Chris Rock said it last month: "It’s going to be hard for Barack to be president. … Hillary’s not going to give up. She’s like Glenn Close in ‘Fatal Attraction.’"
Then NPR political editor Ken Rudin made the joke, saying on "CNN Sunday Morning" that Clinton was "Glenn Close in ‘Fatal Attraction’ — she’s going to keep coming back, and they’re not going to stop her." (Rudin later apologized.)
All were referring to Close playing the insane, deluded Alex Forrest — the wronged "other woman" who refuses to accept her fate and just go away, and becomes suicidal and homicidal. (And also rabbit-cidal.)
There is understandably a lot of sensitivity (and sometimes not enough sensitivity) when it comes to Clinton’s gender, Sen. Barack Obama’s race, and Sen. John McCain’s age.
The "Glenn Close in ‘Fatal Attraction’" analogy brings with it a whole carousel’s worth of baggage given the meme at the time of the release of "Fatal Attraction" that, as the late great Pauline Kael wrote in The New Yorker at the time, the "film is about men seeing feminists as witches."
"Fatal Attraction," Kael wrote, "parrots the aggressively angry, self-righteous statements that have become commonplaces of feminist fiction, and they’re so inappropriate to the circumstances that they’re proof she’s loco. They’re also the director Adrian Lyne’s and the screenwriter James Dearden’s hostile version of feminism."
No matter how you slice it, Alex Forrest was the movie’s villain, like Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers. I’d posit at the very least that it’s not keeping with Obama’s lofty campaign rhetoric to compare Clinton’s tenacity to psychosis. And it will indubitably further alienate women voters whom Obama needs to bring to his side once the Democratic race concludes.
UPDATE: Congressman Cohen’s office has issued an apology this evening. Cohen says, “I sincerely apologize for the comments I made about Senator Clinton’s campaign. I have great respect for Senator Clinton as a US Senator. She has waged an historic campaign which has done much to break the glass ceiling. My comments obviously do not reflect the sentiments of Senator Obama or the Obama campaign. Nor do they reflect my opinion of Senator Clinton whom I have known for years and admire. My hope is that our party will come together to work to defeat John McCain."