrat women have to offer; that Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton have failed in the face of this powerful "mama grizzly," and that this failure (which the authors, in my opinion, have totally concocted) is to be blamed on "the left" (whoever they/we are).

About Sarah Palin's super success, the authors write: "The left should be outraged and exasperated by all this — but at their own failings as much as Ms. Palin’s ascension. Since the 2008 election, progressive leaders have done little to address the obvious national appetite for female leadership. And despite (or because of) their continuing obsession with Ms. Palin, they have done nothing to stop an anti-choice, pro-abstinence, socialist-bashing Tea Party enthusiast from becoming the 21st century symbol of American women in politics."

Wow, it turns out it is possible to live in the same country and see things entirely differently. These authors are so enamored of Sarah Palin, it seems they have been reading and watching too much of the media of which they are a part: "But as women of a different generation — of, gulp, Sarah Palin’s generation — we wonder if Democrats shouldn’t look to her for twisted inspiration, and recognize that the future of women in politics will be about coming to terms with (and inventing) new models."

So, Sarah Palin is popular as what exactly? A Fox commentator? A provocative Twitterer? An endorser in small Republican primaries in conservative states where maybe 15 or 20 percent of voters participate? Maybe. But she is certainly not popular as a powerful, trusted woman who is going to lead this country. Being a sometimes confused Fox commentator is not the same as being Secretary of State.

Let's start with a recent article, headlined, "Clear Majority Says Palin Not Qualified to be President": 

Two days after Sarah Palin fired up a large crowd at Glenn Beck's Restoring Honor rally in Washington, a newly released survey suggests a clear majority of Americans don't think the former vice presidential nominee has the right credentials to be president. According to the new survey from Vanity Fair and CBS News' 60 Minutes, only 1 in 4 of all adults thinks Palin is qualified to be commander-in-chief while 60 percent say she is not. And she is not even popular among conservatives: By a narrow 47-40 percent margin however, Republicans do feel Palin has the right stuff to be president. But self identified conservatives – constituting the segment of the GOP largely thought to most favor the former Alaska governor – are essentially split 41-40 percent on her abilities to govern the country.

Now, Hillary Clinton was almost nominated to be the first female presidential candidate in history. It was extremely close. She came on very strong at the end, winning a slew of states. Barack Obama was able to hang on, but just barely, and mostly due to some early very smart tactics in caucus states. Very few Americans would dispute Hillary Clinton's ability to lead the country. And at this point, as tough as things are, and as disappointed as many are with Barack Obama's leadership -- a kind of political buyer's remorse -- my guess is she would be very popular if she ever decided she wanted to run.