Hillary to Palin: Congrats!!

Hillary Clinton is back. And this time, it’s personal.

At least that’s the subtext of a statement just released by the Clinton press office:

We should all be proud of Governor Sarah Palin’s historic nomination, and I congratulate her and Senator McCain. While their policies would take America in the wrong direction, Governor Palin will add an important new voice to the debate.

If there were any lingering doubts as to the enthusiasm with which Hillary and Bill Clinton would campaign for Barack Obama—even after “That makes two of us”—let this put them to rest. Clinton is right, Sarah Palin’s nomination is historic. But what would be even more historic is if she won. And that just can’t be allowed.

Hillary has only started publicly describing her candidacy in historic terms since it ended. Fans were overjoyed to hear her speak about the legacy of women’s rights—and her role in it—in her concession speech in June. But even then, many of them weren’t comfortable with the idea of just any woman shattering the glass ceiling in which she had put “18 million cracks.” It had to be Hillary.

Sarah Palin’s nomination therefore isn’t a threat to Barack Obama—Hillary voters won’t flock to her for the same reasons they showed discomfort with Kathleen Sebelius. (Not to mention Palin’s pro-life beliefs and the rest of her conservative record.) Rather, she poses a threat to Hillary’s legacy. Palin has a good story but a thin résumé. She considers herself a feminist but hasn’t become a national symbol of feminism like Clinton. After Hillary’s loss and Obama’s decision not to consider her for veep, Palin in the White House would be the final insult. And, for Clinton, unacceptable.