The announcement was designed to end speculation that the media brouhaha over anti-Israeli rhetoric uttered in Mrs. Clinton's presence during her Middle East trip would torpedo her campaign. Despite New York's large Jewish vote and the tabloid media's best efforts, Suha Arafat's remarks are hardly likely to turn into one of those "-gate" tropes that could doom her campaign (the Palestinians hate the Israelis who knew?), especially after Prime Minister Ehud Barak gave her a ringing endorsement as a friend of Israel. But what the incident may have shown is that the trappings of First Ladyhood, which had given her campaign its original bounce, have now turned dysfunctional the West Bank, after all, isn't exactly a traditional whistle stop for New York political candidates.
Having switched hats, though, Hillary Rodham Clinton has shed some of the protective skin that attaches to the dignity of her office, making her fair game for the street-fighting political instincts of New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, her presumptive rival. With Giuliani ahead in the polls, it may take more than a definite decision to run for Mrs. Clinton to win next November. New Yorkers are a cynical lot, and Mrs. Clinton's apparent flip-flopping on Middle East questions and her carefully scripted exchange with teacher's union president Randi Weingarten Monday, in which Weingarten supposedly cajoled Clinton into announcing aren't likely to impress. So the real question isn't where Hillary lives, but whether she's ready to rumble.