- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 18, 2000

She came, she listened, she was nominated. While it may not have had that Caesarean lan, there was something imperial and a little Evita-esque about Hillary Rodham Clinton's coronation this week in Albany, N.Y., where she accepted the nomination of the Democratic Party for U.S. senator. The self-consciously scripted event the words "History in the Making" were written across the lectern was a ceremonial one, a staged show of political theater before 11,000 cheering Democrats. The president, after much internal debate over whether his presence would be more disruptive than his absence, made a walk-on cameo to great applause. Retiring Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan took center stage to bid his official adieu to the state party (barely mentioning Mrs. Clinton) to great applause. And Mrs. Clinton, hailed by Sen. Chuck Schumer with a generosity bordering on profligacy as "one of the great and inspiring leaders of our era," was climactically nominated, also to great applause.

Despite these star turns, the dramatic energy of the evening was in Manhattan, where the Hamlet of City Hall, Rudy Giuliani, continued to ponder his political course. Such scene-stealing did not escape notice. Even the New York Times editorial page found it "odd" that Mrs. Clinton's "moment of adulation … should be overshadowed by suspense over Mr. Giuliani's future." But given the unique nature of the first lady's quasi-ceremonial candidacy, it is not so very odd at all.

While the conservative New York Post might be expected to point out, editorially speaking, how "singularly barren" Mrs. Clinton's resume is in comparison, for example, to Mr. Moynihan's career of accomplishment (reprised in a convention tribute), or how she has failed to express "anything remotely resembling an original thought" that might distress a Democratic power-broker or union boss, it's worth noting that even the liberal New York Times' dispatch from Albany described Mrs. Clinton's 39-minute acceptance speech as a "laundry-list presentation" of Democratic positions that was "notably unadventurous," and similar to the grab-bag recitations her husband offers at State of the Union time. The unmistakable aspect of hollowness to Mrs. Clinton's candidacy must partly explain the continuing tug of the political compass toward Mr. Giuliani, even on her biggest night of the race.

Then there is the melodrama of Mr. Giuliani's life itself. Facing a life-or-death battle with cancer and a heart-and-soul-baring dissolution of his marriage, Mr. Giuliani must make his choice, to run or not to run, and quick, as state Republicans grow anxious to end the political limbo before the New York Republican convention on May 30. Even the polls seem to hang in the balance. This week's Quinnipiac poll, for example, shows Mrs. Clinton and the mayor in virtually the same dead heat (44-43 percent) they ran in a May 1 poll (46-44 percent). As one political consultant quipped to the New York Times, "He has no choice but to run. This is not the Duke of Windsor giving up the throne for the woman he loves."

Meanwhile, consider a Zogby poll of April 29 pitting Mrs. Clinton against six non-Rudy Republicans from New York, including the popular Gov. George Pataki, a handful of U.S. representatives, and lesser-known officials. In gauging the preference of New York voters for a Clinton opponent (Mr. Pataki by a landslide), the Zogby pollsters made a significant finding. Of the group, only Mr. Pataki actually edges Mrs. Clinton, 46.6 to 43.9 percent. (Against Mr. Lazio, who is likely to run in Mr. Giuliani's absence, Mrs. Clinton leads 48.3 to 34.6.) But even against the little-known likes of Westchester County District Attorney Jeanine Pirro, for example, Mrs. Clinton's numbers remain in the same range, the mid-to-upper 40s, only once even touching 50 percent. In other words, against any Republican who stands on two legs, Hillary Rodham Clinton's share of the vote remains roughly the same. It is the undecideds, of course, who fluctuate and determine the outcome. Come to think of it, that goes for Rudy Giuliani.

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