Archive for Thursday, February 18, 1999


February 18, 1999


The political pundits should forget about Hillary Clinton; 2000 definitely is not her year.

The pundits think they're onto something.

Hillary Clinton for Senate. Why not? She's a bright, ambitious woman with plenty of non-officeholder political experience. It's hard to imagine any candidate who would have better name recognition. Why shouldn't she run for the U.S. Senate from New York?

A better question might be: "Why would she want to?"

Political observers put forth several rationales. Some people believe Hillary Clinton should have been the candidate rather than the supporting player in this drama all along. Both those who admire her and those who degrade her often portray her as the driving force in this power couple. It does seem likely that Bill Clinton wouldn't have gotten as far as he has without her.

But what was her motivation? The recent portrayal of Hillary Clinton as the woman who chose to "stand by her man" rings a little hollow. It's hard to believe that a woman as savvy and perceptive as Mrs. Clinton didn't know what she was getting into when she hitched her wagon to Bill Clinton's star.

Some pundits are saying that a Hillary Clinton candidacy would get a huge boost from women voters who see her as a loyal wife whose husband did her wrong. This seems like a simplistic approach. Hillary Clinton may not have known all the details of her husband's dalliances, but she surely knew a thing or two about his general character. Was she simply willing to put up with the weaknesses in his personality in order to further her (and his?) political agenda? What does that say about her intelligence or character?

All of these questions add up to a lot of potential grief for a political candidate. There's no way Hillary Clinton would be able to escape the cloud of her husband's impeachment to run a serious campaign. Whether she remains loyal to Bill Clinton or divorces and discredits him, she won't be able to shake her association with him or the political baggage that goes with it.

Elizabeth Dole is considering a run for the presidency. She also is a political wife, but presumably if she mounts a campaign she will not be running directly away from the legacy of her husband, Bob Dole. She probably wouldn't exactly mirror his views, but neither would she feel compelled to disavow him entirely, as Hillary Clinton might.

But perhaps the most compelling consideration for Mrs. Clinton is self-preservation. Why would anyone who has been through what she has been through in the last several years want to step immediately back into the political fray?

It doesn't make any sense personally or politically. She should do herself and the country a favor and step out of the political spotlight in 2000.

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