Editorials

In the short period

between being elected and being sworn in as a Senator, Hillary Rodham Clinton

has already orchestrated two separate, multimillion-dollar deals that raise

serious questions about her personal ethics and her political loyalty to New

York. Rather than accept her election as a United States Senator with at least a hint of humility, Mrs. Clinton

cannot help herself from overreaching.

It is a troubling omen.

First, for those who were under the assumption that Mrs.

Clinton was the next Senator from New York, she has proven instead that she

should properly be introduced as “the Senator from Viacom.” It is stunning how

quickly she sold her impartiality to the highest bidder-in this case, Viacom,

the media giant that coughed up an $8 million advance for Mrs. Clinton’s

memoirs, a historic book deal second in size only to that of Pope John Paul

II’s. Having endured the humiliations

of her husband’s Presidency, it seems that Mrs. Clinton feels that cashing in

is now her due. She is quite comfortable using her public life to enhance her

private wealth.  The New York Times reports that Mrs.

Clinton was pushing to collect most of her advance immediately, before taking

office, when the Senate Ethics Committee might have had something to say.

Viacom has a deep

interest in many matters before the Senate-and yet where is the moral outrage?

Why are other Senators remaining silent? Five years ago, House Speaker Newt

Gingrich was tarred and feathered for signing a $4.5 million book deal with

Rupert Murdoch. The Clinton White House attacked Mr. Gingrich’s ethics. He

returned the advance. Mrs. Clinton’s equally sleazy deal-with almost double the payoff-has raised barely a peep. Two

nonpartisan groups, the Congressional

Accountability Project and Common Cause, have implored Mrs. Clinton to take

only royalties, but she clearly has no intention of doing so.

That’s because she will need the money to help pay for the

$2.85 million house she and Mr. Clinton just bought in Washington, D.C. (It’s

worth noting that no household has done better under the Clinton Presidency

than the Clintons.) The six-bedroom, seven-and-a-half-bathroom home, just

blocks from the White House, sends a clear signal that Mrs. Clinton is already

leaving New York before she’s had a chance to put one Senatorial foot in it.

People spend their money where their heart is-so what if it is hundreds of

miles from the nearest New York voter?

(With all the time Mrs. Clinton spent talking soulfully about the faltering

upstate New York economy, why didn’t she buy something in downtown Syracuse or

Utica and give their economies a jolt?) And can there still be any doubt that

the $1.7 million home that the Clintons bought in Chappaqua was just a campaign

ruse, a clever ploy to win over Westchester

moms? It is only a matter of time before the Clintons sell that home and

take a pied-à-terre in Manhattan.

Of course, the joke is

on Viacom. Mrs. Clinton received her stratospheric asking price because

she claimed her memoirs will address the scandals of the Clinton

administration. Who does she think she’s fooling (besides Viacom)?  The book is scheduled to be published in

2003, when Mrs. Clinton will be two years into her first term as Senator. It

would be political suicide for her to remind readers of even one hair on Monica

Lewinsky’s head.

Meanwhile, the next time New Yorkers will get Hillary

Clinton’s full attention will be on her book tour.

Jack Welch’s Real

Legacy

The world within the

Beltway will change in a few weeks, with the Clinton administration

giving way to the new (and not-so-new) Bush administration. Anybody interested in the Hudson River’s future

will be watching one Bush appointee with special interest. New Jersey

Governor Christine Todd Whitman will soon become the head of the Environmental

Protection Agency, and it is critical that she follow through on the E.P.A.’s

effort to clean up the Hudson River.

After years of General Electric trying to slip and slide out

of its responsibility for poisoning the river with PCB’s two decades ago, the

E.P.A. has finally ordered G.E. to spend

$500 million to dredge a portion of the river. 

G.E. has fought mightily against

such action, claiming (with little evidence) that the PCB’s are safely entombed

in the river bottom. After a 10-year struggle with federal authorities, G.E.

now has been given its orders. Ms. Whitman must make certain that the company

pays for all clean-up costs, even if they exceed $500 million.

Meanwhile, outgoing G.E.

head Jack Welch, one of the nation’s most celebrated executives, should

make sure that his company complies wholeheartedly, and not leave it to his

successor to clean up his mess. Otherwise, his legacy will be as tainted as the

river’s bottom.

An Armory for the

Arts

Majestically occupying a full block on Park Avenue between

66th and 67th streets, the Seventh Regiment Armory, a shabby but spacious

art-and-antiques bazaar, has long been an underused resource. But now a

nonprofit group, with some of the city’s more prominent citizens on its board,

has submitted to New York State an excellent plan to develop and operate the

armory, the idea being to transform it into a bustling cultural center while

preserving its rich history.

If the Seventh Regiment Armory Conservancy’s bid goes

through, the armory would eventually host summer performances by the New York

Philharmonic, as well as a regular rotation of theater and dance companies,

along with its current exhibitions. The cost is estimated at about $100 million

in public and private funds. The board members bring the needed know-how to

such a project: They include Rebecca Robertson, who is currently overseeing

Lincoln Center’s $1.5 billion renovation, as well as Kent Barwick, president of

the Municipal Art Society, and Richard Blinder, one of the architects who

revived Grand Central Terminal.

By getting behind the plan, the state can add a new

dimension to the armory’s surrounding neighborhood and make a real contribution

to New York’s status as the world’s cultural capital.

Editorials