- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 26, 2000

''We believe," the New York Times writes this week in its editorial endorsement of Hillary Rodham Clinton for Senate, "that Mrs. Clinton is capable of growing beyond the ethical legacies of her Arkansas and White House years." Fascinating.

While every newspaper is entitled to its opinion, the Times' endorsement raises some truly interesting questions.

First: Who came up with that air freshener of a euphemism, "ethical legacies," for an unfaltering career of grasping manipulation and outlaw opportunism stretching back 30 years? The newspaper goes on to list, delicately, some of the "concerns" voters may harbor about the first lady. There is the "investigative literature" sounds like a lit. course on all those Clinton scandals, "replete with evidence" that Mrs. Clinton has a "lamentable tendency to treat political opponents as enemies." Lamentable, indeed. Just ask Juanita Broaddrick or Billy Dale how "lamentable" that "tendency" is.

The newspaper ventures to note that Mrs. Clinton "has clearly been less than truthful in her comments to investigators." Less than truthful? The last time Mrs. Clinton's sworn statements came under investigation, most recently in the Travelgate report released last week, Independent Counsel Robert Ray tagged them not "less than truthful," but "factually false."

The newspaper also clucks over Mrs. Clinton's tendency "to follow President Clinton's method of peddling access for campaign donations." Who said she was "following" him?

But get this: "Her fondness for stonewalling in response to legitimate questions about financial or legislative matters contributed to the bad ethical reputation of the Clinton administration," the editorial continues. "If" if "she should choose to carry these patterns and tendencies into the Senate, her career there could be as bumpy and frustrating and ultimately, as investigated as her White House years." Ergo, vote for Hillary.

The editorial tries to balance out the very, very bad with something more positive. For example: "She outdid her opponents in visiting the state's 62 counties." (Really, that's what it says.) "Through the collection of firsthand stories, she learned about economic deprivation, energy costs, taxes, health crises, and troubled schools." Just imagine: She learned all that, and she's just a candidate for the U.S Senate. No wonder the New York Times dubs her "an unusually promising talent."

But amid its enthusiasm for what it terms Mrs. Clinton's "sophisticated vision of the world," and, perhaps more important to its editors, her potential vote to "guard against Supreme Court nominees who would compromise the constitutional right [sic] to abortion," the New York Times puts something more than Mrs. Clinton's record on display: its own disregard of the crucial importance of seeking democratic leaders who will uphold the law, not undermine it by endlessly flouting and skirting it. Even as the editorial lists just a handful of the damning character flaws that have long marked Mrs. Clinton's public life, it discounts them, weighing them as just so many ordinary pros and cons rather than the uniquely weighty disqualifiers that they should be.

"We are placing our bet on her to rise above the mistakes and difficulties of her first eight years in Washington," the paper concludes. Why? There is a lifetime of evidence riding against just such a bet.

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