Can Hillary Clinton Derail the Sarah Palin Express?

04/24/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The phenomenon that is Sarah Palin seems to be gathering momentum like a runaway train. Mortified Democrats hope she's a runaway train wreck. But Palin's fanatical supporters are convinced she is simply getting to the White House that much faster.

She has made enough mind-boggling public gaffes to sink twenty careers -- and grown stronger. Democrats look hopefully to the latest polls, which suggest that, while she may be winning the popularity contest, voters are losing confidence in her as presidential material. Even so, she remains a genuine threat to the Obama administration and Democratic candidates across the country. It was Palin, after all, who helped derail Obama's health care reform bill after her "death panel" accusation. It was also Palin who helped politicize the global warming debate, by pointing to emails she claimed proved the whole thing was a liberal conspiracy in which Democrats somehow played a role. Her relentless mocking of Obama initiatives has emboldened Republican and conservative opposition, which noticed that "Obama bashing" is an effective political tool for winning support without offering any actual alternative solutions.

As a result, for Democrats, defusing this ticking political time bomb is Priority Number One. However, the question remains as to the best person to do this. Joe Biden has a tendency to put his foot in his mouth and could easily do more harm than good. Obama himself cannot afford to attack her directly -- that would give her too much credibility. He is also a Harvard Law School graduate and, worse, like Biden, he is man. Palin would take every opportunity to construe whatever criticism he makes of her as evidence of his intellectual elitism and misogynistic streak.

The job falls, therefore, to a woman, and the only woman in the current political arena more powerful than the speeding locomotive that is Sarah Hillary Clinton. A criticism of Palin that might sound mean-spirited from Obama would be a clean smack-down from Hillary. As a speaker, when tightly scripted, Palin is a charmer, but her tight skirt and high heels are no match for Clinton's pantsuit and comfortable walking shoes.

The Hurt Locker
And when it comes to a fight, Hillary can pack a wallop. She is a hardened political soldier who has crawled through the blood and gore of the Washington battlefield to emerge as the most powerful woman in the United States -- if not the world. That is why, during her campaign for the Democratic nomination, her "take no prisoner" mentality made her a formidable rival for Obama. Although she lost, she forced him to acknowledge her 18-million-voter support base. He would not be president today if she had not endorsed him. And she is Secretary of State because of that.

And Obama would be doing Hillary a favor. She isn't exactly thrilled that her job takes her away from the front line of national affairs, often to the point where Americans forget she is still around. She would therefore relish an opportunity to get back in the game and grab some headlines again. She has nothing to lose and everything to gain. If she fails, she simply fades back into her job and moves on with her life. If she successfully neutralizes Palin, it will practically guarantee her nomination as the Democratic Presidential candidate for 2016. Don't rule it out. She is not one to go gently into that good night.

Palin's glass jaw is that she can criticize others, but she does not take criticism well. In the political arena, Hillary can take a world of hurting and come back at you with a ferocity that leaves you breathless.