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Jewish World Review /Feb 25, 1999 /8 Adar 5759

David Corn

What’s Next?

(JWR) --- (http://www.jewishworldreview.com) AT THE END OF The Truman Show, the whole planet breathlessly watches as Jim Carrey’s Truman Burbank, who has unknowingly lived his whole life on a television program, decides whether to leave the set and enter reality. When he steps off the giant soundstage, the most popular show in history is done. And in the movie’s last scene, a garage attendant, who’s been watching intensely with a coworker, looks at his bud and, without pause, says, "What else is on?"

There’s been much flipping since Henry Hyde & Co. skulked out of the Senate empty-handed. The mopping-up will continue for some time. Judge Susan Webber Wright, who presided over the Paula Jones case, raised the possibility that Bill might be held in contempt for dissembling during his Jones deposition. Kenneth Starr reportedly is pondering whether to indict the President. He also has four cases to try, two involving Webb Hubbell, one targeting Kathleen Willey’s onetime friend Julie Hiatt Steele and another against Susan McDougal.

But the thrill is gone.

Even MSNBC’s John Gibson, who unlike Keith Olbermann never seemed to tire of Monicagate, was last week telling Larry Klayman, the conservative legal activist who has filed 10,000 lawsuits against the Clintons, to hang it up.

How to fill the void? Thank God for Hillary Clinton: What better to keep the national soap opera alive. (Okay, maybe Clinton leaving Hillary for Monica Lewinsky.) Immediately the armchairs were overflowing with unofficial Clinton shrinks trying once more to divine the nature of this bizarre marriage. Pundits, myself included, assessed the odds of her campaign entry and success. There was much respectful chatter of her chances, buttressed by pleas from the Empire State.

Adultery has been good for Hillary Clinton: Her husband’s caddish behavior has won her sympathy, and embarrassment has given her a political future. Most of what could and needed to be said about her potential Senate bid was uttered within minutes of the story hitting Zeitgeist Central: She’s never run for anything... The New York media will carve her up... She’ll have problems being First Lady and a candidate... The New York Post pleaded with her to jump in and, to my surprise, its I-dare-you editorial appropriately zeroed in on the most telling episode in The Hillary Show: the commodities deal.

Those of you who can think back to the days before Monica will recall the 1994 revelation that years earlier Hillary, while first lady of Arkansas, parlayed an investment of $1000 in risky cattle futures into a net gain of $100,000. It was a wizard-like performance. It also was quite suspicious. Before we learned that the account was arranged by Clinton crony Jim Blair and managed by a firm with a questionable track record, Hillary had, by way of explanation, claimed she’d picked her own investments after perusing The Wall Street Journal—about as bold a lie as could be. It wasn’t a misstatement or a slip of memory: A person does not misremember something so memorable. No, Hillary was smothering the truth—whatever it was.

The self-righteous defender of the children and the poor had acted like a grubby yuppie, and she had not dared to expose her inner-insider. From that moment on, she proved she was a scoundrel. Forget all the Whitewater shenanigans, or her sellout of universal health-care coverage, the commodites deal provides sufficient information for rendering harsh judgment.

One, though, can hardly fault her for enjoying the Senator Hillary blather. She didn’t start this media mini-frenzy. The "Run, Hillary, Run" movement was launched when Sen. Robert Torricelli, who chairs the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, saw no Democrat who might be able to defeat Rudy Giuliani. So he went shopping for a brand name. The two men truly responsible, however, for the feverish speculation about Hillary are ex-Gov. Mario Cuomo and Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the retiring senator whose seat HRC is eyeing. It’s only because the New York State Democratic Party is so enervated that New York Dems have had to look beyond the Fresh Kills dump for a candidate to joust with Giuliani.

When Cuomo was governor, he did little to build and bolster the party. He led no effort to win over the state Senate. He developed no bench. He wanted to share the limelight with no one. And Moynihan has never been much of a party man—and by that I don’t mean party hack, but a politician who nurtures a strong and vibrant party structure. Moynihan hails erudition over organization. Chuck Schumer did oust Al D’Amato in November, but that was less a sign of Democratic resurgence than testament to the power of $20 million. For New York Democrats, recruiting Hillary is a shortcut; they’re substituting celebrity for party organization.

In Washington, much of the early and cheap talk held that Hillary would win with ease. John McLaughlin tried to convince me that if she flees DC for New York, Giuliani will show his tail and duck out of the race. But what choice does Giuliani have? He’s term-limited out of City Hall at the end of this term. He’s not foolish enough to mount a kamikaze run against Gov. Pataki.

There’s not going to be room on the national ticket for an abrasive, do-it-my- way little dictator. He can hope a Republican wins the White House and invites him to be attorney general, but the only way he can control his political future is to chase after Moynihan’s Senate seat. If he lets this opportunity pass, he could be frozen out of New York politics. Moreover, he can run strong against Hillary. No Democrat can win statewide without whomping the Republican in the city, and Giuliani remains the hometown kid. Last week—long after Giuliani pissed off whoever he is going to in New York and long before Hillary has submitted herself to the rigors of a campaign—her lead was but eleven points in the polls. Remember, Bobby Kennedy had a difficult time beating Sen. Kenneth Keating in 1964, and he was the brother of a martyred president. Hillary is merely the wife of a louse and a partner-in-lying.

I hope Hillary tosses her halo into the ring. What else is on?

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JWR contributor David Corn is the "Loyal Opposition" columnist at New York Press. Send your comments to him by clicking here.

©1999, NY Press.