Hillary's Luck Takes Many Forms

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It would be grotesque to refer to Rudy Giuliani's prostate cancer, or his domestic mess, as Hillary Rodham Clinton's luck. But politics sometimes works in grotesque ways.

The supernatural Clinton luck has carried the President sunnily through scandals, lurid humiliations, the fires of impeachment — enough mess to drive any other president to suicide. But does the luck work for both of them?

Inexhaustibly, it seems. Either somebody up there likes the Clintons, or they have made a Faustian bargain.

Consider the latest manifestation: Hillary Rodham Clinton purchases a house in a large eastern state where she has never lived before. Presumably, she could have chosen to move to any one of the 50 states in order to start her post-presidential — that is to say, pre-presidential — career. But New York happens to be the home of her beloved Yankees, the baseball team for which she has cherished a passion during all the years of exile in Chicago, Wellesley, New Haven, and Little Rock. And, conveniently, a Senate seat happens to be open in New York. Hillary barnstorms around upstate counties for a few weeks — "listening," as she puts it — and then announces she is running for the job.

Her opponent, by brilliant casting, is the finger-wagging, candle-snuffing, take-no-prisoners mayor of New York, controversial, superbly effective, much hated in certain quarters. The polls show a close race; Hillary and Rudy both provoke passionate reactions, pro and con, and have obdurate followings in the 40 percentage-plus range. Hillary, politically tone-deaf, makes a neophyte's stupid mistakes. The carpetbagger issue only seems to get worse for her as the months pass. Dark clouds move in. A surprising number of women in both parties confess to being allergic to Hillary.

Then fate, deus ex machina, bizarrely intervenes. Behold: The formidable Giuliani implodes. Troubles descend upon him in an avalanche — not all the sorrows of Job, but a few of them. Giuliani is diagnosed with prostate cancer. His marriage of many years cracks apart, and he handles it maladroitly, announcing the breakup to the world without bothering to tell his wife that the marriage is over. His affair with another woman becomes a feast for tabloids. The private Rudy seems to shriek confirmation of his enemies' suspicions about the public Rudy.

The rest of the Republican Party is furious at him. Giuliani loses the asset of his moral clarity — his most effective weapon against Hillary. Strange. Giuliani's career self-demolishes. He withdraws from the race.

And all that Hillary Rodham Clinton needed to do was to stand aside and, on the subject of male misbehaviors, remain decorously silent, as she did during the long months of Lewinsky that gave her such complex gravitas.