- The Washington Times - Monday, October 2, 2000

Hillary Rodham Clinton has a lot going for her in the New York senatorial race and is using it well and adroitly. She has world fame, the power, staff and machinery of the White House, a strong, unsurrendering spirit, and the Bill-Hilly team that has become the most dauntingly effective money-raising operation in American political history.
And she has luck. She is running against Rick Lazio, a good Republican candidate but who has had months less campaigning time than she because he got in only after prostate cancer made Mayor Rudy Giuliani drop out.
What's more, if she wins she senatorial seat she has the possibility of a future that would reach beyond New York state back to the White House, no more first lady but first person, the presidency itself. She is just as clever as her husband, clever good and clever bad, and with a self-control that makes him look like a pubescent boy.
If you think the idea of Sen. Hillary nominated for president is a laugh, you may have lots of smile-wiping to do at Convention time eight years from now.
Even if she is not nominated for the presidency, the vision of its possibility gives her additional personal strength, leverage and money scoopage in New York and way beyond.
But what do you know with all the fame, power and future-vision she has, Hillary Rodham Clinton might very well lose the senatorial election. The polls put her ahead but not enough to make her or her supporters the least bit smug. Mr. Lazio's Republican and independent backers are intelligently and increasingly hopeful.
One reason for the Lazio strength is that as a three-term member of the House of Representatives, he has proven his electability in New York state. He is more sophisticated about its needs than her earnest boning up made her. At least she has learned to stop saying "we New Yorkers."
The press and Clintonites had convinced some New Yorkers that a good-looking man of 42 with a moderate conservative congressional record had to be some kind of lightweight. The state knows better now.
Reason No. 2: By taking a few steps toward Mrs. Clinton during their only debate, Mr. Lazio accomplished more for the American political ethic in a few seconds than she can show for decades of war room politicking and first ladying. On that brief walk, he held out a paper pledging them both to forgo soft money. Some women say he was too forward and invaded Mrs. Clinton's platform space. If a candidate is horrified and frightened at the sight of an opponent walking a few feet toward her, now is the time to figure out some other way to make a living.
But Mrs. Clinton is much too strong to be frightened; she was flustered, upset and nervous, and showed all three.
She had said before that she didn't like soft money contributions political parties can use without limit on the amount of donations. The money buys ads that promote party candidate so long as they don't come out and say "vote for our man." It is a legalized scam.
Mrs. Clinton dithered and slithered for a week before she agreed, kind of. Then out West she flew so she and her husband could sweep up for other Democratic candidates the same contributions of soft money she had agreed with Mr. Lazio, on paper, were not for New York candidates to collect for themselves.
In themselves, making speeches and spending eight years in the White House do not a senator make not if the speeches are void of intellectual inspiration and the White House work is without accountability or public knowledge.
Mrs. Clinton and her husband have an endless supply of gall. They said in 1992 that if Mr. Clinton were elected president, America would get two for one, ignoring that this was not what the Constitution had in mind. Mrs. Clinton began acting as a kind of deputy president with unofficial authority over many Cabinet members.
Then, secrecy, another Clintonian characteristic larger in her than in him made her fall on her face. The president gave his wife control over drawing up the Clinton health plan. She ran the meetings so tightly and so secretively that they collapsed entirely and killed any good bill until until who knows when.
But she picked herself up, as years later she had to do from the scandals with which her husband decorated the White House. She built a secret compartment of power for herself in the White House.
Publicly, however, she presented herself in an entirely different role first nanny of the nation. But she had her own almost paranoid enemy list like the national right-wing network she conjured up and charged had cooked up the story about that other woman in the Oval Office.
Intelligence, self-control, desire for power, education, skill in politics, loving mother, presidential possibility, large loyal following, together make her a symbol to many of women's progress.
Never elected, never appointed, secretive, crossing the line between planning and scheming, taking authority without accountability, together make her a symbol of advancement by wedding ring.
Two lists, one choice.

A.M. Rosenthal, the former executive editor of the New York Times, is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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