Slick Hilly Is At It Again

Has Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton already worn down New

Yorkers’ sense of outrage? Have her constituents already accepted that a

certain level of corruption, dishonesty and narcissism is the price of doing

business with the new junior Senator? In

the five short months since she was elected, Mrs. Clinton has accumulated

a string of unseemly dealings which would do former Senator Al D’Amato

proud-and which show in what low esteem Mrs. Clinton holds her adopted state. A

tainted $8 million book contract, the involvement of her brother in a clemency

deal for a drug trafficker, her own involvement in her husband’s pardoning of

four men who stole $40 million of government money intended for schoolchildren-if

this is the honeymoon period, what can we expect from the next six years?

Now comes word that Slick Hilly has chosen a Manhattan

office which costs far more than that of any other U.S. Senator. The rent of

$514,149 is more than two and a half times what Senator Charles Schumer pays

for his office down the block. Why did Mrs. Clinton feel that taxpayers should

pony up $65 a square foot for her office at 780 Third Avenue, when most space

in that neighborhood rents for $53 a square

foot? And why did she need 7,900 square feet, when Senator Schumer is

doing just fine with 3,900 square feet? She already has a mini-castle in

Washington, D.C., and an empty million-dollar home in Westchester; now she is

using government money to establish a political base for future campaigns. It’s

not a good sign when a new Senator blows 

a half-million dollars of taxpayers’ money a year for her own sense of

status. An aide to Mrs. Clinton, Jim Kennedy, gave

a clue to his boss’ priorities when he told the New York Post that the new office “lacks the views and the

prestige of the Chrysler Building.” Apparently Mrs. Clinton feels her pricey

office-which includes use of a 154-seat auditorium-is actually a step down from

what she truly deserves.

And by the way, why does

Mrs. Clinton need an office in Manhattan, one of the most expensive real estate

markets in the world? Why not Brooklyn, or Queens, or Staten Island? Why does

she even need to be in the city? She’s not “the Senator from New York City.”

Nor, despite her behavior, was she appointed “Queen of Manhattan.” What’s wrong

with basing herself in Albany, or in one of the many struggling upstate cities

she championed so relentlessly during her campaign?

There is no mystery here. Mrs. Clinton’s public career has

been defined by over-reaching and a condescending attitude even toward those

who support her. Hillary Clinton might want to note that New Yorkers judge our

Senators by what they do for voters, not by what they take for themselves.

W. and Christie’s Dirty Water

During her seven years as governor of New Jersey, Christine

Todd Whitman crafted an image as a steward of the environment, a politician who

tried to counter her state’s reputation as a hostage to petrochemical giants

and toxic-waste dumpers. Ms. Whitman left

Trenton earlier this year to become the Bush administration’s

Environmental Protection Agency head. Now it seems that her new post may ruin

her reputation as an environmentally friendly Republican.

Ms. Whitman has announced

that the E.P.A. will abandon the Clinton administration’s effort to cut the permissible level of arsenic, a known

carcinogen, in drinking water. Current regulations allow arsenic levels of 50

parts per billion; Mr. Clinton sought to reduce that to 10 parts per billion.

Such a wise reduction is just the sort of measure one would have expected

Governor Whitman, steward of nature, to support. But Ms. Whitman and

George W. Bush have chosen to cave in to the mining

interests that supported Mr. Bush’s Presidential campaign. Mining produces

arsenic; if the safer rules were adopted, mining companies would have had to

spend money to reduce the arsenic that finds its way into our drinking water.

In defending her reckless

decision, Ms. Whitman absurdly said that the “scientific indicators” are

unclear regarding the benefits of reducing arsenic levels to 10 parts per

billion. Perhaps she should reread a study by the National Academy of Sciences,

which found that the current standard of 50 parts per billion could result in a

1-in-100 risk of cancer. That’s why the European Union and World Health

Organization have adopted stricter regulation of arsenic.

But Mr. Bush and Ms.

Whitman have chosen to gamble with the public’s health-all because of hefty

contributions. Ms. Whitman must surely know that the E.P.A. is wrong on this

issue. But given the Bush administration’s attitude toward the environment,

she’d best get ready to implement similarly outrageous and damaging decisions

in the future. It must make her pine for the good old days in Trenton.

Marriage, the Grand Illusion?

Everyone knows that more than half the marriages in the

United States end in divorce. And yet, marriage endures as perhaps our

culture’s most cherished and celebrated institution. How can this be? Several

psychologists recently asked why, given the high divorce rate, most couples

will still tell you that their marriage is terrific. As reported in the

American Psychological Association’s Monitor,

the researchers spoke with people of various age groups, some married over 10

years, as well as a sampling of single people, and asked them to estimate their

chances of getting divorced. They found that almost all of the respondents

severely underestimated their own chances of getting divorced. At the same

time, they overestimated their own chances of experiencing other negative

events, such as physical disabilities or car accidents.

Most said their marriage had about a 10 percent chance of

ending up on the rocks-which, if it were true, would mean that 90 percent of

marriages in the U.S. would last a lifetime. The researchers concluded that

“positive illusions about marriage appear to be more powerful than illusions

about other aspects of life.” But, they also admitted, without those positive

illusions, who knows whether even 50 percent of marriages would succeed?