Elizabeth Edwards is making news again. Hillary Clinton has been accused of a lot of things, but too manly is usually not one of them. This time the wife of John Edwards leveled her barrels at Senator Clinton in a Salon interview.

I think one of the things that make me so completely comfortable with [helping the campaign] is that keeping that door open to women is actually more a policy of John’s than Hillary’s.

On the issues that are important to women, she has not … well, healthcare, that’s enormously important to women, all the polls say, and what she says now is, we’re going to have a national conversation about healthcare. And then she describes some cost-saving things, which John also supports, but she acts like that’s going to make healthcare affordable to everyone. And she knows it won’t. She’s not really talking about poverty, when the face of poverty is a woman’s face, often a single mother. She gave that speech on abortion a few years ago [saying abortion should be “safe, legal and rare”].

Look, I’m sympathetic, because when I worked as a lawyer, I was the only woman in these rooms, too, and you want to reassure them you’re as good as a man. And sometimes you feel you have to behave as a man and not talk about women’s issues. I’m sympathetic — she wants to be commander in chief. But she’s just not as vocal a women’s advocate as I want to see. John is. And then she says, or maybe her supporters say, “Support me because I’m a woman,” and I want to say to her, “Well, then support me because I’m a woman.” The question is not so much how she campaigns — that’s theater. The question is, what does her campaign tell you about how she’ll govern? And I’m not convinced she’d be as good an advocate for women. She needs a rationale greater for her campaign than I’ve heard. When she announced her candidacy she said, “I’m in it to win it.” What is that? That’s not a rationale. Same with Senator Obama — I’ve yet to hear a rationale. John is extremely clear about what he can accomplish and why he’s the one to do it.

I don’t think we should muddle the language. Yes, we have to be able to talk to someone who’s squeamish about it, but the question really is, who should make the decision? And it has to be the woman. Hillary may be expressing exactly what she believes — I hope she is — but the wiggle room in what she says makes me feel uncomfortable. I don’t think she has found the best way yet to explain her position to move the people who are squeamish.

[Elizabeth Edwards interview in Salon]

In my view, there is no question that Hillary Clinton is trying to act tough. She is acting as tough as she possibly can on foreign policy, something that is getting her in trouble with her constituents on the left. And she is avoiding so-called women’s issues.

Apparently polls have told her camp that Americans will accept a woman president if she is not perceived as acting too soft. And I do mean “acting.” One thing the Clintons will never be accused of is having principles grounded in substantive character. Everything is a political calculation for Hillary.