A rare word of praise for Senator Obama (MORE: HILLARY NO STRANGER TO PILING ON?)

Last night, I blogged about Team Hillary and her supporters phonily playing the victim card by portraying her as a poor lil’ defenseless woman being “ganged up on” by six men (well, actually it was only five, if you count John Edwards).

Today, I see Barack Obama is fighting back, accusing the Senator of hiding behind her gender:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democrat Barack Obama, the only black candidate for president, accused rival Hillary Clinton on Friday of hiding behind her gender after she was pummeled in a debate with six male candidates.

“I am assuming and I hope that Sen. Clinton wants to be treated like everybody else,” the Illinois senator said in an interview with NBC’s “Today Show.”

“When we had a debate back in Iowa awhile back, we spent I think the first 15 minutes of the debate hitting me on various foreign policy issues. And I didn’t come out and say: ‘Look, I’m being hit on because I look different from the rest of the folks on the stage’,” he said.

“I assumed it was because there were real policy differences there, and I think that has to be the attitude that all of us take. We’re not running for the president of the city council. We’re running for the presidency of the United States.”

He was speaking a day after New York Sen. Clinton — the only woman running for president — urged women voters to rally behind her against “the boys club of presidential politics.”

[…]

Obama noted on Friday that Clinton is widely viewed as a tough figure in national politics.

“So it doesn’t make sense for her, after having run that way for eight months, the first time that people start challenging her point of view, that suddenly she backs off and says: ‘Don’t pick on me’,” he said.

“That is not obviously how we would expect her to operate if she were president.”

Bravo, Senator Obama. Well said.

Now, I know he’d have never said anything about La Clinton hiding behind her gender had it been Republican men she had used the “poor me” defense on, but still … I’ll take the little victories where I can find them :D

Jake Tapper calls her “Little Miss Muffet” this morning.

Fred Thompson also took Clinton to task for playing victim:

“The Clinton campaign goes so far in relying upon her being a strong, strong woman … and then on a dime, they can switch to say, ‘Oh my goodness, the men are ganging up on her,” Thompson said, referring to the Clinton campaign’s latest message. “You can’t have that both ways in American politics and they’re just beginning to find that out.”

Thompson -– who has publicly responded to Clinton’s debate performance for the past two days -– called into Sean Hannity’s radio talkshow today and said he’s not “overly fixated on that personality,” but the majority of his airtime was spent discussing Clinton’s campaign.

Michelle Malkin makes a good point about how the GOP should approach Hillary’s “they’re ganging up on me” act:

The GOP has to be careful about addressing gender given how well Hillary’s doing with women voters, but they also need to head off the double standard he’s talking about here at the pass, and quickly. By bringing it up with Hannity, Fred’s trying to hand it off to the media and let them do the work. Shrewd.

This is one reason why I would have loved to see a strong Republican female run for president, just to see the Republican female calling Clinton out on this in even stronger terms than Obama and Fred! used.

It’ll be interesting to see how/if the media questions her directly on this issue, and how her supporters react to both Obama’s and Thompson’s comments respectively. I anticipate some double standards coming into play, of course …

More: Kathleen Parker writes about this at Townhall.com this morning: The Pants vs. the Pantsuit.

Update: The Associated Press reports about more questionable Clinton campaign supporters, a story we first read about from the LATimes (via Don Surber).

PM Update 1: The backlash keeps rolling in: Feminist Ruth Marcus sounds the alarm bells other liberal feminists should be about Clinton’s cowering woman act.

Looks like Hillary’s biggest blunder of the debate wasn’t her response to the question about Spitzer plan for illegals after all. Her biggest blunder came two days later – from her own campaign.

Bonus: Heck, I have to give props to (believe it or not) His Royal Phoniness for this gem of an ad on Hillary’s debate doublespeak:

(h/t: Kathryn Jean Lopez)

Read related thoughts from the Anchoress.

PM Update 2: Here’s a VERY interesting piece on Hillary from the AP’s Ron Fournier:

WASHINGTON – Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is looking for sympathy, support and political cover as her rivals show the temerity to run aggressively against the Democratic presidential front-runner. But don’t feel sorry for her — Clinton is no stranger to “piling on.”

In fact, she’s an expert at it.

Ask anybody who stood on the marble floor of the state Capitol rotunda in 1990 and heard the click, clack, click of her low-heeled shoes approach the news conference of Tom McRae, a mild-mannered public servant who had the nerve to challenge then-Gov. Bill Clinton of Arkansas for re-election.

“Tom!” the state’s first lady shouted. “I think we oughta get the record straight!”

McRae, a former Clinton appointee, stood a good chance of defeating the incumbent until Hillary Rodham Clinton sandbagged him. Holding a sheaf of papers, she crashed the news conference to undermine McRae’s measured criticism of her husband’s record.

“Many of the reports you issued not only praise the governor on his environmental record,” she said, “but his education and his economic record!”

McRae didn’t know how to respond without looking like a sexist bully. His candidacy was over. The Clintons’ dreams for re-election and the White House lived on.

The McRae massacre came to mind this week after the Democratic presidential debate, when Clinton essentially hid behind her pantsuit in response to a public shellacking like the one she gave McRae.

[…]

Clinton’s advisers, speaking on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss internal matters, said there is a clear and long-planned strategy to fend off attacks by accusing her male rivals of gathering against her.

The idea is to change the subject while making Clinton a sympathetic figure, especially among female voters who often feel outnumbered and bullied on the job.

As one adviser put it, Clinton is not the first presidential candidate to play the “woe-is-me card” but she’s the first major female presidential candidate to do it.

The victim is a familiar role for Clinton.

In her first run for the Senate, Republican rival Rep. Rick Lazio alienated many women voters when he strode across the stage in their first debate and demanded Clinton sign a pledge banning unregulated contributions known as “soft money” from her campaign.

Analysts considered the confrontation a turning point in the race, generating sympathy for Clinton while making Lazio look like a menacing bully.

I don’t think her helpless female act is going to work this time.

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