Shiny, Happy People

Editorial Notebook

The 2000 elections are already being hailed as the most important of our generation. Control of the White House and both chambers of Congress is up for grabs, as well as influence over the nominations of several Supreme Court justices. Nowhere is the urgency of the moment played up more than in New York, where the upcoming Senate race has already become a celebrity death match of sorts. Hillary Clinton and Rudolph Giuliani may as well announce their intentions to run for the Democratic and Republican senatorial nominations, respectively, because they have been in the race for quite a while already.

For the last few months both candidates have been deftly avoiding questions about running for office, while pushing their own credentials--should they want to run, of course. They have appeared on the talk shows platforms for human rights (Clinton) or school reform (Giuliani), universal health care (Clinton) or the benefits of immigration (Giuliani).

Both have mentioned how they would love to serve their country as United States Senator. How wonderful democracy is! Wait a minute. Neither Hillary Clinton nor Rudy Giuliani is an innocent entrant into politics. Both are die-hard veterans, with Clinton's having been a central player in the spin-cycling, rumor-floating, telegenic Clinton White House and Giuliani on the defense for his conniving measures against pedestrians and taxi drivers and his lackadaisical response to rising police brutality. And they are certainly not immune from the dirty work involved in campaigning. Clinton went on talk shows to talk about the vast, right-wing conspiracy engulfing the President, her husband. She sent recorded telephone messages to thousands of women all over the country so they would vote Democratic in the 1998 elections. Giuliani, too, ran likable Big Apple mayor David Dinkins into the ground during them 1993 mayoral election with vicious ads and hard campaigning.

Plus, there are signs that the race will really start heating up. Giuliani supporters have unveiled a site called HillaryNo.com, demanding that the First Lady not run because of her distinctly non-New York roots. Labeled a carpetbagger because she has spent most of her life in Illinois and Arkansas, they claim she is unfit for the Senate or the people of New York. When Hillary volunteered to be the Principal For A Day in a New York City public school (why New York? hmmm), she used the opportunity to lambaste Giuliani's desire to blow up the school system and institute school vouchers. Giuliani promptly scheduled his own Principal For A Day, replete with extensive media coverage.

Still, we're talking about New York, and, at the end of the day, bright lights and big titles matter. Your husband, the most powerful man in the world, had sex with an intern? Don't worry about it! Your police department is known for roughing up innocent civilians? Hey, no problem! It's all taken in stride in the rough-and-tumble world of New York politics. Just ask Al D'Amato. Empire State voters should simply understand that their likely candidates for the 2000 Senate seat are far from saintly. But maybe they like it that way.

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