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Jewish World Review Oct. 30, 2000 / 1 Mar-Cheshvan, 5761

Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg
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Consumer Reports

New Yorkers, media letting Hillary off the hook -- THE GOOD NEWS is that this may well be the last column I ever have to write about first lady Hillary Clinton.

The bad news is that it is still quite possible that there will be plenty of columns to come, about Senator Clinton and, heaven help us, President Hillary and (shudder) first gentleman William Jefferson Clinton.

And while I would rather spend eternity in the ninth circle of Hell with the cast of "Cats" than endure another Clinton presidency of any kind, the real tragedy is that Hillary may win her Senate bid by default. Right now, Rep. Rick Lazio and Hillary Clinton are in a statistical dead heat for the New York Senate seat.

This is good news for the forces of truth and light, considering that Hillary was up six to eight points just a week ago.

Alas, it's not great news because Lazio's standing hasn't actually improved at all. Rather, Hillary simply dropped in the polls, mostly because New York's indispensable Jewish community is rethinking a candidate famous for telling Palestinian audiences what they want to hear and for hugging Yassir Arafat's wife, minutes after she slandered Israel.

Still, if Hillary wins, three parties will share the blame. The first, of course, are New Yorkers. Honestly, I cannot figure out why this race is even close. The gestation period for an elephant is 22 months, which is apparently six months longer than it takes to incubate a New York senator.

In her year and a half in New York, Hillary Clinton has managed to dupe a sizable number of New Yorkers into believing that the candidate with the most "concern" is more worthy of being senator.

It remains a mystery to me why "concern" should matter more than being right. If I'm more "concerned" about the answer, does that mean 2 plus 2 can equal a chicken? Meanwhile, Lazio is a classic New York Republican softie with a solid record of "concern" - i.e. pork - for his constituents.

Besides, the only concern Mrs. Clinton has demonstrated is her concern with winning. If she actually cared for New Yorkers, one might find some evidence in the record that she gave a damn about the state prior to two years ago. There is none. Her health care plan was, by all accounts - including Sen. Pat Moynihan's - a terrible threat to New York hospitals.

The next party to blame is the Lazio campaign. For some reason, Lazio media strategist and non-New Yorker Mike Murphy, formerly of John McCain's campaign, can't get rid of his McCain playbook. Indeed, the Lazio campaign has at times seemed a summer stock performance of the McCain Broadway production - minus the success, enthusiasm, good press or star attraction. The key, after all, to the McCain campaign's success was McCain.

The first thing Murphy did when he signed on was launch the Lazio "Mainstream Express," which we were supposed to believe was entirely different from the McCain "Straight Talk Express." Lazio was also pushed, it seems, to make soft-money a major theme. As this didn't work for McCain, it shouldn't surprise that it didn't work for Lazio, either.

Murphy's done some things right to be sure, including encourage Lazio to be tough but fair with Clinton on her flip-flops, inconsistencies and considerable record of not having a real record. Unfortunately, disengaged New Yorkers aren't paying attention and Lazio can't educate voters on his own.

Which brings us to the third and most irresponsible of contributors to the potential Hillary victory: the mainstream press. Whatever happened to the notion that the New York media would eat Hillary alive? To date, Hillary has been asked no more than a few truly tough questions.

When the full report from the independent counsel's office came out last week, it made it clear that Mrs. Clinton lied under oath (causing New York Times columnist William Saffire to call Mrs. Clinton a "habitual prevaricator"). Mrs. Clinton refuses to answer any questions about it, saying, "I really have nothing to add to that."

In New York, she avoids the press at all turns, refuses to appear on any Sunday morning news show, and dismisses reporters when they occasionally break through. She was recently asked by journalist Deroy Murdock about whether she advised her husband to veto a recent U.N. resolution condemning Israel. She responded, "That question doesn't even deserve a response. I've said all I have to say about that."

That the New York media, New Yorkers generally and the Lazio campaign let her get away with such contempt is a scandal for which we all may have to pay the price.

To comment on JWR contributor Jonah Goldberg's column click here.


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10/16/00: Secrets of election can be found in 'Star Trek'
10/12/00: Arafat hardly 'provoked' into violence
10/10/00: Undecided voters may be ignorant, not discriminating
10/06/00: The importance of character isn't debatable
10/03/00: Conservatives are the true friends of science You know why?
09/29/00: Symbolic 'born alive' vote makes sense
09/25/00: Conservatives adopt abandoned liberalism
09/21/00: Ventura's media backpedaling makes fiction of his new book
09/18/00: Tough questions target Hillary Clinton's elitism
09/14/00: Hollywood morality to blame
09/11/00: Specifically, AlGore's detailed plan is meaningless
09/07/00: Time-honored tradition: Insult the press
09/05/00: Scouting out justice
08/30/00: The ADL's historical revisionism
08/28/00: Sitcoms will survive, post-"Survivor"
08/24/00: Candidates' choice of movies shows refreshing honesty
08/21/00: An AlGore victory? Only if dead birds fly
08/17/00: AlGore is doomed, but Dems ignore warning signs
08/15/00: Proud and true: He's a Jew
08/10/00: Exploiting religion would be tragic mistake
08/08/00: Cheney serves up tempting appetizer
08/03/00: Republicans now 'nice,' media still nasty
08/01/00: Presidential campaign could use some anti-metric mania
07/27/00: Government shouldn't subsidize Reform Party
07/25/00: Campaign finance 'reform' gives too much power to liberal media
07/20/00: Hillary slur speaks volumes
07/18/00: AlGore's McCarthyism
07/11/00: 'Survivor' shows hypocrisy of animal rights groups
07/05/00: McDonald's deserves a break today
07/03/00: On July Fourth, time to reflect on America's founding
06/28/00: America bashing becomes international pastime
06/23/00: If Fonda is sorry, let her say so
06/06/00: NAPSTER exposes artists' hypocrisy
04/18/00: Not much difference between TV journalists, TV actors

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