Hillary's big adventure

Wrong race: The first lady's claim to high public office should be built on a record closer to home.

June 12, 1999

HILLARY Rodham Clinton's quest for independent validation and a life after the White House is understandable, but it's not the job of New Yorkers to provide either.

The state's voters will be the final arbiters. But the nation and its commentators should pause before legitimizing the critical path to the U.S. Senate that seems to open periodically for national stars in search of a new constellation. Like Robert F. Kennedy, who had a blissful marriage of convenience with the Empire State, Mrs. Clinton asks to become a native daughter overnight.

Columnists and reporters -- not to mention Jay Leno, David Letterman and Rush Limbaugh -- though, are salivating at the prospect of a collision between:

Mrs. Clinton and combative New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, the likely GOP nominee.

Mrs. Clinton and the ghosts of Whitewater.

Mrs. Clinton and her inexperience.

Mr. Giuliani would take a zero-tolerance approach to Mrs. Clinton as an interloping Democratic pretender to the seat now held by Daniel Patrick Moynihan. If the mayor is not too shrill, his complaint may fall on receptive New York ears.

But some will see her as the best hope for derailing Mayor Giuliani.

That's all beside the point. Some may say that having ties to a district before running to represent it has lost its meaning in a fully wired, global society: Everybody lives everywhere all the time. Don't believe it. All politics is still local.

If Mrs. Clinton cares as much about public service as we think, she should pick another route to high public office. Why not stay in the District of Columbia, work for statehood and earn the right to run for the U.S. Senate? If she runs in New York, she'll be running on her husband's coattails.

Pub Date: 6/12/99

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