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
Meanwhile, the next time New Yorkers will get Hillary
Clinton’s full attention will be on her book tour.
Jack Welch’s Real
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
An Armory for the
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.