- The Washington Times - Friday, July 7, 2000

Rick Lazio finally trumpeted the truth about the New York Senate campaign this week then promptly muted it, revealing, among other things, a disheartening ignorance or, worse, disregard of the historic role chance and luck have bestowed on him.

The clarion call came from a new Lazio campaign fund-raising letter that says, "Hillary Clinton and her husband have embarrassed our country and disgraced their powerful posts." Gee and the sun rises in the east. If ever there were a self-evident truth, this one about the legacy of Clintonism is it. In fact, it is difficult to find more exacting terminology to describe the nearly eight years of historic degradation Bill and Hillary Clinton have together inflicted on the American public with malfeasance great and small, with misconduct outrageous and repulsive, all carried out against the unrelenting rush of an incessant flow of lies.

In other words, Rick Lazio would have been rock solid on terra firma when quizzed by reporters this week. But no. The Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate from New York said, "Frankly, these letters are not written by me. I'm not disowning it, but they're not written by me. I just think this is a huge smoke screen." Without pausing to explain how the simple truth could possibly be a "smoke screen," Mr. Lazio continued: "That's not part of our media campaign," he said. "That's not what I'm talking about on the stump. I just think it's incredibly unfair to try to characterize the message of a campaign based on a phrase in a solicitation letter." Then, finally, as reluctant as he was defensive, he added, "I just think that both Mrs. Clinton and the president have got pretty significant liabilities that are well-known by the public."

So much for the stirring oration. What Mr. Lazio seems to be missing is the fact that this race is no garden-variety referendum on whether New York's junior senator will be a far-left Democrat or a liberal Republican. It has a greater, indeed, an historic significance. As much if not more than the presidential race, the New York Senate race is a referendum on Clintonism, a word that evokes no philosophical principle but rather a mode of governing designed to preserve power at any cost, from misleading voters to smearing opponents. In the state of New York, it is Rick Lazio, a congressman from Suffolk County, to whom the job has fallen to turn back this terrible creed a daunting task, to be sure, but once taken on, nothing to shrink from. Mrs. Clinton calls Mr. Lazio's letter a "personal insult" a peculiar reaction. To be sure, the truth about the Clintons is ugly. But it must be confronted, by voter and candidate alike, in order to determine in November whether Clintonism will continue to be a true reflection of the American people.

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