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Jewish World Review April 7, 2000/ 2 Nissan, 5760


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It's still Rudy's to lose -- I PUT ON an Al Gore mask last week and flipflopped my way through the Rudy-Hillary Senate race, wondering whether the Mayor had crossed the Rubicon with his incredibly stupid (even for him) reaction to the Patrick Dorismond killing.

Last Wednesday I thought of a pretty decent scenario to defeat Hillary. Giuliani would make a Hitler-Stalin pact with Gov. Pataki and trade hats: the Mayor would bow out of the Senate campaign, letting Pataki face the First Lady. The Governor, who's veered left in the last couple of years, is bland enough to defeat a woman with such high negative polling numbers. Then, when Pataki wins the election, he appoints Giuliani to fill out his term as governor, setting him up as the prohibitive favorite for 2002.

At the same time, while gritting his teeth as Mark Green takes over as mayor, Giuliani grooms Rep. Vito Fossella, an articulate Staten Islander, and one of the best, brightest young New York Republicans, to squash Green like the bug he is in the 2001 mayoral election.

By Friday, I'd decided that Rudy had raised so much money he might as well go through with the Senate exercise, even though his ambivalence gives him only a 50-50 shot at defeating Hillary. The Mayor's problem is obvious: although he's seemed to patch his latest breach of humanity, and his polling is going up again, you never know when he'll pull a Rudy. Which means he could be leading Hillary by five points just a week before Election Day and then do something stupid and blow it all.

Still, Giuliani's fundraising prowess caught most people by surprise-with his $19 million so far he's outpaced Hillary, when months ago most Democrats figured it would be the other way around-and provoked Bill Clinton to make a very dumb attack against the Mayor. Clinton, appearing at a fundraiser for his wife in Washington last Saturday (aside from mucking up foreign policy, what else does Clinton do but raise money, soft and hard, these days?), made the following incendiary remarks. "The only way they can win is to convince people that we're space aliens," Clinton told the assembled. I especially liked the emphasis on "we," as if Hillary needs people reminded that she's married to the president who'll go down in history somewhere between Warren G. Harding and Andrew Johnson.

He continued: "This is not a complicated deal, and that's why Hillary's opponent can raise a double-ton of money, besides being mayor and having special relations with a lot of those people who have it in New York."

What does that mean? Perhaps a reference to the mob? Otherwise it makes no sense since New York has been a mother lode for both Clintons-in fact for Gore and Bush as well-for collecting money.

But the President's most impolitic comment was this: "And you have the right-wing venom machine all geared up against her again." Please.

Right-wingers aren't exactly in tune with Giuliani's political stands: he's pro-choice, pro-gay rights, endorsed Mario Cuomo in '94 and, to get into Clinton's mindset, he's Eye-talian. Another strange remark by the Hillary Clinton campaign is that Giuliani won't release his fundraising letters. These solicitations aren't exactly a secret-I receive about one a week, just as I'm bombarded with missives from Hillary's campaign, the ACLU, the Sierra Club, the Republican National Committee and Amnesty International. It's called buying mailing lists and there's nothing suspicious about it.

Reporter Adam Nagourney's front-page editorial in The New York Times on Sunday suggested that Clinton is restless as a lame duck and might be doing his wife more harm than good with his hyperbolic comments. He wrote: "The remarks by Mr. Clinton, who has less than 10 months left in the White House, came at a time in which he has appeared increasingly tempted by the campaigning going on at the periphery of his presidency... Mr. Clinton is extraordinarily popular in New York, one of the first lady's aides noted last night, and thus may be in a particularly good position to take on Mr. Giuliani, who is far less popular than Mr. Clinton. That said, Mr. Clinton appeared with his remarks to risk diminishing Mrs. Clinton at a time when she has been trying to establish her own identity. She offered only perfunctory remarks at yesterday's fund-raiser. One of Mrs. Clinton's allies said yesterday that the episode might be portrayed as evidence that Mrs. Clinton, in making her first run for office, could not stand up for herself."

While that may be true, Hillary can count on the Times and other liberal vehicles to do her dirty work. In the April 3 issue of New York, columnist Michael Tomasky published a soft interview with Hillary in which he asked some pointed questions but let her promote her agenda without a challenge. Hillary said at one point: "I mean, if Rudy Giuliani won't represent all New Yorkers as mayor, then how is he going to represent the whole state in the Senate?" That's a specious argument that preaches to the converted: Is Hillary "going to represent the whole state" if she wins? Don't be silly. She won't represent all the people who vote against her brand of Big Government, entitlements, profligate spending and tax increases.

She also was beyond the pale in giving Giuliani a grudging pat on the back for making New York a safer place to live. She told Tomasky: "Well, the first thing I would say is that I don't deny that some good things have happened in the city. I love New York, you know, and the fact that many people who live here and work here are feeling better about this city I think is great. And I'm glad that he was mayor during a great economic boom that was contributed to in some great measure by the president's economic policies, and was given additional tools to fight crime. So he used the time well. And I applaud him for that."

Maybe Hillary's confused: I thought her husband was president the last seven years, not Alan Greenspan. And I'll bet that even in a less robust economy, Giuliani would've turned the city around and reduced crime. While it's true that the Mayor could use a cram course at Charm School, his detractors have blown the city's racial divide way out of proportion. A couple of weeks ago, in Manhattan, there was Clinton's wassup prayer buddy Jesse Jackson laying on the hyperbole, saying, "People are being killed in New York today just like they were in the South in the 60s." Please.

And in a letter to the editor in the April 10 New York, Duane Rochester writes: "As a young African-American man, I now have a better understanding of the fear Jews must have experienced in Nazi Germany while watching members of their community taken away, abused, and eventually murdered by the police."

JWR contributor "Mugger" -- aka Russ Smith -- is the editor-in-chief and CEO of New York Press ( Send your comments to him by clicking here.

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© 2000, Russ Smith