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Jewish World Review Oct. 19, 2000/ 20 Tishrei, 5761

Suzanne Fields

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Consumer Reports

The celebrity candidate -- NEW YORK CITY | Wanting what you can't have is only human, but it's a phenomenon perfected in New York. Only yesterday Rudy Giuliani was the Senate candidate everyone loved to diss.

Not now. If the election were held today, 49 percent of 600 likely voters polled for New York magazine say they would love to vote for the mayor. Only 42 percent would vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton.

This 7-point margin mirrors almost exactly the polling percentages in the race between Hillary and Rick Lazio, the actual Republican candidate. Only it's the first lady who appears to be coasting toward a victory next month.

Hillary has been campaigning nonstop for nearly a year, and it shows. She appears to have worn away a little of the emotional animus that dogs her everywhere she goes. Michael Wolff, writing in New York magazine, even sees the first lady as this generation's Richard Nixon: She won't ever escape the scorn of half the population because so many people see in her their own "dark side.'' The other half seems to think that's OK.

"Any conjecture, allegation, or accusation about Hillary becomes, if not the truth, a working metaphor,'' he writes. "What is the most wrenching, painful, shameful thing she could have done (or had done to her) to have gotten this far? She would have done it (or endured it), don't you agree?

"Not since Richard Nixon has the essential humanity (does she think what we think, feel what we feel, bleed what we bleed?) of a politician been so much the underlying issue.''

This is ironic, because Hillary's first real job out of Yale Law School was a position on the Senate committee studying the impeachment possibilities against Richard Nixon. So maybe the old schoolyard taunt, flung back at bullying accusers, is right: "It takes one to know one.'' (And my daddy can lick your daddy.)

Which brings us back to Rudy Giuliani. The tough, abrasive mayor who cleaned up the city that everyone assumed no one could ever make livable again, is probably still as tough and abrasive as he ever was, and that was enough to make a lot of New Yorkers grow tired of him. He wasn't showing nearly as well in the public-opinion polls last January as he shows today. But he was available then, and he isn't now, so naturally that makes him more attractive now.

Not with everybody, of course. Some of the Republican barons here in New York are sympathetic, but only up to a point, with his health concerns. They notice how healthy he looks, and how unhealthy Rick Lazio's numbers look. "He wanted to be a candidate for the Senate badly,'' the wisecrack goes, "and he got his wish, he is really a bad candidate.'' They grumble that if the mayor isn't history already he'll be history long before his term ends on New Year's Day 2002.

Even if he had lost, the barons generally agree, the mayor would have had a future in the party, perhaps as a candidate for governor two years hence. But now, though he is not yet 60, his history is over.

His health aside, His Honor may be more astute than his critics. When everyone was saying that Hillary's carpetbagger status would kill her in Gotham, the mayor might have known better. Hillary Clinton was actually made for New York. Besides, calling a Southerner, even a pseudo-Southerner from Illinois via Arkansas, a carpetbagger bends irony out of shape.

When New York magazine's pollsters asked 600 professionals from across the state for their impressions of the two Senate candidates, they got interesting answers. Reporters, editors and others from newspapers, TV stations, magazines and book houses like the first lady best by the expected overwhelming margin (62 to 25 percent). Despite her debacle with the health-care initiative, so do surgeons, physicians and various medical administrators (60 to 35 percent). Lawyers like her, and so do "fashionistas'' and Madison Avenue "hypesters.'' Only on Wall Street does Rick Lazio have more friends than the first lady, and there by only a razor-thin margin (54 to 52 percent).

The first lady, whatever her politics (still evolving, with the trademark Clinton self-interest always at the top of the agenda), is the perfect celebrity candidate, famous for being famous, and nowhere is this more appreciated than in the city that imagines itself to be the manufacturing center for celebrities and fashions. And what is fashion, after all, if not the yearning for something you can't have?


10/16/00: 'Ladies night' at the second debate
10/12/00: Gore vs. Bush: Volvo vs. Maserati
10/10/00: We weep for Rami for he is dead
10/05/00: Looking at Lieberman from inside the 'ghetto'
10/02/00: Campaigns, candidates, and kissy-face
09/28/00: Laughing and crying over Joe Lieberman
09/21/00: Targeting teenagers for money
09/21/00: Sexual politics in New York
09/18/00: Surviving the stereotypes and debates
09/14/00: Gloria Steinem runs cheerfully into captivity
09/12/00: Sex in the eye of the partisan
09/07/00: 'Sex and death' on the college campus
09/05/00: Joe Lieberman as a 'Menorah Man'
08/31/00: Rising suns of the conventions
08/17/00: Changing icons: From Loretta Young to Hillary Clinton
08/14/00: The Creator returns to the public square
08/10/00: Bursting with pride, but caution too
08/07/00: Brains, beauty and beastly politics
08/03/00: A candidate with a superego
07/31/00: The sizzling Lynne Cheney
07/27/00: The party of the aging Playboys
07/24/00 Hillary drives the Jewish wagon into a ditch
07/20/00 Conservatives gone fishin'
07/17/00: Snoop Doggy Dogg was a founding father, wasn't he?
07/13/00: When a teenager doesn't need a prime minister
07/10/00: Abortion as cruel and unusual punishment
07/06/00: Surviving 'survivor' TV
07/03/00: Independence Day with Norman Rockwell
06/29/00: Here comes 'something old'
06/26/00: Waiting too long for the baby
06/22/00: Good teachers, curious students and oxymorons
06/19/00: Wanted: Some ants for Gore's pants
06/15/00: Like father, like daughter
06/12/00: Culture wars and conservative warriors
06/08/00: Return of the housewife
06/05/00: Hillary and Al -- playing against type
05/31/00: The sexual revolution confronts the SUV
05/25/00: Waiting for the movie
05/22/00: Pistol packin' mamas
05/18/00: Journalists and the 'new time' religion
05/15/00: There's nothing like a (military) dame
05/11/00: 'The Human Stain' on campus
05/09/00: We've come a long way, Betty Friedan
05/04/00: From George Washington to Mansa Masu
05/01/00: Gore's ruthless doublespeak
04/28/00: Doing it Castro's way
04/24/00: Women's studies beget narrow minds
04/17/00: The slippery slope of anti-Semitism
04/13/00: A villain larger than life
04/10/00: When mourning becomes an economic tragedy
04/03/00: The last permissible bigotry
03/30/00: Seeking the political Oscar
03/23/00: The gaying of America
03/20/00: Pointy-eared quadrupeds on campus
03/16/00: The shocking art of the establishment
03/13/00: Sawdust on the campaign trail
03/10/00: Campaign rhetoric of manhood
03/06/00: The Amphetamine of the People
03/02/00: Elegy for Amadou
02/29/00: With only a million, what's a poor girl to do?
02/24/00: The changing politics of change
02/16/00: Tip from Hillary: 'Let 'em eat eggs'
02/10/00: No seances with Eleanor
02/07/00: Campaigning like our founding fathers
02/03/00: When neo-Nazis have short memories
01/31/00: George W. -- 'Ladies man' and 'man's man'
01/27/00: Dead white males and live white politicians
01/25/00: Smarting over presidential smarts
01/21/00: A post-modern song for `The Sopranos'
01/19/00: When personality is a long-distance plus
01/13/00: French lessons in amour --- and marriage
01/10/00: Reaching for the Big Golden Apple
01/07/00: Liddy Dole as the face of feminism
01/04/00: Hillary: From victim to victor
12/30/99: 'Dream catchers' for the millennium
12/27/99: In search of a candidate with strength and eloquence
12/21/99: The president as First Lady
12/16/99: Columbine with blurred hindsight
12/09/99: Homeless deserve discriminating attention
12/07/99: Casual censors and deadly know-nothings
12/02/99: Why mom didn't make general: A reality tale
11/30/99: Potholes on the road to the Promised Land
11/25/99: A feast for the spirit and the stomach
11/23/99: Fathers need to say 'I (can) do'
11/18/99: Adventures of a conservative pundit
11/15/99: Traveling with Jefferson on the information highway
11/11/99: Wanted: 'Foliage of forbiddinness' for the oval office
11/09/99: Eggs, art and rotten commerce
11/05/99: Al Gore, 'Alpha Male'. Bow wow.
11/01/99: Gay love
10/28/99: Lose one Dole, lose two
10/26/99: Rebels with a violent cause
10/21/99: Reforming parents, reforming schools
10/19/99: The male mystique -- he shops
10/13/99:The campaign of the Teletubbies
10/08/99: Money is in the eye of the art dealer
10/01/99: Lincoln's 'Almost Chosen People'
09/29/99: Introducing Bill and Hillary Bickerson
09/27/99: Must we wait for the next massacre?
09/24/99: Miss America meets Miss'd America
09/21/99: Princeton's 'professor death'
09/16/99: The Cisneros lesson
09/13/99: No clemency for personal politics
09/08/99: M-M-M is for manhood
08/30/99: Blocking the schoolhouse door
08/27/99: No kick from cocaine
08/23/99: Movies don't kill people
08/19/99: A rude awakening
08/16/99: Dubyah and that 'language' thing
08/09/99: Chauvinist sows -- oink oink

©1999, Suzanne Fields. Distributed by Los Angeles Times Syndicate